The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?

1964 "monster musical"

Rating: 3/20 (Dylan: 2/20)

Plot: Jerry takes his girlfriend and his buddy to an amusement park so that they can run around like teenagers in the 1950s used to. While there, Jerry is seduced by a stripper and hypnotized by a murderous prognosticator which I guess makes him a Mixed-Up Zombie. Or an Incredibly Strange Creature. Whatever he turns into, it understandably messes up his love life.

According to the poster, this is starring an actor named Cash Flagg, but don't be fooled. Cash Flagg is Ray Dennis Steckler, a guy who apparently wanted to prove with one movie that he could neither act or direct. It's famously bad, known for its ridiculously long title (although Roger Corman's 1957 The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent beats it) and for being cinema's first "monster musical," a genre that in hindsight is likely unncecessary. About half of the movie consists of these excruciating song and dance numbers. They were bizarre and badly performed and succeeded only in making me feel like a Mixed-Up Zombie who wanted to stop living. The poster also advertises that it was filmed in Terrorama which must be a euphemism for "We only had a budget of a hundred bucks." Actually, I found through my research (that's right; I research) that the budget for this was 38,000, money apparently used unwisely. Steckler also used a nifty trick he called Hallucinogenic Hypnovision which involved people in masks running around the theater scaring the audience. Another interesting bit of trivia: the producers of Dr. Strangelove were annoyed at the original title of this film (The Incredibly Strange Creature: Or, Why I Stopped Living and Became a Mixed-Up Zombie) and threatened lawsuit. Anywho, the movie, one that might inspire a person to use words like anywho. It's got an unscripted quality, probably because Steckler was the type of director who didn't use scripts. Scripts? Who needs 'em!? Steckler also apparently utilizes a special filming technique called Nausea Cam, most naturally during scenes on a roller coaster and almost naturally during some of the dancing scenes but not naturally at all when the actors are just standing there having a conversation. The actors look nauseated themselves a lot of the time. My favorite character in this mess is Ortega, the fortune teller's assistant. I think he might be one of the titular strange creatures. He might have been just a clown or a hobo though. My favorite performance, however, was Atlas King (another pseudonym?) as Jerry's friend Harold. Atlas is only in one other film, another Steckler masterpiece released the same year. I'm sure bad sound contributed, but I couldn't understand a word the guy said, something that surprisingly didn't really make the movie any more difficult to understand. And the bad sound didn't make the other actors unintelligible. Dylan watched this with me as a punishment and took his own notes. He gave me his notes, so if you don't believe me that this film is a must-see, maybe you'll trust him: muffled/undiscernable voices, dark and blurry and hard to see, really bad music, really bad dancing, camera angles--what's with that under-the-car shot?, disembodied voices, day/night continuity errors, random and irrelevent shots, long boring songs that don't advance the plot, no incredibly strange creatures in the movie. See? It's exactly what lovers of bad cinema look for in a movie!

Note: Ray Dennis Steckler directed Rat Pfink A Boo Boo, a movie that I have been wanting to see for twenty-two years.

You can watch this on Hulu or, with the Mystery Science Theater robots, on Netflix.

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