Give a guy a $50 budget, a minivan-load of F-grade actors from the local community college continuing education program, a suburban house, and a skiff and what do you get?
Well, in the case of Jerry Warren, one time teeny-bit-part actor and now 50's schlock horror producer/importer, you get a film about the planned takeover of the world by a woman in an evening gown and her legion of zombies.
All zombies will be played by one guy, and later by another guy in a gorilla costume.
Jerry Warren wasn't just the director of this wholly amateur effort, he was the writer (under a pseudonym), producer (under a pseudonym), sound guy (under a pseudonym)— you get the idea right?
Standard 50's era cheapy exploitation and/or drive in fodder wasn't just relegated to crap starring a morphined-out Bela Lugosi, dozens of little directors of teeny tiny films were churning out Drive-in B pics like Teenage Zombies. From Larry Buchanan, Robert Lippert, and Roger Corman sprung crap like Attack of The Eye Creatures, The Lost Continent and King Dinosaur, or Attack of the Crab Monsters. These paired with dreck like Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space, or Bride of the Monster, and Teenage Zombies doesn't look so bad.
It looks worse.
Jerry Warren was ambitious and when not importing and mangling Mexican films into abominations like The Wild World of Batwoman he was making films that didn't really star anyone, had no special effects, and discussed grandiose plans that you'd never see in any way shape or form in the film where these conversations take place.
Case in point is Teenage Zombies (I know, I'm getting off track), Skip, Reg, and their gals Pam and Judy make plans at the local malt shop to spend the afternoon water skiing with Morrie and Dottie. See, Skip has this hand made, custom, hot rod boat that's just killer for waterskiing (we will not see this boat at all in the film). He'll take the others out first then circle back and pick up Morrie and Dottie.
It'll be great.
Skip mentions that Pam has packed a lunch or them and knows the location of a mysterious island where they'll eat lunch. Before you can say shambling zombies the boat is gone and the four are captured by Dr. Myra. She's a very pretty woman in an evening dress who despite the presence of Pepsi in her very 1950s kitchen explains that no one ever comes to the island so no one has a need for a boat.
Screaming through what little plot there is here, Morrie and Dottie go to the sheriff when their friends don’t show up. Dr. Myra, we learn is making nerve gas capsules of various strengths to create an army of super-zombies who will do the bidding of her and her nefarious contacts. However, sometimes the gas only makes the subjects into rage monsters, others react well and become zombies, in rare cases they become guys in very cheap gorilla costumes. She needs more time to perfect her plan, but her contacts have discovered a spy in their organization and worry that the CIA is already alerted to their nefarious deeds.
Shot like a poorly directed high school play, on what can only be 8MM stock, Teenage Zombies is a waste of every kind of time — From the cast of "teens" that include four actors who could be the teen chapter of the AARP and one who looks uncannily like Dean Venture — To the stock music that in no way matches any of the film over which it blares — to gargantuan plot holes, non-existent special effects, and an ending that just sort of drags on and on like an elaborate but poorly constructed joke. Teenage Zombie has absolutely nothing going for it.
But Teenage Zombies is hilariously awful, and at 70 or so minutes doesn't overstay its welcome. Grab pizza, beer, a couple of smartass friends, groan through some of the most tortured and poorly acted dialogue ever committed to film, and this can be the centerpiece of a great "bad movie night".
The DVD from our friends at Alpha Video is a public domain title, and like virtually all of these releases, can be had for pennies on the dollar. This title cost less than $3.
$3 sounds great, but the problem is that no cleanup work ever gets done to these cheap-ass public domain special so they look like a terrible 8MM projection transferred to DVD in real time. This thing has muddy sound, scratchy visuals, and more artifacts than an Indiana Jones Box Set, and no special features other than a plastic case.
There should be a DVD rescue squad or something that finds and saves these orphans of the weird old days and at least releases them in a watchable condition with maybe some notes on the director as a text file or something. There have to be people like me who'd gladly pay $10 or so for what amounts to a $1 movie.