Creatively speaking, the zombie genre is nearly dead. Human flesh as source material is thin gruel indeed and forget The Walking Dead — more like The Talking Dead as that’s basically a soap opera in which a character is more likely to talk your ear off rather than gnaw it. No offense, but we’re the spawn of Fulci and Romero. That’s why we were intrigued by My Fair Zombie, an attempt to re-animate the genre with of all things, a musical inspired by My Fair Lady.
We’re not averse to musical theatre. We went to a production of Evil Dead: The Musical in Toronto and it was a bloody good treat and one of us thought Don’t Go in the Woods, Vincent D’Onofrio’s indie rock hipster musical horror got a rough shake. We also think Phantom of the Paradise KOs Rocky Horror.
The director of My Fair Zombie said he wanted to get around to filming this concept before someone else got to it. Really? There was a rush to do this? Gotta admire his chutzpah. Making any Canadian film is tough go at the best of times but one this niche?
Before going in, we knew this about My Fair Lady:
1) It was based on a work by George Bernard Shaw
2) Star Rex Harrison was the voice inspiration for Stewie, the sexually ambiguous psycho baby from Family Guy
3) The names Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, although we didn’t know where from
4) The phrase “The rain in Spain” and frankly, how irritating it is
5) The song “I Could Have Danced All Night” and absolutely nothing else
In our estimation, My Fair Zombie stays close to the source material: a phonetics professor and a linguist try to smooth out the rough accent of a flower girl, except she’s not just a cockney but a zombie cockney. The well-meaning instructors have the “carnivorous guttersnipe” chained up for their own protection and feed her both brains and speech language therapy. She of course, becomes belle of the ball and begins to morph into a loquacious Taylor Swift.
It starts out pretty rough, as the Ottawa producers built a grey brick wall to approximate Edwardian London and it looks uber-cheap. They should’ve hopped on the 401 highway to Toronto and filmed at the largest collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America, the Distillery District.
But it’s a film not without its charms, some really good kills and the premise alone is enough to carry the day. Hell, the songs are pretty good too. The producers say they’re in the style of Alan Jay Lerner (Paint Your Wagon, Camelot, etc) and “I’m Just a Zombie Who Knows What She Wants” and “All She Ever Wants is Brains” are good sing-along fun.
*** (out of 5 if you’re not averse to musicals)