Sunday, February 20, 2011


The recent passing of Tura Satana (see an upcoming THE DREAMER HAS AWAKED) had me wanting to re-visit her past glories like FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!,  but opted for the later, somewhat lesser known ASTRO ZOMBIES (1969) instead.  Ted Mikels' film is a mangled low-budget mess from beginning to end,  a guilty pleasure that really must be seen to be believed.  Its "plot", "dialogue",  "special effects",  and "acting"  are nothing short of hilarious. Make sure to catch the solar-powered astro zombie running from the scene of his bungled murder attempt with a flashlight held to the solar panels on his forehead!  Rafael Campos as Satana's campily sadistic, switchblade wielding hitman Juan gives new meaning to political incorrectness!  That someone like John Carradine (who plays Dr. DeMarco) is involved gives you some idea of the kind of financial desperation he was probably feeling at the time. Perhaps he thought he was making Art?  That he was almost certainly paid pennies on the dollar or not at all makes his involvement even sadder.  My favorite scenes are those in DeMarco's basement laboratory,  where the good doctor and his deformed assistant (no makeup,  just a ridiculously contorted face!) Francho experiment in the creation of astro zombies.  Here the soundtrack turns to a kind of no-fi electronica,  and may be one of the first films (along with the much earlier and far superior FORBIDDEN PLANET) to give primitive oscillator-driven sounds such prominence. Nico Karaski is credited with music in the opening "robot dance" credits so I'm assuming he's responsible for the knob twiddling here.  It's truly the sound of cardboard machinery gasping for a good editor.

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