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MOVIE REVIEWS

The Astro-Zombies (1969)


TAGLINE
Dismembered Bodies, Transplanted Organs, Are Used To Create The...

The Astro-Zombies on DVD
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I've waited a long time to see this many cool things packed into one movie...mad rocket scientists, solar-powered killer space zombies, Mexican spies, a hot Chinese secret agent, and an Igor-like organ-stealing lab assistant. I should have waited longer. While all those things may sound pretty cool, when you squish them all together into 90 minutes of film...they lose their coolness. In fact, squishing them all together just makes one big giant mess.

The Astro-Zombies is a huge mess of a film, often incoherent and brain-numbingly slow. While the plot seems straightforward, it was only after watching it all the way through that I have a tiny bit of clue as to what went on in this movie. A rocket scientist named Dr. Demarco ("B" movie king John Carradine) was fired from the Space Agency and has since gone completely off the deep end. While employed, he was working on an artificial man that could be controlled remotely for space missions. Now he's using his knowledge to continue to create zombie-like creatures with the body parts of dead people. In his first try he uses a brain from a criminal and the "astro-zombie" goes on a killing spree through town. Oops...oh well, mistakes happen. Dr. Demarco just opts to make another "astro-zombie".

I don't know how much the editor was paid, but whatever the salary, it was far too much. The movie jumps around and tries to thoroughly confuse the viewer. As much as I could tell, a bunch of CIA agents are hot on the trail of Dr. Demarco and are trying to stop him. At the same time, they're also trying to thwart a beautiful, yet very deadly, communist Chinese agent (Tura Satana) and her Mexican spy partners who want the doctor's knowledge for their evil purposes! Huh? Since when did Mexico and China conspire together? Maybe I missed something when I was taking all those trips to the kitchen...or the bathroom...or the nap I took. Okay, I didn't actually take the nap, although that would have been a better use of my time. I'm sure I didn't miss anything, though. When I left the room, it was usually when Dr. Demarco was rambling on and on about something or another. To my dismay, I'd come back and the rambling hadn't stopped. The worst part is that he was talking to his weird-looking lab assistant, Franchot, who probably didn't have the slightest clue what he's talking about. He was more interested in his own little experiments on some scantily clad victim clamped to a table. Of course they never bothered to explain what the deal with Franchot was all about.

Some of the movie obviously escaped me. Why were the zombies solar-powered? What was the doctor going to use these "zombies" for? What was the deal with the stupid wind-up toys in the opening credits? How do you put a silencer on a revolver? Why was a scimitar just lying around the laboratory? Feel free to fill me in on more of the details because I refuse to watch it again to clarify, it's just not worth it. And lest I forget, the cinematography was pure genius (sarcasm inserted). Who would have thought a hundred unnecessary shots of a car radio or an invisible body model would add so much suspense (still sarcastic).

As far as "B" schlock movies go, this might hold some value for those of you out there that enjoy such things. Much better movies than The Astro-Zombies exist, however. There are several old "B" movies that are fun to watch, but The Astro-Zombies is not one of them. In fact, I'm now entering it into my "worst movies ever" list. This is a 'zombie' flick in the loosest sense of the word, provides absolutely no scares or terror as its trailer would have you believe, and the special effects were anything but special. Essentially it all adds up to a waste of 90 minutes of your life.


RATING

(Out of 5)
DVD RELEASE DATE
August 14 2002


DEAD KEV'S ADVICE
Stay far from this movie, unless you're just a glutton for bad "B" movie punishment. Don't say I didn't warn you!
ZOMBIE LESSONS LEARNED
1. Keep flashlights away from solar-powered zombies.
2. Don't use a criminal's brain when making your own subservient zombie.
FAVORITE QUOTES
-"I should get some useful information...if I don't turn into a lush first.
-"There's this certain look men get before they die."


DIRECTOR
Ted V. Mikels (The Corpse Grinders)
WRITERS
Ted V. Mikels
Wayne Rogers
PRODUCERS
Kenneth Altose Executive Producer
Wayne Rogers Executive Producer
Ted V. Mikels Producer
CAST CHARACTER
Wendell Corey Holman
John Carradine Dr. DeMarco
Tom Pace Eric Porter
Joan Patrick Janine Norwalk
Tura Satana Satana
Rafael Campos Juan
Vince Barbi Tyros
Joe Hoover Chuck Edwards
Victor Izay Dr. Petrovich
William Bagdad Franchot
Egon Sirany Sergio Demozhenin
Janis Saul Lynn
Wally Moon Det. Mike Webber
John Hopkins Det. Thompson
Rod Wilmoth Astro-Zombie
PRODUCTION COMPANY
Jack H. Harris Enterprises Inc., Ram Ltd.
STUDIO
Geneni Film Distributors
Image Entertainment (DVD)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
United States
RUNNING TIME MPAA RATING
90 mins Unrated


INTERESTING TIDBITS
Some 33 years later, In 2002, Ted Mikels directed the sequel Mark Of The Astro-Zombies.
Co-written and co-produced by television star Wayne Rogers, of M*A*S*H fame (Capt. John 'Trapper John' McIntyre, M.D.)
AKA : The Space Vampires (1969); Space Zombies (1969)
AROUND THE WEB
INTERVIEW WITH TED V. MIKELS - Buried.com

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