Harold's Going Stiff - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Harold's Going Stiff Reviews

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½ March 7, 2016
This low-key film is a poignant and endearing comedy drama, with ample helpings of silliness and black humour.

It's a quirky twist on the zombie myth - in fact I'd say the zombie aspect takes a backseat as more of an analogy for dementia, or a similar degenerative disease. At times I was reminded of the recent series In The Flesh, also set in a rural Northern English town, utilising the zombie theme to deal with wider social issues.

The relationship between Penny and Harold is so natural and believable it's heartbreaking. It's what Gervais wishes he'd managed in his series Derek. The way it was handled was artful.

And the performances were, on the whole, brilliant. Sarah Spencer (Penny) and Stan Rowe (Harold) in particular were wonderful. They managed the naturalistic style of acting exceptionally well.

I'd guess a lot of the low scores are a result of people expecting some Sam Raimi spectacle with blood and guts everywhere. Providing you don't go into this expecting another Shaun Of The Dead, and instead expect a very small-scale, character-driven comedy drama on a shoe- string budget, I think you'll find something to enjoy. This is meant for the small screen!
October 19, 2015
Harold's Going Stiff is delightful. It has very little in common with other zombie comic-horror flicks. Yes, others of its ilk are funny, but this is very funny. Yes, other films involving the undead can be satirical, but this film is cleverer about its satire.
The film lifts itself above its group in other ways too. Never in a zombie film have I seen the process of turning into a zombie tackled, I've also never seen such likable characters either; and I've never seen such naturalistic performances in other zombie films.
Harold's Going Stiff is wonderfully original, extremely funny and very, very enjoyable. What a breath of fresh air!
February 14, 2015
superb! funny, romantic, Oyeah - there's zombies too! :)
February 10, 2015
Decent, low budget horror comedy fare.
April 28, 2014
I never thought i could cry for a zombie. A touching movie. well done.
½ March 13, 2014
Harold's Going Stiff (Keith Wright, 2011)

The surprising winner of the five films I watched this work-from-home Tuesday: Harold's Going Stiff, which I expected to be another brainless zombedy (not that there's anything wrong with that), but ended up being a touching mockumentary combined with a savage satire of Britain's healthcare system. Don't get me wrong, there are funny bits, especially revolving around the characters who, had Wright had the budget for A-list actors, would have been Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, but there's a lot more under the hood here.

Plot: there's a new disease going round that turns people into zombies. Not that anyone in Health Services is going to use the word "zombie". But pensioner Harold Gimble (Stan Rowe in his first feature appearance) has it, and he's starting to suffer the consequences (the early stages of the disease seem quite a bit like dementia-this may be a comedy, but it's an uncomfortable one indeed). Harold goes through a slew of nurse before being assigned Penny Rudge (Sarah Spencer in her first, but hopefully not her last, screen appearance), a lonely nurse who has the patience and humanity to put up with Harold's social awkwardness and forgetfulness. Eventually, the two of them become friends of a sort, and Penny starts helping Harold navigate through the seemingly endless maze of the health care system. Meanwhile, a couple of overzealous zombie hunters also get some screen time, being interviewed about the changing face of British culture, and if it's predictable that these two storylines are going to come crashing together eventually, well, so what?

This is a wonderful little movie-I gave it three and a half stars but gave it a miss on the Thousand-Best list back when I was doing that month's revisions; time and distance have made me revisit the idea that it belongs with the three-and-a-half star movies that qualify, and it may show up there in the near future. Both Rowe and Spencer are perfect for their parts, and certainly deserve more exposure than they've gotten so far, while Wright (Take Me to Your Leader), who also wrote, has a fine eye for satire and a willingness to play things for laughs that most other directors would not-but balances that with as much heart as necessary to make this a movie that will stay with you far more for its empathy than its comedy long after you've finished watching it. There are a few minor places it could have used a bit more polish (e.g., the final sentence in the last paragraph above), but all of them are, ultimately, minor niggles in a movie that deserves far more recognition than it has received. *** 1/2
Super Reviewer
March 3, 2014
This is a pretty good movie all things considered. And by that, I mean its rather minuscule budget, which is really noticeable during the last climactic "fight" between Harold and No. 7, or Randy the Ram as I nicknamed him, where the fight just looks absolutely awful and poorly shot. The film definitely has some very dark humor but, at its core, it's actually got a very sweet story of the relationship between Harold and Penny, which was actually a legitimately sweet and touching. Both are completely removed from "society". Harold's is self-imposed, as the first sufferer of Onset Rigors Disease, or ORD, which causes a stiffness in the limbs and it causes those who are affected to act like zombies. Harold, who's the only known person to not suffer the full effects of the disease, removes himself from society so as to not make himself a target to vigilantes, who want to hunt him down and kill him in order to "protect" the community. And Penny's is also self-imposed as, in her own view, her weight has been an issue for her finding someone to settle down with. The film sees them come together and bring out the best in each other and, again, their relationship with each other is genuinely sweet and it helps that the leads have great chemistry with each other. Sarah Spencer is actually really good, and I'm quite surprised I haven't seen more of her because she's very talented. Stan Rowe isn't as good as Sarah, but he's still quite good as Harold. The film also focuses on the societal effect of those who're suffering with ORD, only older men are affected, and how the vigilantes sort of view those with ORD with contempt and hatred. These people aren't, technically, zombies as they are still alive. These are people with a disease, a disease that needs to be studied to find out if there is a cure. These vigilantes don't realize that, they're looking at this disease in a complete black and white way, rather than as something that's a very complex issue. In reality, the film is also very much about the inhumanity of these vigilantes and not those with the disease itself. The film is very smart, though because of its budgetary limitations they can only focus on a smaller town rather than the effects of it instead of the effects of it on a countrywide basis. But I can't complain really, that's just a problem with the funding the film received and not with anything inside the actual film itself. But I quite liked this movie. It's got a good story with some social commentary and a damn good cast.
½ February 26, 2014
A different twist on an old tale and done it a very effective way.
November 29, 2013
This is done in a cheap documentary style, but it is low-budget so it inevitably had to be filmed like this to make it work. It stutters through its story because of this but it does approach the Zombie genre differently which makes it stand out a tad against its peers, but it's not one that will live long in the memory.
½ October 18, 2013
Blackly funny and surprisingly touching, this zombie mock-doc is far more inventive than it has any right to be.
½ August 29, 2013
A zombie movie that doesn't take the traditional path and has lots of story and character layers. Nicely done!
June 25, 2013
Who would have thought a "zombie" movie could have so much heart?!? Terrific performances and an enjoyable, well-crafted story. Don't miss it!
½ May 22, 2013
Great zombie movie -- love story! Poor Harold! Thank goodness he has Penny to help take care of him and keep him from the zombie chasers.
May 11, 2013
This is a very low budget British horror / comedy about a nurse who befriends a man during his final days before he turns into a zombie. Despite some suspect acting at the start of the movie, it's worth sticking with this one, it has some great ideas, is darkly funny and surprisingly touching in places.
½ February 19, 2013
i couldnt really escape the sexual tension of the young nurse and old bugger, not a bad thing though as the rest of the film wasnt much great.
October 19, 2012
Felt really let down by this, I had real high hoped it would be a British classic.
October 13, 2012
This could have been so much better but I don't think it knew whether it wanted to be a comedy or not. There is some lovely British humour here - Harold's special blend of tea for instance - but it doesn't quite stretch far enough, nor does the story for that matter. There are a few loose threads that are not tied up and it all felt a bit rushed, like the filmmakers had this great idea with lots of tongue-in-cheek winks and nods but it fizzled out. Good but had the potential to be great.
½ October 12, 2012
If ever a film delivered more than its (totally dodgy) title, this is definitely it.

Both completely heartwarming yet also heartbreaking wonderful stuff.
October 8, 2012
It's different in a good way a change from tired Zombie genre and actually touching not sure it's one for repeat viewing though.
September 24, 2012
One of the most endearing zombie films you'll ever watch. :-)
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