The Astro-Zombies is, basically, 2-3 movies mashed together badly. They’re not mashed together in the editing room, like with the Godfrey Ho Ninja films, but in the screenwriting process.
Plot A is based around a mad scientist who is fired from “The Space Agency” because of his extreme plan – to send solar powered re-animated corpses into space as spacemen – the titular “Astro-Zombies.” The scientist, Dr. DeMarco (John Carradine) thinks his research can better mankind, as it can not only be used for space exploration, but also to preserve great minds. However, the Astro-Zombies are also being used to kill, causing investigators of The Space Agency to get involved.
Plot B is based around spies of a hostile unspecified power, who are trying to steal secrets from The Space Agency, and, to tie into plot A, and have gotten knowledge of DeMarco’s work. They’ve decided to steal that, and in the process are cleaning up their network – killing a lot of people in the process.
In short, everything with the spies and government agency is executed very badly, both with the writing and the performances. The plot is also barely comprehensible – I had to talk myself through the plot several times before I got it.
The only strong suit of the movie is Carradine. I feel like I have greatly underrated him as an actor in the past. Carradine has some real Peter Cushing “couldn’t phone it in if he tried” energy. He’s handed a bunch of ham-handed, techno-babble heavy dialog, and he sells the crap out of it. At no point does it come across like he isn’t taking his character or his dialog seriously.
That said, none of this can save this dire movie. The film is currently available through Rifftrax (or on Amazon on-demand – buying anything through that link helps support the site), and that’s really the way to watch this film – indeed, it’s the only way to make the film watchable.
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