Movie not nearly as exciting as poster



Ed. note- THE ASTRO-ZOMBIES came out the same year as NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.  Jesus Christ, how?  Wayne Rogers, star of TV’s M*A*S*H, co-wrote and produced it.  I wonder if he ever bragged about this to Alan Alda about this.- P.F.


The Astro-Zombies hosts one truly unforgettable scene .  I don’t mean “unforgettable” in a “Wow, that chopper blade took off that zombies head!  How did they do that?” sense.  I mean it in a “Holy smokes, this is actually they’re starting the movie???” sense. The credits appear over a bunch of windup robots and a toy tank on a curb.  These toys have absolutely no relation to the plot.  Legend has it that producer/director Ted V. Mikels conceived the scene to cut production costs.  If this story bears truth, it explains just how much Mikels cared about the film.  And if the director cares so little about the movie, why should an audience care at all?


That opening scene isn’t misleading.  This film is a total mess on all ends, a jumbled disaster that is part Frankenstein, part James Bond and part Hardy Boys mystery, and none of these elements gel at all.  It involves the C.I.A., several other international espionage organizations, plenty of science labs and scientists, and the creation of an “astro-man,” by Dr. DeMarco.  Sloppy editing, continuity errors and some of the most slipshod shooting ever committed to film abound.  If you can make any sense of this, you’re a better intellectual than I.



Poor John Carradine



The acting certainly doesn’t help, as one can argue those robots in the credits give the best performances in the film.  Poor John Carradine looks like he’s ready to cry in most of his scenes as DeMarco, as if he’s remembering his glory days acting in THE GRAPES OF WRATH and wondering how it all came to this.  Forced to spit out long lines of  scientific jargon that make George Lucas’ dialogue look like Shakespeare’s balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, Carradine appears to be in physical pain. Wendell Corey had starred in REAR WINDOW, and was dealing with severe alcoholism by this point.  Even in a drunken stupor, he must’ve considered just how different it was acting for Mikels as opposed to Albert Hitchcock.  The film’s two other big stars are Tura Satana’s boobs. I’ve been in love with Ms. Satana’s Hell of Fame worthy rack since I was a young man and first saw FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!, but even the sight of her lovely body can’t redeem a fraction of this film.  Casting her as a sexy foreign bombshell who wants DeMarco’s secrets so she can save her country from who knows what stretches credibility so far it breaks.


If that wasn’t enough to drag down any picture, there are the Astro-Zombies themselves. They’re actually not astro-zombies, as that would involve star power.  Instead they’re Solar-Zombies, powered by the sun.  Or, when it’s dark and their battery runs down, flashlight power.  Yes, you read that right.  Imagine an Astro-Zombie is running around the streets of Los Angeles with a flashlight pressed to the solar panel on his forehead.  Oh wait.  You don’t have to imagine it.  That scene actually takes place in the flick.  I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried, folks.  As for their appearance, the two of them run around with skull masks with steel mesh over the mouths, If a kid came to my door for Halloween wearing one of these, I would say, “Cool mask, kid.”  But this is a Hollywood production, not a night of trick or treating.



Gratuitous Tura Satana shot in a MUCH better flick



ASTRO-ZOMBIES also has a misogynistic streak a mile wide.  One of the zombies clearly has a bone for the fairer sex, and this is an exploitation flick, so that makes sense.  But some of the scenes border on rape, and that’s not only incongruous with the goofiness of the flick, but outright disgusting.  Tying Satana down to a bed may have turned on Mikels, but I find it crass.


If you’ve never seen the trailer for THE ASTRO-ZOMBIES, it’s three minutes long and gives away every kill in the flick.  If you don’t want to spoil the movie for yourself, don’t watch it.  In fact, don’t watch THE ASTRO-ZOMBIES.  It’s a lurid piece of trash that only qualifies as “film” because it’s moving images with sound applied.  Those poor robots deserved a much better film debut than this.


-Phil Fasso

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