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Home | Film Reviews | Bad Movies | Film Review: Teenage Zombies (1959)

Film Review: Teenage Zombies (1959)

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A crazed female scientist uses nerve gas to turn local teenagers into her unquestioning slaves.


While watching the film, Teenage Zombies, I started to think about a card game I used to play called Raw Deal. My friends and I really got into the game and actually had a local tournament scene going. We all watched WWE at the time, so a card game based around letting us build decks around our favorite in-ring performers was really enticing. Add to the fact that the game was just fun and we had ourselves a good time.

Now, you might wonder, what about this movie made me think of a card game based around pro-wrestling? Was a wrestler like El Santo in it? Or did it have familiar wrestling personalities of the era in it? Or did it, in some way, involve that particular form of sports entertainment?

The answer to all of those questions is simply: no. The only reason why I started thinking about that game was that the movie was so freaking dull and terrible that I believe my brain activated those memories as a defense mechanism to stop me from losing my mind. It was the only enjoyment I got out of the film’s entire run time. It was such a drag that the movie’s length seemed to defy the very laws of time. The clock said nearly an hour and twenty odd minutes had elapsed by the time the end credits rolled, but I’m pretty sure it took around 3 days to end.

This dreadful slog of tedium centers on a group of “teenagers” (read: 20+ somethings trying to pass themselves off as teenagers) go waterskiing when they somehow managed to find an island no one knew about. Of course, the fact that an island off the coast to their hometown managed to go unnoticed until these idiots find it is never explained nor is it remotely plausible. Anyway, this group stumbles upon a mad scientist that’s working on some kind of chemical that can turn people into mindless zombies. They get captured, managed to escape only to find out that the sheriff is working for the mad doctor. They later find themselves caught in a battle when a zombie gorilla that managed to get free from the chemical’s effects and attacks the bad guys while the main characters make their escape despite my firmest wishes that they die horribly.

This movie was so cheap looking that I’d be surprised if they actually had a budget above $20. What little makeup effects there were looks like they were applied by students from the local school for the vision impaired. The zombie primate that factors so heavily into the climax of the film was just a dude in one of the worst gorilla outfits I’ve ever seen in my life. With as many of these terrible movies I’ve had to sit through so far, that’s saying something. Some of the camerawork could have used some work since some of the scenes seemed like they were slightly out of focus. The sound quality, at least, was almost adequate.

Since the “zombies” are not the undead flesh-eating variety, you’re not going to see anyone wearing any prosthetics to make them look like walking corpses. This is a shame because it would have helped differentiate who’s supposed to be a zombie and who isn’t since all the actors gave performances like they’re sleepwalking. There isn’t a single decent performance to be found here, and the entire cast is terrible to the point that it was almost criminal. I feel like I should be able to press charges against these people because they certainly made me suffer.

Special mention goes to script-writer, director, and producer, Jerry Warren. He’s the person most responsible for this reprehensible pile of garbage. The dialogue, scenario, and various plot holes show that his incompetence as a writer. It’d be nice if he or his cinematographer actually knew how to block a scene or stay in focus. Warren also didn’t know how to direct, unless he wanted everything to look and sound like crap. If he knew anything about pacing or how to build suspense, this film could have been salvageable. Instead, all he did was give us this bland, dull, and unremarkable movie that doesn’t have anything going for it.

So, to sum it up: this movie is crap. Avoid it at all costs. Don’t even try to trick your worst enemy into watching it, because the law might consider it self defense if said enemy beat the tar out of you for doing it.

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