Director Matthew John Lawrence’s horror rock comedy is probably one of the best films about the punk rock experience since “The Green Room.” While nowhere near as dark as the aforementioned film, it’s a movie with a silly title that is shockingly complex, heartfelt and injected with a sharp message about how if you’re willing to do “anything” to make it big, it can come back to haunt you. While the title might be something of a turn off to some, “Uncle Peckerhead” really packs in so much heart and genuine characterization.
Judy (Chet Siegel) and her band, Duh, may finally be getting their big break. After quitting their jobs, they embark on their first-ever road tour, and they may even be opening for one of their favorite artists, who also happens to be a very important record exec. When things don’t go according to plan, and Judy’s van is repossessed, they desperately seek someone to drive them. It’s here that they meet “Uncle Peckerhead” (or “Peck”), a friendly man living in his van who agrees to drive them around and even be their roadie. Along the way things get worse as they fail to draw a crowd, their promoter stiffs them and—oh yes—Judy learns that Pecker is a ravenous flesh eating demon.
Not only does Matthew John Lawrence succeed in creating three sincerely lovable protagonists but he builds a fascinating villain who is devious and horrifying, but also disarming in his charm. Although all signs point to abandoning Peckerhead and running the other way, Judy is willing to do whatever it takes to make it big. And in many ways he even manages to win the trio over with his enthusiasm for the band and their goals. David Littleton’s performance is richly developed over the course of the narrative to where he’s a villain you almost want to like. He presents so many nuances of charm, quirkiness and cunning that you never really care where he came from, or why he is. He’s just a villain that gets under the audiences skin and never quite crawls out from under it.
Chet Siegel is also a wonderful driving force for Lawrence’s horror comedy, offering an engaging and charming turn as a woman who is desperate to simply make it in the music industry. When presented with Uncle Peckerhead, she’s put between an almost Faustian rock and a hard place to where her drive for success allows her to justify his inevitably destructive presence. Matthew John Lawrence’s “Uncle Peckerhead” is an excellent rock and roll movie with or without the horror and splatter elements. Its ability to introduce a new monster and some immense gore only compliments its rich narrative, down to Earth characters, fantastic cast, excellent soundtrack, and relatable message about the artistic struggle.