Teenage Zombies (1959)

OCTOBER 31, 2008


OK, you might notice that the movie is called Teenage Zombies and yet “zombie” isn’t listed as one of the genre tags. Now, I know that pre-Romero, zombie movies had an entirely different meaning, but even by those standards this isn’t a fucking zombie. There’s a mad scientist who has rounded up a few girls and given them some sort of mind control shit, but they don’t goddamn DO anything in the movie, so it doesn’t count.

So what DOES happen in this movie? Well, let’s see.... nothing. Nothing at all. Near the end of the movie there is a hilariously inept “fight” sequence in which three of our good guys begin rolling around with three of the bad guys, but it looks like a bunch of drunks playing Twister more than any sort of combat. The closest it gets to actually being violent is when our heroine (the term being used looser than a stool after a metric ton of Olean Cheez-its) suddenly runs over and strangles the mad scientist chick. It’s hilarious, because the other folks are already “fighting”, so it just looks like she’s jealous of the other actors and decides to have some fun for herself.

Making this scene even more inert is the fact that it, like the 60 minutes before, is filmed entirely in one or two shots. At one point we watch what seems like 30 unbroken seconds of the three mini-fights. Entire scenes will go by in one master shot, even when only one person speaks throughout the whole thing. Occasional (VERY occasional) close-ups seem jarringly out of place on the rare times they occur, and you get the impression that they are being used to hide edits than the result of any sort of creative decision. I think there are about 100 cuts in the entire movie.

So is there anything to enjoy in this thing? Well, if you have the Mill Creek version (why in god’s name would you have any other?), you might like to know that for what I think is the first time ever, a chapter break (between ch. 2 and 3) actually occurs in between scenes! Most of the time they fall right in the middle of a scene (hell, a chapter starting in the middle of a line of dialogue isn’t unheard of on these things), so it’s cool that the stars aligned for this terrible film.

The only other thing I enjoyed (for lack of a better word) is when the “hero” is telling the cops about how his friend disappeared while water skiing. “Where was he heading?” the cop asked, and the kid replies that they were just water skiing without any destination, as if this was a critical character flaw. As opposed to all of the folks who use water skiing as a primary mode of transportation to get somewhere? “They were going to the mall, sir!”

So that’s about it. DVD mastering coincidences and one mildly amusing line of dialogue provides the extent of this movie’s worth. Otherwise, if you simply must watch a 1950’s “bunch of kids take on a villain” movie, stick with the vastly superior (if hardly what I would call GOOD) Bloodlust. At least that has Mr. Brady and a bow and arrow death.

What say you?


  1. i'm pretty sure that mill creek just sets their transfers to automatically put a new scene at every 15 minutes (or some other time increment)

    either that or they just like screwing with people

  2. TEENAGE ZOMBIES was on my "want to see" list for years, after first hearing of it in THE GOLDEN TURKEY AWARDS back in '79.

    Well, I've seen it....check, please.


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