Thursday, July 17, 2008


Aficionados of cult cinema will no doubt be familiar with filmmaker Ted V. Mikels, director of everything from exploitation actioners like the CHARLIE'S ANGELS rip-off THE DOLL SQUAD to tame horror quickies such as BLOOD ORGY OF THE SHE-DEVILS. But perhaps his most famous title is the 1967 sci-fi/horror hybrid (conspicuously light on science or chills) ASTRO-ZOMBIES--though the presence of John Carradine and FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! beauty Tura Satana contribute more to its fringe appeal than the so-called plot.

A half-baked spy "thriller" as much as science fiction, the story concerns a group of interchangeable CIA agents on the hunt for the demented Dr. DeMarco (Carradine), a former Space Agency scientist who's been up to no good. DeMarco's been conducting experiments on the cadavers of dead criminals, creating a super-powered "Quasi-Man" that escapes and embarks on a killing spree.

While one of Mikel's better-known films, ASTRO-ZOMBIES isn't nearly as fun as some of his other movies like THE CORPSE GRINDERS. Besides a needlessly convoluted and hard-to-follow espionage subplot, there's very little action involving the Astro-Zombies (or, really, Astro-Zombie, since the miniscule budget really couldn't afford a whole army of these things). Most of the picture consists of thuddingly dull expository speeches, and though no one really watches a Ted V. Mikels movie for its breakneck pace, it's still excruciatingly boring. Attempts to liven the festivities with a little exotic dancing are wasted, since the dancing on display's as exotic as Friday Night Bingo at the local VFW.

Interesting side note: M*A*S*H's Wayne Rogers is credited with co-writing the screenplay.

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