The Astro-Zombies (1968)

The Astro-Zombies is one of those Z-grade efforts where you can tell the producers had a bunch of props and sets left over from previous productions and wrote a script based around them. Therefore, the film makes absolutely no sense, and ends up throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the audience. We are left with a story involving mad scientist Dr. DeMarco (John Carradine) and his hunchback lab assistant who are attempting to create an army of ‘astro zombies’, superhuman beings whose actual purpose is sketchy. After one is loosed and goes on a killing spree, the CIA (led by a clearly sozzled Wendell Corey, who died due to his alcoholism shortly after filming) and a spy ring led by the great Tura Satana become interested.

It’s easy to label a film ‘the worst film ever!’, but The Astro Zombies, directed by schlock favourite Ted V. Mikels, truly lives up to its reputation. Carradine, bless him, makes a valiant attempt to make some kind of sense of the plot with some muffled monologues, but I got completely lost in all the drivel. There is the odd moment of camp weirdness such as the wounded astro zombie fleeing with a torch pressed against his head to keep itself alive or a naked exotic dance that serves absolutely no purpose, but it constantly lingers on endless laboratory scenes where literally nothing happens. The zombies themselves are nothing more than a man in a kind of insect/skull/mutant mask, and there’s only really one of them. It’s a truly painful experience that lacks the amusing moments of Mikels’ other ‘works’ such as The Corpse Grinders (1971) and The Doll Squad (1973), that at least made those films bearable. Truly painful stuff that could benefit from a good thirty minutes shaved off the running time.