Thursday, September 16, 2010
I am an Astro Creep
Ted V. Mikels
Is there anything a less-swizzled-than-usual John Carradine’s Dr. DeMarco can’t do with the field of “astro-science?” Who is surprised to learn a field that combines organs grown in fish tanks, synthetic hearts and brainwave communication somehow leads to murderous zombies?
Low-budget, low-brow, low-entertainment brain drill The Astro-Zombies is short on both zombies and astro. However, it is larded with endless shots of people fiddling with beeping and booping electronic equipment, grim-faced Cold War discussions of loyalty, a pointless digression to a burlesque show and an absolutely incomprehensible plot full of Mexican gangsters, Soviet spies and a federal investigator who I’m convinced is a long lost Kennedy brother. All of whom are after DeMarco and his zombie-making ability for reasons never really explained. And what about those zombies?
Zombology: Oh, they’re laughably bad. Just a guy in coveralls, work gloves and a crappy rubber mask probably purchased from your 1960s analogue of Spencer’s Gifts. They’re the byproduct of DeMarco’s (and his obligatory mute hunchback sidekick’s) experiments in artificial organ growth as he spouts the kind of “sciency” sounding bullshit you’d expect from a ’50s saucer film. The astro-zombies are responsible for a six month string of “mutilation murders” that the feds are only now beginning to investigate. While DeMarco insists he’s trying to make “morally pure” zombies, the only brain available at the time was from a murderous psychopath, which leads to predictably homicidal results.
I have a hypothesis this film may have been the threshold moment of the feminist movement because it’s gleefully misogynistic. Our Kennedy brother, when he’s not playing drinking games on the taxpayer dime, is free with his hands around the ladies in the lab. Apparently, the astro-zombies, also, can only attack a woman when she’s in the proper stage of dishabille. During one attack, the zombie takes the time to pointlessly rip open the woman’s top before harvesting her organs. Another woman, used as bait in an unsuccessful trap, is only attacked after she goes home and strips down to her slip. Otherwise incomprehensible, unenjoyable and woefully lacking in zombie action, The Astro-Zombies is a movie just begging for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. And for that reason The Astro-Zombies sucks 83 percent as bad as Hell of the Living Dead.