BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
To the outside eye, The Astro-Zombies is probably not regarded as the greatest of monster flicks. Clocking in at 91-minutes, the b-grade entertainment at the center of this Mad Scientist tale is far too long. Several scenes meander in and out of all rational thought as characters ramble on. There are several moments that need editing. And, yes, the excess fat needs to be vacuumed from both its tummy and thighs. The acting is also ridiculous and is often the folly of many amateur Mad Movies.
That didn’t stop Kino Lorber from upgrading the picture to blu-ray. They understand that we DO NOT make fun of The Astro-Zombies. That is a BIG no-no. We appreciate the movie for what it is: a jubilant expression of joy at the very ability to make movies. And what better way to show appreciation than to watch all its flaws in high definition?!
Writer/Director/Producer Ted V. Mikels (Girl in Gold Boots, The Doll Squad) loves to make movies. He is, in fact, still at it. His sheer joy at the art form means that he is unapologetic in his attempts to throw anything and everything at the screen. His world is wild one and, with movie titles like Dr. Sex and The Black Klansman, he is more than willing to share his experience through the underground of life.
One could say Mikels has a very specific range of skills. Me? I just think he, like Ed Wood before him, is one of the true auteurs in the film community. Watch one of his films and you’ll know how to identify another one. He’s twisted. He’s perverse. And, because there are no apologies uttered in his filmography, he’s truly dedicated to his art. That dedication is best reflected in the film’s opening sequence as a young woman is brutally attacked and murdered in her garage by an astro-zombie, who is obviously hiding in the shadows. SHE can’t see it, but WE can. And that makes all the difference.
Reportedly shot in and around Los Angeles for a whopping $40,000, The Astro-Zombies, in spite of all that is wrong with it, continues to draw audiences. Its influence is still spreading, too. And, yet, it’s hard not to think that the budget doesn’t match what appears on screen. For anyone who has actually sat through the movie, you’re probably wondering where all the money went. Hell, even I wonder where it all went.
Maybe some of co-writer Wayne Rogers’ money (of M*A*S*H fame as Trapper John) was spent on procuring John Carradine as Dr. DeMarco, the disgruntled scientist who uses the parts of murder victims to make creatures with a sick need to kill others. Maybe they spent it on getting exotic dancer Tura Satana (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) and her flashy wardrobe to shimmy-shammy across the screen. Perhaps it was spent on the practical effects because those highly detailed astro-zombies are gore-gore terrific.
Regardless of the who and the how, the end result of all the dollars spent is a b-movie that continues to live on as one of the worst movies ever made AND reviewed. Forget about Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space. The Worst Picture crown proudly sits upon the enlarged head of The Astro-Zombies. Is the title deserved? You bet! Does the title mean we dismiss the film as a piece of cinematic trash and flush it with the rest of the turds? Absolutely not. There IS a difference.
Besides, if you don’t give it up for The Astro-Zombies, they WILL find you.
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 91 mins
Director: Ted V. Mikels
Writer: Ted V. Mikels
Cast: Wendell Corey, John Carradine, Tom Pace
Genre: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline: Dismembered Bodies, Transplanted Organs, Are Used To Create The...
Memorable Movie Quote: Your own experiments will have to wait. Dr De Marco to Assistant who is menacing the girl strapped to the table.
Theatrical Distributor: Geneni Film Distributors
Release Date: May 19, 1968
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: October 11, 2016
Synopsis: The Plan - to build a super human; How? - by murdering innocent convenient victims and using various bits of them; The Result - Creatures on the rampage.
Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray - October 11, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Kino-Lorber presents The Asto-Zombies on blu-ray with a 1080p transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The results, as expected, are less than stellar as both dirt and debris interfere with the smoothness of the newly minted HD image. Much is grainy and much is far too bright. There’s nice detail in the masks of the astro-zombies, but expectations should be tempered a bit. The sound – presented here in a 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix – is adequate at best. Neither sound nor picture is worth writing to mother about.
There are three feature-length commentaries: NEW Audio Commentary by Writer/Producer/Director Ted V. Mikels, NEW RIFFTRAX Commentary by Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, and a NEW Audio Commentary by Horror Cinema Historian Chris Alexander. This one is arguably the best of the bunch, although all of them are solid.
Kino finally gets into the whole reversible art movement with this release. The artwork is spectacular. The film’s original trailer is also included.
- Original Theatrical Trailer