Forgotten Films: Teenage Zombies (1957)
This is the 59th in my series of Forgotten Obscure or Neglected Films
Back in 2010 when I was looking for a wall calendar to place in my office, I ran across one dedicated to horror movies which contained four DVDs covering the 12 movies featured. The feature for March was TEENAGE ZOMBIES, a film I was unfamiliar with. Always on the lookout for rare pieces of schlock or fun I decided this one would be this week’s forgotten film.
I was particularly fascinated when I saw the film poster had a mad gorilla on it. As I have stated before (rephrasing Chris Roberson), there are very few films that cannot be enhanced with the addition of a gorilla. Surprisingly, that is true of this film, but mainly because it would be hard to be worse.
A group of four teens go out water-skiing at the nearby lake when one suggests they visit the small island at the far end of the lake. None of the others was aware of the island, so they go there. After having a picnic lunch on the beach, they see a figure moving around. Believing the island to be deserted, they decide to check it out. There they see a group of zombies walking around. When they decide to leave, they find the boat has disappeared! They search again and find a small mansion. There they encounter Dr. Myra (Katherine Victor, whose previous film was the classic howler MESA OF LOST WOMEN). She is conducting experiments in zombiefication for an eastern power and is always in need for test subjects so she has the hunchback zombie Ivan (Chuck Niles) take the two couples hostage.
Meanwhile, another couple who was supposed to meet up with the water-skiers is causing trouble with the local authorities and is making them actually search for the missing teens. They finally force the sheriff to take them along in the search and they arrive at the island shortly after the arrival of two more spies. Dr. Myra is making a serum/gas that they want to use to poison America’s water supplies. They test it out on the gorilla (Mitch Evans), and it makes the raging beast a docile slave. The two boys have broken free of their cell but are unable to break the lock on the girls’ cell before the girls are summoned for a human test of the gas.
The sheriff and the two teens arrive and, surprise, the sheriff is in on the deal! Now they have six victims, but the boys get the jump on them and get the guns. The spies are captured, the girls are not zombiefied and America is saved once again.
This is the product of cheap-o director Jerry Warren. He gave us such classics as THE WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN (a MST3K favorite which I now really want to see!) which also starred Katherine Victor and THE INCREDIBLE PETRIFIED WORLD. IMDB states that Katherine Victor was paid $300 for her lead role as Dr. Myra in TEENAGE ZOMBIES. The film had the great tagline “See Teenage Girls Thrust Into the Weird Pulsating Cage of Horror!”
They just do not make them like this anymore. And I am relatively sure Bill Crider must have seen this classic at the drive in during its original release.
Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.