Over 60 years ago, a young man named Johnny Taylor tried to share a dance and possibly a kiss with Sally, the girl of his dreams. Being the town freak, Johnny found himself getting beat up by Creeper and his gang; finally snapping Johnny pulled out his favorite knife - turning the dance into a massacre. After fleeing with Sal and losing control of his car, Johnny ends up at the bottom of the ocean. Just like rock and roll, Johnny will never die and now he's back and is looking to get what he deserved all those years ago.
Man, I wasn't sure if David Howard's "Flick" would ever see the light of day. I remember when Ronny and I first started Film Bizarro this was one of the movies he mentioned about wanting to cover and wanting to try to get a screener for. I became interested because it looked very stylistic and that it would be a visual treat so I immediately grabbed it when I saw that it finally hit DVD on the American market. (Apparently it's been on DVD for awhile in the UK, though.) Watching it, "Flick" reminded me a great deal of "Red Velvet"; it's a movie that takes a somewhat familiar concept but puts a whole new spin on it to make for a rather unique..flick.
It's a romance-revenge-zombie movie (Yeah, good luck combining those three to try and make a stupid word like 'zomedy' or 'rom-com-zom'.) about Johnny Taylor, the town freak, and how he wants to have one dance and one kiss with Sally, or as he calls her, Sal. Though Sal's boyfriend Creeper and his gang won't let Johnny-boy have that dance, until Johnny finally snaps and turns the dance into a massacre with his favorite switchblade. When Johnny tries to escape with Sal, he looses control of his car and drives off a bridge into the ocean where he remains for over 60 years. When a fishing boat accidentally recovers the car Johnny returns from the dead but still see's everything as it was in the 50's and sets out to find Sal and get that dance and kiss he always wanted. So he can die a happy man.
Sounds a little too sappy and date night-ish, I'm sure, but "Flick" really is an amazing piece of independent filmmaking the does a lot of genre bending. There is a soft spot and sweet story mixed in with the rock and roll, decaying flesh, and blood splatter of Johnny trying to find happiness, even in death. It makes the movie feel genuine in a way. But it also has a great a horror element that brings a fresh twist to the extremely tired zombie genre. There is no gut munching or flesh tearing; he isn't a superhuman runner or a staggering lobotomy patient. Johnny is simply a member of the undead - what zombies use to be before George Romero hit the scene with "Night of the Living Dead". Johnny can still move to the beat but when he sees the people who use to torment him, he brings out his favorite switchblade (Or rather flick, as it’s called in the UK.) and slices up these folks, vintage greaser-gang style.
That become one of my favorite things about "Flick" and why I got into the story so much, is that it takes a standard idea and breathes new life into it. There isn’t any zombie/undead movies out there like this, at all. It's more than just a revenge movie or a love story, there is sincerity to it, and even a bit of tongue-in-cheek comedy. "Flick" also brings with it an incredible artistic style and direction - the best way I've found to describe it is imagine a psychedelic version of "Creepshow" on a Dutch-angle.
There is on odd mix of old horror-pulp comic books infused with both new and old filmmaking styles. With some absolutely beautiful lighting and filtering that uses primary colors to give an almost candy-colored look to scenes and objects. Making it a bright and vibrant world that's also has an ugly washed out dirty and decaying feel to reflect the state that Johnny finds himself in. There is also a very heavy music influence that goes beyond generating mood and atmosphere to the scenes. The music itself almost becomes a secondary character to Johnny, and not merely because of the way it ties into the story. It's a relevant and important factor to the nature of the movie and David Howard and his crew did a phenomenal job of bringing it in and making it stand out.
There are a number of reasons as to why "Flick" feels like such a fresh and unique movie, but the most important reason and the reason you should watch it, is because it's a good movie. Strike that. It's a damn good movie. Yeah, sure, this movie won't make you hide under the bed or cling to your loved one since it's not out to scare you. "Flick" is out to tell a bitter-sweet story with a non-traditional zombie twist and with an added bonus of being visually stunning. Plus, it is entertainment above all else. I find "Flick" to be so enjoyable that I can't believe it has already managed to fall into obscurity. It trumps not only most direct-to-video and independent titles, but a lot of mainstream ones as well.