July 1, 2019 My Uncle John is a Zombie! (Movie Review)
Zombies have been a part of the Horror culture for decades. From slow walkers to fast, terrifying flesh-eaters, their appeal has only intensified over the years. Defeating the mindless walkers is easier said than done, but what if zombies could actually talk and reason as if they were still alive?
Writer, director, and living zombie legend John A. Russo (Night of the Living Dead 1968, Another Night of the Living Dead 2011) stars in his own comedic Horror film called My Uncle John is a Zombie! Released digitally on May 29, 2019 through ITN, is it just another zombie film for the pile or does one of the original masters offer something different?
The story picks up fifty years after the zombie apocalypse took over and changed the landscape of everyday life. Now the undead still roam looking for their next meal and hunting them has become commonplace. Uncle John (Russo) emerges and causes chaos because he claims to be a zombie, but not just any zombie: Uncle John can speak, reason, and become horny just like any living human. Kept safe by his niece Cy-Fi (Cy-Fi: Pola 2009, Crucivixen 2013) and nephew Oscar (Gary Lee Vincent: House of Cards series, Her Name was Christa 2019), zombie hunter Reverend Hotchkiss (Russell Streiner: Night of the Living Dead 1968, The Majorettes 1987), and the law, Jane Smart (Sarah French: Bite School 2015, In Ice Cold Blood 2019), are after Uncle John to end his growing celebrity.
As Uncle John’s celebrity rises, so do its political implications. Do zombies really deserve basic rights like the live humans they live amongst? Uncle John is the poster-child for the movement, whether he likes it or not. The Hunters are closing in fast, and Uncle John is the perfect game to hunt down. He is changing the landscape of the world again, but what will be the outcome? And the real question: is Uncle John really a zombie or is it all one huge elaborate hoax? Will the Hunters finally capture him and kill him in cold blood? Will zombies get the rights they lost when they died? What will become of Uncle John and his legacy in the zombie universe?
My Uncle John is a Zombie! is part Mockumentary, part real-life Drama. It creates a world that is so absurd and different than common knowledge that it works. No one would ever seriously think a zombie-an undead being-should have any rights of any kind. Death is supposed to be permanent, and the only right a dead person has is to rest in peace – and even that is not guaranteed. Here, we have Uncle John, who is quickly rising to fame, being hunted by Hunters, the law, and those in the entertainment business – all because he is not the norm.
If a zombie can talk and reason just like a human then what is the real difference? Does a pulse and heartbeat really make a person more deserving of a life than those that are undead? Underneath the hilarious nature of the film, My Uncle John is a Zombie! has found a way to make zombies not just terrifying meat sacks hellbent on destroying and eating, and transformed them into beings that deserve compassion and understanding.
That in mind, there are many throwbacks to the original Night of the Living Dead. In several scenes with the zombies walking through cemeteries and such, the film is momentarily in black and white. Throughout the film, references to what is known and loved about the zombie genre is simultaneously making fun of what is known. Zombies historically do not have cognitive capabilities. Sex is definitely not an issue, yet Uncle John is so sex-crazed that he creates and endorses Zombie Lube to help with those physical issues.
In a lot of ways, My Uncle John is a Zombie! is not just a Comedy about zombies, but also a fun satire of the genre that has taken entertainment by storm. It just might even change the mind of the viewer who is not a fan of zombies, giving them a second chance after death.
From slow, terrifying zombies in Night of the Living Dead to fully human-like minus the alive part, My Uncle John is a Zombie! takes the genre full circle and reinvents it again. John A. Russo is the legend and the fact that he can poke fun and laugh at the phenomenon he helped to create speaks volumes for his talent. Zombies are no longer just props for terror, they are now beings that deserve their place in society. It is for these reasons that Cryptic Rock gives My Uncle John is a Zombie! 4 out of 5 stars.