Review: ‘Uncle Peckerhead’ (graphic bloody fun)

Better to be the right hand of your Devil roadie than in his path.

Bassist/vocalist Judy (Chet Siegel) has aspirations to take her punk band “DUH” on tour and get the attention she feels it deserves. With bandmates Max (Jeff Riddle) on guitar and drummer Mel (Ruby McCollister) signed on, Judy quits her job to head out to their first play date… just in time to watch their tour van get repossessed. Desperate to find a new ride, they run across Peckerhead (David Littleton) — “Peck” to his friends — who offers up the van he lives out of for gas and food to roadie for the band. Everything seems okay at first until the slimy promoter at their first gig stiffs them out of an agreed-upon appearance fee, robbing them of necessary cash to fuel their tour. Fortunately, their roadie has a solution, and a bloody permanent one at that.

Run-and-gun indie filmmaking can be fun, especially in the horror-comedy genre. With a decent script and a lot of love, even an average cast and crew with a meager budget can deliver something entertaining from the editing room with cult-classic potential. While films from Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma Entertainment and similar fare aren’t exactly mainstream, they do have a following, and the trailers for Uncle Peckerhard ring true of that intent. The real question is, can this horror-comedy film about a band trying to make it deliver a worthy final cut for the filmmakers trying to make it?

Think Scott Pilgrim vs. The World… if it was a set in a low-budget horror comedy instead of a video game, the main character was a girl, and adding a monster for a roadie. Eerily, Chet Siegel does channel a gender-swapped Micheal Cera in a good way. The story is built quickly but organically on the bonded bandmates finding new ways to overlook the escalating horror that not-so inexplicably keeps working out in their favor. While by no means perfect and focused upon an 1980s slasher vibe, this tale of zero-level punk heroes and villains vying for scraps with a box of homemade mix tapes strikes the right power chords blending fun and gore.

The production’s secret weapon is “Uncle” Peckerhead himself: David Littleton. Playing up the simple and over-apologetic homeless hillbilly who looks slightly dangerous yet comes off as entirely sympathetic, Peck is an original and unusual supernatural critter that defies explanation but firmly sticks to his rules. One could imagine an entire franchise built around Peck being dropped into almost any small-town backwater situation as a catalyst for mayhem, a rural woodsy James Bond who leaves destruction in his wake without a second thought. Playing with classic tropes of transgression and over-punishment, Peck wants to be your best friend but can’t help who and what he is, a clever plot device that offers as little information as necessary to ingratiate himself with whomever will allow him into their soon-to-be ruined lives.

Props of payphones, cassette tapes, and boomboxes suggest the film is set in the mid 1980s, but a misplaced “Wifi” sign undermines that notion; is the band actually so poor they can’t even afford a prepaid phone, or was the sign an editing mistake? Whereas the world of video games ends in triumph, horror rarely works out for the main characters, so the ending isn’t as fun as what new fans might hope for. There’s even a question as to where the term “Uncle” even enters into the film’s title, but if writer/director/producer Matthew John Lawrence has any more of these in mind, he can attribute that to a room full of monkeys banging out another entertaining script.

Uncle Peckerhead is unrated for biting comedy, plenty of gore, and exactly the way any real metalhead would want to go.

Three skull recommendation out of four

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