When zombie movies go mainstream, sometimes they get really weird. Case in point: My Boyfriend’s Back, a screwball zombie comedy from the early ’90s. This is one odd film.
In it, a teenager named Johnny dies trying to impress the girl he’s crushed on since the first grade. His unrequited love and her promise to go to prom with him, made as he is taking his last breath, brings him back as a zombie. He heads home and picks up his life as if he never died. The weird bit is that while everyone is quite surprised to see him, no one really thinks much of it or really reacts to it. They treat him like a pariah, especially once he eats a classmate, but they are remarkably chill about it. That may be because it’s happened at least once before in that town, some fifteen years prior, but still … you’d think it would cause a bit more uproar.
So anyway, the girl he digs turns out to be into him, even if she is a bit put off when his parts start falling off. Her family is against it. Her boyfriend Buck (played by Matthew Fox aka Jack in Lost!) is not cool about it at all and Buck’s best friend Chuck (Philip Seymour Hoffman!) tries to kill him and ends up accidentally killing himself and then being eaten by Johnny. His mom keeps bringing him bodies, both living and dead, for him to eat, despite his protestations he doesn’t want to eat anyone. The townspeople eventually begin hunting him with torches and all he wants to do is stay undead and whole long enough to take his girl to the prom… And naturally, being a goofy, mainstream comedy, he gets that wish and a whole lot more in the end.
There is a lot of really weird deadpan humor and some screwball humor as well. Is it funny? Intermittently, yeah it is. But a lot of the jokes fall really flat. It kind of works despite that though, just because of how utterly odd it is. It’s also amusing to see such recognizable actors in it so young and in such goofy roles. Besides the aforementioned actors, Matthew McConaughey makes a brief appearance as well.
The whole thing is played as a riff on the obsessive nature of teen angst and romance and it works pretty well as that. Think of it as a companion piece to similar screwy comedies from the ’80s such as Better of Dead, sort of a Better Off Undead. It’s worth a look from zombie fans, despite a lack of gore and some zombie makeup that’s just some gray base paint, simply for the fact it is genuinely unique.
Short wise, I caught I Love Sarah Jane, a weird little atmospheric short about a boy, the girl he likes (sounds familiar…) and some asshole friends. And a zombie. It was cool, although it seemed like a scene plucked at random from a larger narrative than a stand alone piece. See it for yourself below.