Monday, May 12, 2008

Livelihood (2005)

What if the dead walked the earth…but instead of brains all they wanted were their old lives back?

This is the basic premise of Livelihood, a hilarious zom-com that pits the living and the undead against each other, but in very different circumstances than your typical zombie flick.

The film intertwines the stories of three people who died in freakish ways, only to come back from the dead to find the lives they left behind are topsy-turvy. The first story is about Billy Jump (Stephen B. Thomas), an 80’s hair metal rock star, who decides to reunite his once successful metal band, despite the fact that he can only sing in a high-pitched voice and two of his band mates have fallen in love and are now gay.

The second tale is of office square Alexander (Scott P. Graham). In life, no matter how hard he tried he just couldn’t get ahead. His wife hated him and his boss thought he was worthless. When he returns and tries to re-establish his life, he finds he’s been replaced with a computer at work and replaced by a woman in his wife’s bed!

Lastly, we are told the story of overbearing mother Vida (Michelle Trout), who lives with her son and daughter-in-law, Jean (Amy Smith). Vida makes Jean’s life a living hell, until Jean poisons her tapioca pudding. When Vida returns from the grave, she continues to harass Jean.

As the three different stories unfold, the film treats us to several commercials featuring zombie products (zombie digestion aids) and services (zombie retirement home), zombie soap operas (The Dead and the Breathless) and even a zombie music video (a country parody called “Leave the US to the Living”)! The film also has segments that give it a documentary feel, like when the characters are featured in sit-down interviews. All these elements work in Livelihood’s favor, giving it a distinctive and unique feel.

This is a low-budget movie, though, so some might be a little put-off by the hokey pancake makeup and special effects. Still, this didn’t really dampen my enjoyment of the film. In fact, I thought it only added to the comical and over-the-top vibe of the flick!

There are a few instances where the humor does fall flat, though, and a few scenes that run a bit long. It also never ties the three stories together, leaving the film feeling rather loose, unstructured and unfocused.

Surprisingly, the acting was quite good, with all of the lead characters holding their own throughout the film. For a low-budget flick to pull this off is a rather big accomplishment!

I liked how the story tweaked the traditional “the dead walk the earth” and put its own spin on it. From the look of this smartly written film, writers Ryan Graham (who also directed), Tracey Graham and Curtis Crispin have bright futures ahead of them.

Livelihood is a solid low-budget film that delivers the laughs and will surely charm fans of zombie comedy looking for something new!

Available from Amazon!

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