While it’s true that one should never judge a movie by its title, it’s also true that sometimes a title is all you need to hear to know that the movie is going to be god awful, and no film better proves this than Ray Dennis Steckler’s unnecessarily long-titled film The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies!!? (1964). The film stars Steckler (who uses the painfully-obvious fake name Cash Flagg in the credits) as Jerry, a lazy, unemployed man who mumbles all of his lines in this terrible movie. Jerry, along with his best friend Harold (Atlas King) and high-haired girlfriend Marge (Carolyn Brandt), all head out to a creepy, nightmarish carnival.
After a run-in with the most stereotypical gypsy fortune-teller ever, Jerry decides to check out one of the worst dance-chorus’s ever produced. Seemingly baffled by his girlfriend’s unwillingness to join him in openly ogling other women, Jerry tells his friend Harold to take Marge home and then heads off to watch the show. During the show, Jerry becomes infatuated with Carmelita the dancer (Erina Enyo), who also happens to be the fortune teller’s sister. He is invited backstage and quickly hypnotized into becoming a psychotic killer for reasons that are never fully addressed nor explored.
There are so many faults with this movie that to explore all them would require an article so massive it would crash the entire internet. First off, the title–besides being unnecessarily long–is also incredibly misleading. The “zombies” mentioned in the title do not appear until roughly 75 minutes into the film–a film, which is itself, only 82 minutes long. In fact, most of the film appears to be cobbled together footage of a local talent show featuring clubfooted dancers, a lame comedian, and so many terrible music acts that you become overwhelmed with the desire to donate money to public school music programs in hopes of ensuring that such mistakes will be avoided in the future.
On the rare occasion that we’re treated to a non-talent show scene, it’s more of a curse than a blessing since no one in this film appears to have any acting ability at all. But even if the principal cast were capable of emoting and delivering lines it wouldn’t matter much since the sound-guy and boom-mic were apparently ten feet away from the actors at all times, not only providing a terrible soundtrack where it’s impossible to understand the actors, but also one that seems filled with unexplained noises and sounds that have nothing to do with what’s happening on screen.
But despite the terrible script, the abhorrent acting, the lame costumes, and occasionally shambolic editing, Steckler’s film is not without its silver-linings, few that they are. The film contains one of the most strange and bizarre dream sequences ever in cinema (a sequence that could rival anything David Lynch could think up), and while that said sequence doesn’t redeem the hundreds of other errors made by this film, it shows that Steckler is at least willing to experiment and is slightly more creative than most schlocky, B-horror film directors from his time period.
There is also, of course, the unintentional hilarity that pervades throughout the film–the glaring continuity errors, the horrible acting, the constant unintelligible dialogue, the rare intelligible dialogue which at times is worse than the unintelligible dialogue, all of this provides constant fodder and opportunities to crack wise at the films expanse, providing some level of entertainment that other bad movies lack.
And so, Ray Dennis Steckler’s The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies!!? might be a terrible, terrible movie, but its phantasmal camerawork, odd sequences and “cheese factor” make a film that’s worth seeing–as long as you have company and friends who like to rip on bad movies.
Find the nearest Blockbuster near your home so you can rent this film almost immediately. Or, if you prefer that movies came to you instead, set up a Netflix account and start your ordering as soon as possible.