It’s unusual how a film made in 1993 actually feels like it was made in 1983. And that’s likely because of producer Sean Cunningham and composer Harry Manfredini, both of whom inject an eighties atmosphere that makes Bob Balaban’s “My Boyfriend’s Back” a surreal but entertaining zombie romance comedy with a very funny script by Dean Lorey. It even has something of a Tim Burton aesthetic where the small town the story is set feels perpetually stuck in the fifties despite being the nineties.
Andrew Lowery is great as eternally lovelorn Johnny Dingle, a young man who’s harbored a crush on Missy McCloud since he was a child. In an effort to win her heart and take her to the prom, he stages a fake grocery store robbery that goes awry when an actual robber enters the store. During the chaos, the robber attempts to shoot Missy, but Johnny takes the bullet for her, dying instantly. Shortly after his funeral Johnny rises from the dead and is told by a care taker he has to stay and live in the graveyard or face serious consequences. Despite the caretaker’s insistence, Johnny begins living his normal life again only to find that he’s decaying very slowly, and has a hunger for human flesh. Tracy Lind rebounds from her forgettable role in “Fright Night 2” to give a darkly comic turn as Johnny’s curvaceous love interest Missy, who begins to fall for Johnny in spite of, and because of the fact he’s one of the walking dead.
Really, everyone knows Johnny is a zombie and see it more as a deficiency or deformity rather than anything horrific, which adds to the inherent whimsy and silliness of the film. I especially like how Johnny’s parents are so supportive of his condition, they begin kidnapping people and various corpses to feed him. Lowery plays Johnny with enough empathy to make even his potential flesh eating habits something worth caring about. And it definitely becomes tougher to resist the more he begins to decay. Especially when he’s informed that eating people will reduce decay and permanent death. There are also some great scene wipes that resemble EC Comic book panels, adding to the darkly comic almost “Creepshow” tone that really make “My Boyfriend’s Back” a surreal but entertaining film. “My Boyfriend’s Back” is a very underrated horror comedy with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek that doesn’t re-invent the zombie mold, and yet still paints a sweet, and oddly touching tale of undead love.