Sunday 13 March 2016

IMDb Bottom 100 Review - Number 35 The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies!!

I know you’re probably thinking “has he gone insane making up titles for these films now where does the madness end?” And I honestly can’t blame you for thinking something along those lines. If you were thinking about touching strangers inappropriately on the street or throwing rocks at small animals, I’d probably blame you. But that’s really neither here nor there. This movie really bears that striking title, and it really kind of does fit. Because like the title, this movie is super stupid. If you can make your way past the title however, please enjoy some moments reading my review of…

My face when watching this movie.

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies!! (1964)

I won’t say I exactly looked forward to watching this movie, because that hasn’t been true a single time so far. But with a title this moronic, I admit I was a little curious as to what the makers had come up with. Because surely people making a film with a title like that had to have poked fun at themselves a little, right? I don’t mean like it would be a comedy. I mean you make a zombie movie and throw in some fun gags and stuff and give it a title that indicates that you don’t take yourself super seriously. Right? Nope. This movie is dead serious. And apparently the title is too. It might’ve come about in a stillborn attempt to apply to a younger demographic by being cool or something. I’m sure there has been done research or questions have been asked, but I honestly don’t want to spend precious time on Earth looking for those. Suffice to say, the movie is serious and the title is too and whoever made that decision did bad and should feel bad.

Jerry looking less than skeptical at this Roma's shenanigans.

The story in this movie seems like it should be pretty basic. However, it’s not quite as straight forward as you might think. No evil scientists or nuclear accident in this. No siree, this time it’s the Romas' fault. Their motivation eludes us, but with Romas, you don’t really need motivation. They are  apparently inherently evil. A young girl is in love with the neighborhood black sheep dude, Jerry. I’m not sure why he isn’t liked by her parents, because he seems just about the most milquetoast dude ever. But he doesn’t have a job, and in 1964 that was the same as doing drugs. Jerry takes Marge to a carnival, where they visit the Roma fortune teller lady, and Jerry makes the mistake of scoffing at her predictions. If only he had lived in 2016, he’d know not to laugh at Roma ladies at carnivals. Anyway, they walk out and Jerry immediately becomes crazily infatuated with a stripper/belly dancer. He sends Marge on her way and watches the stripshow among a crowd of underwhelmed patrons. Unbeknownst to Jerry, stripper lady is Roma queen’s sister, and Jerry is soon lured into the back room, where he is turned into something supposed to be a zombie. 

Wart on face and she turns from Elizabeth Taylor to crazy Roma woman. Hell I'm suspecting Taylor did this movie uncredited.

You might think that there is nowhere else to go at this point, plotwise. And you’d actually be kind of right. But you'd be forgetting the subplot, featuring a singer/dancer and her dancing partner. She needs to quit drinking or she’ll get fired. In that process she somehow incurs the wrath of the Roma queen and is subsequently murdered. I have a really hard time connecting the dots here, and I do believe I actually watched the whole movie without napping or bathroom breaks where I ‘accidentally’ forgot to pause the movie. So we’ll let this subplot stay unresolved except to say, that Jerry ends up being the one who kills her and her partner. Marge recruits her brother and one of Jerry’s friends to free Jerry. This ends up being a half assed chase across a sandy beach ultimately leading to Jerry’s death when two policemen become involved. I think, possibly, before this happened, Jerry, with the last thread of humanity in him, managed to open the cage door to the Roma zombie stash, and the monsters pour out and kill every Roma around, but apparently nobody else and there isn't a pandemic or anything. The end. 

Kind of a diverse crowd for a burlesque strip show. But perhaps the 60s were different.

This movie sucked a lot. It’s hard to find much to say about it that isn’t already covered in that one sentiment. It’s from 1964 and, like the other movies from the sixties we’ve reviewed here, it’s super shitty quality. Obviously, since it’s a B100 contender, the plot and acting and story is subpar, but it’s just the look of the movie too. I’ve seen movies from the 30s that looked better than this, and I assume it has to do with equipment quality and thus prices. I just can’t help but think, if you’re gonna make a movie, at least have the common decency to make it look somewhat good. This looks like it was shot through a pair of binoculars. It’s a subconscious thing to me I guess, but I get unreasonably annoyed and pissed off about it. Like the whole movie is a shitty peep show flick from the 1910s. Grainy and choppy and like you just woke up from one of those naps in the afternoon that feels like somebody doused you in olive oil and you can’t get it out of your eyes. That’s how this film feels to me. Then there is acting and directing.

Is this the face of somebody who directed endless pornos? I guess it is.

Both of which suck. Jerry does a somewhat decent job, but his looks are not believable. And I’m not really criticizing Jerry’s looks as much as I’m criticizing the casting director’s (if there was such a person) choice in actor. Jerry looks like he’d be better fit as a teaching assistant at a local community college’s physics department than a 1960s cool cat. Marge is completely off the mark, even for a movie this crappy. The Roma queen kind of pulls her role off, but she kept reminding me of Elizabeth Taylor from back in her heyday, and it threw me off. Like she was a pretty face they had stuck a giant wart on, and it seemed kind of ham fisted. Like they started giving a shit and then remembered they actually didn’t. She has a henchman that sort of hangs around and I’m not sure how to describe him. He reminded me of Scarecrow of Oz fame, but infinitely less well made. The zombies were alright I guess? I mean you didn’t see them much, and Jerry never fully transformed enough, to warrant lots of make up. The ones that poured out to slay Romas at the end looked pretty stupid, but not as much as say the jerk off who killed people in Yucca Flats

Subtlety wasn't on the cast list for this plot.

This movie had like 4 or 5 musical bits with dancing, that seemed completely unwarranted. It’s a movie about zombies doing the bidding of Romas. Why the fuck are we then treated to people prancing around to repugnant music in offensive outfits? It seems like it’s thrown in as a vehicle for somebody’s latent desire to become a music hall actor/director or putting out an album or something like that. It had no bearing on the already fragile plot whatsoever. It was basically wasting everybody’s time. The entire movie was. Granted it didn’t look like it had a budget of more than you could confidently beg off of strangers on the street in a mid sized city over the course of a week, but even with that kept firmly in mind, somebody must have fronted the money for this movie to blink into existence. People have come together to collectively craft a piece of cinema. Did anybody at any point during the process of making this, think it was going to be a masterpiece? Or did they make it, realize it was complete shit, and stick that title on it, hoping it would scare people off?

The only thing this movie accomplished was to associate astrology with Romas and tag it as mumbo jumbo.

All in all watching this movie felt like a waste. Not as much a waste as I’ve been through before, but enough that I was mildly annoyed after watching it. Like it’s offensive that somebody makes movies like this under the premise that others will inadvertently pay to watch it mistaking it for an actual good movie (hard to believe with that title, but the principle stands.) Not a single person on the cast list has their profile image on IMDb, and perhaps that’s a shitty measuring device to determine the success and appeal of a movie, but it’s proven somewhat of a recurring rule. One person does stand out, I suppose, and that’s the director and main star, Jerry. Played by a guy named Ray Dennis Steckler. Or that might be his name. He’s credited as Cash Flagg for his acting. He was active up until 2009 so I took a glance at his credits and found that they mostly consisted of porn. Debbie Does Las Vegas was the only one I read about, mostly because the title was iconic in nature and I figured I might have some sort of contextual knowledge that would help me in understanding what Ray Dennis was up to. I can’t say I gained much understanding. The guy made pornos. It’s pretty straight forward. This explains the lewd semi-clad nature of the performers in the extensive and extravagant musical bits in this movie. If only Ray Dennis had gone full porno, I might have enjoyed this more. But it couldn’t even give me that. Instead I watched incredibly stupid creatures who should’ve stopped living altogether.

Jerry pays the ultimate price for his insolence: Shot by police. Perhaps the movie was a social commentary on police brutality? Who the fuck knows. 


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