Directed by Matthew John Lawrence; Starring Chet Siegel, David Littleton, Ruby McCollister, and Jeff Riddle
Uncle Peckerhead follows Judy and her indie punk band’s attempt to have a successful tour. Everything gets off to a bad start when their van is repo-ed and they are forced to take assistance from a stranger with a van who insists on being called Uncle Peckerhead. He’s a little weird, and Judy is dubious, but his earnest enthusiasm quickly wins over the rest of the band and eventually Judy.
However, this enthusiasm turns deadly when a promoter scams the band and Uncle Peckerhead makes a meal out of him, revealing to the band that he is a people-eating monster. Despite this, they continue traveling with him. As the movie escalates Judy must simultaneously contend with her desire to make it as a band, and that their number one fan is a shape-shifting anthropophagist.
The film is ‘big fun’ in the most unexpected way: its adorable characters are a stark contrast to the grim scenario it explores, namely the well-intentioned monsters you bring into your life. Uncle Peckerhead is unique in that it indulges itself in building the characters and the intricacies of their hopes, dreams, and relationships and provides some true “awww” moments as we see them interact. It could almost be considered an indie darling, if it weren’t for the horror story constantly lurking in the background.
Even Uncle Peckerhead, the monster that violently rips people apart and consumes them, is given an affable personality and a strong connection to the three bandmates. He really does seem to occupy the role of an uncle; happily toting them around the country in his van, manning their merch station at shows, and even getting a disinterested crowd sufficiently riled up to make a memorable DUH performance. Despite his violent side, he genuinely cares about Judy and the others (maybe Judy most of all) and we the viewer are given insight into a monster that in the hands of a different storyteller would likely be less character and more cheap fright.
The story is sadly lacking in insight into who or what Peckerhead is exactly, and how he got to be that way since he otherwise seems like a normal down-to-Earth man. This is a disappointment since it seems like an oversight by the creators, but it also allows for an engaging story free of shallow reveals and monster survival tropes. The viewer is left with what Judy and the band are left facing: an adorable and earnest man who cares, but also cannot control the fact that he is driven to eat people.
The effects are low budget, consisting of buckets of delightfully red blood, obviously fake body parts, and a mostly unremarkable makeup job for Peck’s transformation. It works for the film since overly realistic gore would conflict heavily with the lighthearted tone of the story. But don’t worry, there is still plenty of gore.
Ultimately I thoroughly enjoyed Uncle Peckerhead. It was delightful to watch a horror movie where you are on the inside, alongside the monster as they rip apart their victims, and forgiving them afterwards because their “aww shucks” is so darn genuine. Uncle Peckerhead is charming, laugh-out-loud funny, and ultimately a slow creep of discomfort.
Special Features Include
- Cast commentary
- Holy Mess music video
- Short film: Larry Gone Demon
More From 101 Films:
It is safe to say that most people are aware of the Zodiac Killer. Perhaps not his identity, but of the heinous murders committed in San Francisco during the late…
Being mostly an American tradition, fraternities seem to be full of real life horror stories due to the harsh hazing rituals regularly to new pledges. These organisations seem to be…
Caged Heat is a 1974 American women-in-prison exploitation film, written and directed by Jonathan Demme and released under Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. Though the film would be his directorial…
Treasure of the Ninja is a 1987 American kung-fu action thriller, written/directed/starring William Lee. Lee is well-known for his thirty-something years in independent filmmaking, well versed in the trials and tribulations of…
A study in contrasts, Aubry is a lover of knitting and rescuing strays, but also most likely the one cheering loudest during gory horror scenes.
Someday she’s going to get too excited and accidentally stab herself with a knitting needle.