The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?
Review by Annie Riordan
aka: Teenage Psycho Meets Bloody Mary, Diabolical Dr. Voodoo, Cabaret der Zombies.
Year released: 1964
Starring: Ray Dennis Steckler aka Cash Flagg, Mrs. Ray Dennis Steckler aka Carolyn Brandt, a carnival, a giant wart, hey look a carnival, a lot of scorbutic strippers, wow a carnival, several hobos and a carnival.
I met Ray Dennis Steckler. Boom! Totally qualified to review this shit, bitches.
The Movie: A giant, mutated facial wart and the carnival gypsy fortune teller it’s attached to are building an army of disfigured zombies for reasons which remain unclear. Meanwhile, an alcoholic lounge dancer is on the brink of losing her full time job after stumbling drunkenly through an interpretive version of Mein Kampf. Also meanwhile, teenage Angela is heading out on a date with her terminally unemployed and prematurely balding boyfriend Jerry and his impossible to understand roommate Harold. All three parties will end up colliding at the seaside carnival with disastrous results.
Jerry ditches Angela in favor of a semi-comatose stripper named Carmelita, whose listless performance piece “Average Housewife Gets Ready for Bed” inexplicably draws enthusiastic crowds every night. Little does Jerry know that Carmelita has an ulterior motive for enticing him into her dressing room, namely that she is the younger sister of Warty McWartface and they are both totally evil and stuff.
Along with their sidekick – the week-old corpse of Peter Falk, if appearances do not deceive – the Triumvirate of Tepidity hypnotize Jerry with a giant spiral thingie and force him to do their bidding, killing anyone and everyone who might know anything about their zombie army, which they keep locked up in a guest bedroom and don’t seem to do anything with at all.
But after accidentally almost murdering Angela, Jerry decides it’s time to confront Carmelita and her crazyass sister. More disastrous results ensue as Angela, Harold and Angela’s weenie brother Madison give chase. WILL they arrive in time? CAN they stop the angry zombie army as they run amok? IS Angela’s hair actually constructed from pure fiberglass?
The Cast: I met Ray Dennis Steckler, who plays Jerry under the moniker of Cash Flagg. Have I mentioned that? And I even met him at a big screen showing of this film. So let’s have a little respect around here.
Nobody in this film ever really went on to do anything else, except to star in Steckler’s countless other trashola gems. However, a couple of interesting facts: watch carefully during the first dance number. The peroxide, gum chewing blonde in the chorus line is the same girl who plays Angela, the resulting of a last minute casting snafu. Ray and his real life wife Carolyn (who plays the drunken Marge in this flick) also appear in the notorious Eegah, as the poolside couple at films end. And, well, that’s about it really.
The Crew: If you squint, you might catch László Kovács in the background, playing a carnival goer. He also worked on the cinematography for this film before heading onto bigger and better things throughout the 70s and 80s. The camera operator was some guy named Vilmos Zsigmond who went on to work on such films as The Deer Hunter and Deliverance.
The Nutshell: This particular MST3k (Season 8, episode 12) may not be a good film per se, but it has its charm, as sleazy and faded Kodachrome tacky as that charm may be. It certainly sucked me into the world of trash cinema, scouring back issues of Sinister Cinema and tracking down all of Steckler’s other films that I could get my masochistic little hands on. Steckler himself actually seemed surprised when he asked me if I’d ever seen Rat Pfink a Boo Boo and I was able to answer in the affirmative. Did I already tell you about the time that I met Ray Dennis Steckler?
Best Riffs: Crow, upon spotting a bikini’d Carmelita walking down the hall wearing an ankle length cape over her shoulders: “Ah, cross-dressing British police inspector/stripper arrives.”
Tom Servo, watching a bevy of beautiful babes perform a weird quasi-African/Inuit/Swedish tribal dance at films climax: “Buried with my donkey! He’s my favorite honky!” (via Steve Martin circa 1978).