Sometimes you just see a title and know that, for reasons good or bad, you simply HAVE to watch a film. That was me with ‘The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies.’
Sometimes you watch a movie and know that, for reasons good or bad, you will NEVER forget the film. That was, unfortunately, also me, after having watched ‘The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies.’
This film is on a close par with ‘Plan Nine from Outer Space’ as prime examples of everything that is wrong with how to make a movie. What makes ‘Plan Nine’ different from ‘TISCWSLaBM-UZ’ (what an acronym that is) is that it feels like much of the cast and crew of ‘Plan Nine’ knew the movie was going to be a hot mess, so you get really tepid performances to go along with the terrible plot and effects. In ‘TISCWSLaBM-UZ,’ you get the sense that everyone involved on the project sincerely feels like the movie could be something big for them, and as a result they are trying really hard to give you their best efforts; this makes watching the film feel all the more sad, because everyone fails so miserably. So, so miserably.
The long and short of the plot is that three friends go to a carnival and end up pissing off some gypsies, who try to exact their revenge by adding the trio to their collection of zombie servant/slaves. The onus of this movie‘s multiple shortcomings falls almost solely on the director of the film, Ray Dennis Steckler. Not only did Steckler direct and produce the film, he also, very humbly I‘m sure, starred in the movie, under the ever-so-classy porn-star-esque pseudonym of “Cash Flagg.” I‘ve decided this will be my new fake name that I give out to telemarketers and restaurant hostesses when making reservations they have to repeat over a loudspeaker. But I digress; Steckler wanted to be the first person to make a “monster musical,” and that‘s exactly what he made. The only problem with this is that not only is the music boring, nonsensical, and totally irrelevant to the plot of the story, the “monsters” in question – the titular incredibly strange creatures who do indeed stop living and become those darn mixed-up zombies – don‘t even make an appearance until the final 20 minutes of the movie, and even then they don‘t do much other than strangle a few people and (mercifully) interrupt a musical number.
This movie earns precious few points in the realm of “General Entertainment” simply for falling into the “so bad it‘s kinda fun to watch” category. I hate to even reference it as a musical because all the music-related parts of the film are just lounge acts with singers staring at the camera or ultra-cheesy dance numbers with third-grade choreography attached. It is music entertainment that is NOT entertaining. I do have to give credit to the four-minute dream sequence in the middle of the film that was so haphazard and random it literally made me say “what the f***?” out loud while watching this film alone at midnight. You win this round, Cash Flagg…
In terms of originality, there’s just not much here either. About 80% of the movie takes place inside a carnival, which has been done to death and is not scary in the least. Gypsies, silent henchmen, “rebel” boyfriends and the girls who love them, a half-assed police chase scene… you name it, it‘s been done before. I can give one Originality point for the amazingly-questionable title of the movie, and I feel that even that is being generous.
You want to know about how “realistic” the movie feels? Again, very slim pickings in this category. Steckler‘s character, Jerry, is supposedly a “rebel,” yet he spends almost all of his time in the family-friendly carnival environment. When Jerry is finally being turned into a zombie, he is supposedly hypnotized by a vertigo-inducing spinning wheel…even though his eyes are closed through almost the entire sequence. And speaking of the zombies, apparently, they are somehow given superhuman strength because they can strangle someone for approximately four seconds and kill that person. When the police show up at the carnival, the zombies are easily stopped; it appears that any bullet shot anywhere in the remote vicinity of the zombie is good enough to stop them permanently! Zombie Jerry somehow retains his ability to make rational choices (such as they are), and runs away from the police and his girlfriend, telling them to “go back!” to the carnival without him about 25 times in the span of about two minutes. Need I really provide more examples?
“But,” you say, “sure a film that lacks everywhere else has good looking special effects? Maybe?” Guh. The effects were nonexistent, as the zombies had some plaster on their faces and long hair in an attempt to make them look deformed and scary, but they just came across looking somewhat melted. I feel like I could go on forever about the editing, but I‘ll just give you my two biggest glaring problems: the crowds that watch the musical numbers are heard cheering raucously… while the same crowd is shown on screen, sitting absolutely still and silent. In the middle of the movie there is a two-minute segment between Jerry, his roommate, and his girlfriend; it serves no point, no one says a single word during the scene, and it‘s just kind of… there, as an unintentional staring contest. And I can tell you with certainty that in this contest, there are no winners.
Let‘s not sugar-coat it, here: this is a rough one to make it through. I‘m not too proud to admit I fell asleep watching it and had to go back to re-watch certain scenes, probably making me the first person in history to ever willingly re-watch any part of this film. Total-Camp lovers may like watching ‘TISCWSLaBM-UZ’ for the experience, but know you‘ve been warned: it‘s a bad, bad film, on many, many levels.
Tony Schaab firmly believes that a viewing of ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’ should be a mandatory bi-weekly experience and that a re-read-through of the original 7 manga volumes of the story should occupy every off week. A lover of most things sci-fi and horror, Tony is an author by day and a DJ by night. Come hang out with Tony on Facebook and Twitter to hear him spew semi-funny nonsense and get your opportunity to finally put him in his place.