A fun, Faustian tale with a horror comedy twist, “Uncle Peckerhead” delivers heart, humor, punk rock mayhem, and a heavy dose of well-executed gore.
“I’m sorry I murdered the hell out of that promoter man before I had a chance to run it by y’all.”
From its cheeky “Based on a True Story” title card to its gruesome opening shot, I was all in for the musical horror comedy Uncle Peckerhead.
After a gory cold open, we meet the adorably quirky, upbeat Judy (Chet Siegel) on her awkward last day at work at a bakery. She’s leaving to finally pursue her dream of a music career, embarking on a tour with her punk rock band ‘DUH’. High on life and unbridled enthusiasm, she arrives home to find she’s being evicted. But even that can’t dampen her spirits.
She rouses her two slacker roommates and fellow band members — the endearingly doofy Max (Jeff Riddle) and the charmingly misanthropic Mel (Ruby McCollister) — to hurry up and pack so they can hit the road.
But it seems Mel’s vibe-killing warning that they shouldn’t get their hopes up about the tour, because “the world is chaos,” may have been depressingly prescient. Just as they are getting ready to head out, their van gets repossessed.
Desperate to pursue her dreams at all costs, Judy suggests the group place flyers on the windshield of every van they see, in the naïve hope that some kind soul may let them borrow a van for their tour. After placing their last flyer, a grizzled older man emerges from the back of the van to angrily confront them. But his tone immediately softens when he finds out they are in a band.
The man (David Littleton) explains his name is Peckerhead (because that’s what his daddy called him his whole life), or Peck for short.
But Judy soon suspects Peck may be hiding a dark secret.
Managing to acquire wheels doesn’t end the band’s bad luck streak. Their first gig is a bust, and they get ripped off by a sleazy promoter (David Weinheimer).
Before getting back on the road, Peck excuses himself to the restroom. After being gone for way too long, Judy goes to look for him, only to walk in on mass carnage — with a hideous version of Peck in the middle of devouring said sleazy promoter.
Come to find out, every night at midnight, Peck turns into a “thing” as he describes it. The monstrous transformation only lasts for 13 minutes, and he sedates himself every night to keep from hurting anyone. However, outraged at the way his new friends had been treated, he decides to claim revenge — along with a stack of cash he offers to give to his bandmates for food, gas, and hotel rooms.
Judy is emphatically against the idea of keeping Peck around, having witnessed the horror of his transformation first-hand. But Mel and Max outvote her and insist on taking advantage of the gift they’ve been given.
As the tour continues, Mel and Max grow closer to Peck, while Judy struggles to trust him and accept his new place in the band. She becomes colder and less likable, while Peck continues to win hearts and endure himself to everyone — including the audience.
Eventually Peck wins over even Judy. But can the beast really be contained so easily?
I loved the way the film moved so breezily from insane carnage to folksy charm.
Though not everything worked, it has a definite low budget charm and a few truly funny and even heartwarming scenes. However, it runs a bit long, with unnecessary scenes that feel like filler, and its charm does start to wear a bit thin.
It’s fairly juvenile at times, and the humor doesn’t always land. But, on the whole, it’s a good bit of fun — aided considerably by solid makeup effects and some very satisfying gore. It also delivers some great musical numbers and a surprising nostalgic appeal.
I especially loved Littleton as Peck. He seems to be having a blast with the role, and he’s equally believable as a bloodthirsty monster and a sweet, music loving pacifist. I also loved that no explanation is ever given for why he is the way he is.
This isn’t a film about complex characters and sophisticated storytelling. And, honestly, that’s completely ok. Uncle Peckerhead knows exactly what kind of movie it wants to be, and it mostly delivers on its promise of mindless, horror-fueled, comedic fun.
It’s the perfect, blood-soaked popcorn flick when you hunger for mindless entertainment.