Saturday, November 14, 2009

Astro-Zombie (1968) Review

What can be said of The Astro-Zombies (1968) that hasn't already been said about most dung heaps? Not much. I had successfully avoided this film for nearly forty years of my life when my wife one night found it on Netflix's Watch It Now and decided it might be fun to watch. She feel asleep five minutes in. I wasn't so lucky.

I'm going to try and decipher the plot for you. There are these government agents who don't do anything. There is a mad scientist who is making men into zombies so they can go into outer space (?) who hangs around his mute hunchback assistant who doesn't do anything. There are foreign agents who want the scientist's secret, so they hang around their condo and don't do anything. If there is a theme to this work, it's let's not do anything. Even when the cute girl (and best friend of Janine the female lead) who works in a government laboratory is killed, no one does anything, like mourn the loss of her life or barely mention her again. Incidentally, the actress that played Lynn, Janis Saul, acted in this film and then quit the business never to act again. Not that I blame her.

A character who is the best example of doing nothing is Chuck Edwards. I think his entire purpose in the movie was to take up space in the film frame. At one point he goes out with his government agent buddy Eric and Janine the female lead to watch a girl painted like an alien from 'Star Trek' dance topless (which looks like it was shot in someone's rec room in their basement). They make a big deal out of the fact he's dating a dancer and...nothing. We don't meet his topless dancer girl friend and I doubt he utters a word for the next fifteen minutes. You could cut him out of movie and nothing would be lost.

John Carradine (House of Dracula) plays the scientist, who spends all his screen time explaining stuff to his mute hunchback. Poor Carradine must of been at that low point in an old actor's life when he'd show up and act in anything as long as you had a coupon for the local diner's early bird special to give him.

Tura Satana (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) plays Satana the leader of the foreign agents who make up the sub plot. The sub plots entire purpose is make you forget you're watching Astro-Zombies and have accidentally started to watch a bad spy film. A sort of cinematic bait and switch.

The astro-zombies are powered by a solar cell in the middle of their heads, and need a battery in order to go out in the night and do they're killing. The stumble around and never speak a word, giving them the most character development in the movie.

The whole time I sat through this film I was mocking it, yelling Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque quibs at the screen in order to preserve what little sanity I have. My wife at one point woke up, saw the movie was still on, laid back down and cover her head with a pillow. She was either blocking out the sound or trying to smother herself, I'm not sure which. Why I didn't turn it off and end our suffering can only be attributed to the same phenomena of when seeing a deer dead on the road, except the dead deer has more entertainment value. I can usually find something good to say about a horror movie, but the best thing I can say about this one is that it wasn't as bad as having your brain pulled out through your anus.

Below is the film's trailer. Now let's never speak of this again.

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