Judy (Chet Siegel) and her band, Duh, have many great opportunities on the horizon. They’ve just quit their jobs so they can embark on their first-ever tour. They may even be opening for one of their favorite artists, who happens to be a very important record exec. As long as nothing gets in the way, this could be Duh’s big break.
If you’ve ever been in a band-especially a punk band-you already know that things rarely, if ever, go according to plan. The first of many issues: Duh’s van was just repossessed the day before they’re set to leave for the first of their six-show run. In an act of desperation, the band takes to posting flyers on random vans around town, begging someone to let them borrow a vehicle for a few days. This is how they meet the titular Uncle Peckerhead (“Peck” for short), a kindly, seemingly harmless man with a southern twang in his voice who offers to drive them in exchange for gas and maybe a few bucks.
In natural road movie form, things seem to go wrong for Duh at every turn. Empty venues, jerk promoters, roadies who turn into man-eating demons at the stroke of midnight each night, etc. That last thing is the first of many surprises causing Judy to be ever-suspicious of Peck, who is allowed to stick around under the promise that he doesn’t eat the bandmates and takes his sleep aid every evening.
Director Matthew John Lawrence’s Uncle Peckerhead is as delightfully absurd as its name suggests. It’s both laugh-out-loud funny and gruesomely gory. The written jokes are great on their own, but what really brings out the humor is the chemistry between the four main characters. Chet Siegel is hilarious as the type-A-goes-punk bassist/vocalist Judy, who is forever playing the role of “band mom” and shutting down pretentious frontmen with her dry wit. Balancing her out are Jeff Riddle as Max, the lovable airhead guitarist, and Ruby McCollister as Mel, the quiet but angsty drummer. Rounding out the main cast is David Littleton as the sweet, charming, yet dangerous Uncle Peckerhead himself. All four deliver their lines with perfect comedic timing, making for a genuinely entertaining ninety-seven minute ride.
Uncle Peckerhead, for all its cannibalistic horror qualities, is surprisingly full of heart. Great care is taken to present a realistic glimpse into the life of a struggling touring band. Part of what makes Uncle Peckerhead feel so authentic is that Jeff Riddle is himself a touring musician. Impressively, Riddle wrote the truly badass music played by both Duh and rival band Dominion Rising in the film. Additionally, Lawrence disclosed in an interview with YETicket.com that Siegel and McCollister both learned their instruments, after having zero prior experience, so that they could actually play the songs during band scenes. The result is veritable, in-your-face, pop-punk realness.
If the term “splatterpunk” could be applied to films, Uncle Peckerhead is that, but with a more uplifting sensibility. It offers a brief, blood-soaked escape from the heaviness of daily life during quarantine. This film is a must-see for any fan of horror comedies, and especially for those who like a little carnage. The best punk rock horror film since Green Room, Uncle Peckerhead is DIY, small-budget filmmaking done perfectly right.
Uncle Peckerhead is now available on VOD and Blu-ray.