Life on the road isn’t always easy, and for the quirky punk-rock band, DUH, there’s no exception, when they decide to rock with the seemingly charming but monstrous hillbilly, Peckerhead. In the horror-comedy, Uncle Peckerhead, punk-rock band DUH, lead by passionate bassist Judy, is looking for their big break, so they embark on their first tour with a lot of bumps in the road including a flesh-eating demon with a van named Peckerhead. Uncle Peckerhead is a great one-off midnight movie but nothing more.
The film has humor and heart. The horror and gore comes off a bit campy, but it works in its favor. It’s bloody and fun. I love the practical effects and I can tell a lot of heart and passion went into this project. I do love the original music and the respective on-stage performances by Chet Siegel (TBS’ Search Party) as Judy, seasoned musician Jeff Riddle as Max, and Ruby McCollister (HBO’s High Maintenance) as Mel. The cast gives the film a lot of personality, especially David H. Littleton as Peck. Everyone was fun to watch.
The shots are well set-up and well-directed. Writer and Director, Matthew John Lawrence, manages to stretch a low budget and expertly makes the most out of what he has. I love the editing and style, which includes frequent cutting on action and excellent transitions, that help to build tension and maintain the film’s energy. The music supports the action and maintains the film’s spirit and vitality. The film’s recurring erratic music keeps the film feeling lively and energetic. At times, the film’s pacing was a bit sluggish due to long scenes and awkwardly placed jokes. There are some moments that could stand to be cut. There were some scenes that failed to serve the plot or story, but felt like a placement holder for run-time.
There are frequent odd tonal shifts. Which kind of represents my feelings on the film itself, inconsistent. There are some moments I really enjoy, and others I could do with less of. The light and humorous dialogue increases the erratic shifts in tone but at times, it’s at the expense of the horror and dramatic beats.
The story is simple, just as the goal, but there wasn’t much of an active antagonistic force within the story that raised the stakes or offered concrete consequences for the characters. It all felt too easy.
I think the final 30 minutes of the film are the best. We see our protagonist, Judy being active. I think the culmination of events that were primarily swept under the rug, such as the deaths, was a great pay off, but I wish there was more of a trail of dramatic beats leading up to it. I wish the beats were more concrete. There were little to no consequences for Peck, which wouldn’t have bothered me if it had been set up tonally as more tragic than comedic. I think the primary issue is just more of a need for proper balance.
Within the conflict and loose confines of the plot, Judy remains the most active and resistant character. Despite this, I feel as though she was not active enough where it counts. She falls victim to complacency like her fellow band-mates. Judy is not as trusting and naive as Max, or as detached and careless as Mel. But her complacent and trusting attitude after frequent resistance, undermines her character later on.
There’s not much that grabs my attention in terms of the film. It may end up being forgettable, but in the meantime it maintains itself as a campy film with a few laughs and scares to match . With a more consistent tone, firmer goals, concrete stakes and consequences, this film could be better. But the film has heart and humor that still shines throughout. I loved the ending more due to the lack of stakes and consequences in the first half of the film. The heavy presence of stakes in the ending is what made me enjoy the film a lot more. The final three minutes of the film are amazing. Siegel did an amazing job during the film’s final moments. The ending was full of palpable dread and fear and I wish that tone was apparent throughout.
Verdict: 2.5 out of 5
In the words of Mel, Overall, I think this film is “Adequate with a capital A”, nothing more, nothing less. I admire the passion and the fun behind the project. It translates through the performances and through the music, but I was left a little disappointed.