Let’s address the elephant in the room. I really had no clue whatsoever what to expect from a feature called Uncle Peckerhead. Where do you even begin to guess what you’re in for? An exploitation flick? A bad porno? The old saying our parents taught us rings true – never judge a book by it’s cover. And that whole thing about not getting into some sketchy van with a stranger? Yeah, don’t do that either. Especially if the stranger’s name is Peckerhead.
Directed by Matthew John Lawrence, the film stars David Littleton, Chet Siegel, Jeff Riddle, and Ruby McCollister. Uncle Peckerhead follows the punk band Duh, made up of the optimistically driven bassist/lead singer Judy (Siegel), the lovably weird guitarist Max (Riddle), and the brooding, unimpressed drummer Mel (McCollister). On their last dollar and looking to finally break through, the band schedules their first tour, only to have their equipment van repo’d. Desperate, the band happens upon a sketchy older man living in his van, who seems just a bit too optimistic to help. Oh, and his name is Peckerhead (his friends call him Peck). Peck offers to be their “roadie” and drive the band throughout their tour, and the four embark on their road trip to fame. It doesn’t take long before the group discovers Peck carries a little more baggage than he lead on though, when he becomes a man-eating demon at the tick of midnight.
“With a seamless blend of comedy and gore, glued together by top-notch performances, Uncle Peckerhead delivers one hell of a fun ride.”
I’m going to cut to the chase; I absolutely loved Uncle Peckerhead. I’m a real sucker for comedy road trip movies, and the film delivers in spades. The cast Lawrence put together are absolutely perfect for their roles, and it’s difficult to pick a favorite performance out of the main four. Chet Siegal excels as Judy, who adopts the “mother” role of the band, constantly having to look out for the other two. It’s easily related to her fluctuating moods of determination and frustration, trying to remain optimistic as life continues to deliver blow after blow, from eviction notices to evil murderous roadies.
Jeff Riddle’s Max radiates a spectacular level of hilarious weirdness that had me remembering Zach Galifianakis’s first turn as Alan in The Hangover trilogy. That is merely for comparison’s sake, though, as Riddle’s performance is very much genuine to Max and never carries the feeling of “I’ve seen this before.” With all of this optimism, a nice dose of the doom we know as reality comes in the form of Ruby McCollister’s Mel, and it always comes in right at the perfect time. The trio quickly form a comical rapport with David Littleton’s title character Peckerhead, whose comedic performance takes this horror/comedy to the levels of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.
While the main cast is always crucial, when it comes to road trip movies the side characters our stars meet along the way can make or break a movie. Dumb and Dumber and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle are two examples of films that pull this off successfully. And I’ve since added Uncle Peckerhead to the list. Every collision the band has with these newcomers brings earned laughter, especially the “Metal-Heads” and the members of rival punk band Pissface (Pissface!).
This leads into the next most important attribute that puts this film in the top echelon of horror comedies – no cut corners. Attention was clearly given to every mundane detail, including the aforementioned names of the fictional punk bands, and it absolutely pays off. The same should be said about the camerawork and set designs. Now I haven’t a clue what sort of budget this film had, and I honestly couldn’t care less. It never for a second feels cheap or rushed, and the credit for that should go to the cast and crew across the board.
Comedy is clearly the bread and butter of Uncle Peckerhead, but the film has way more to offer than to just label it as such. As much as I’ve raved about the humor this film carries, it’s by no means a slapstick comedy. With a title like Uncle Peckerhead, I suspected I was in for a classically tasteless Troma film. While this was not the case, the film still packs an impressive punch of practical gore. Unlike exploitation films though, it appears at just the right time and at a perfect over-the-top level. This may seem like a contradictory statement, but you really just have to see to understand!
Lawrence also doesn’t form the laughs and the terrors along a flimsy story. The writer/director delivers a tight script and a rather compelling, relatable story that isn’t short on emotional heft, hence the comparisons to Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. As I said, no cut corners. And how about that soundtrack? For a fictional band, Duh would be on my playlist for sure. Seriously, some of those tunes are kick-ass. The film’s score, crafted by Christopher Marti, brings a fun combination of ghoulish and comedic atmosphere to round out the film.
“…packs an impressive punch of practical gore”
At first sight, I really questioned why someone would give a film such a name as this. After watching it, I couldn’t imagine a better, more fitting title. I really can’t say enough about how much fun I had with Uncle Peckerhead. I have a feeling this film is going to stick around for awhile in the horror community, and I really hope it does. With a seamless blend of comedy and gore, glued together by top-notch performances, Uncle Peckerhead delivers one hell of a fun ride.
Uncle Peckerhead is playing in select theatres right now, and will be available on VOD/digital August 11th, 2020. Let us know what you thought of Uncle Peckerhead’s unique brand of over-the-top absurdity over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!