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Movie Review: Teenage Zombies (1959)

Charles Rector's Weblog; Nov. 3, 2015; By Charles Rector
Type: Review

Teenage Zombies (1959)

     One common belief amongst movie fans is that all zombie flicks are part and parcel of the horror genre. Actually, while the vast majority of zombie movies are horror, there are a few that are science fictional. One such film is the 1959 effort Teenage Zombies.

     The basic premise of Teenage Zombies is that humans can be transformed by the application of a gas into mindless zombies. These zombies are nothing but mindless automatons who exist only to serve their masters. Needless to say, these are not the rampaging zombies of movies such as "Night of the Living Dead" and later flicks.

     Teenage Zombies begins at a quintessential 1950's malt shop. There, high school football star Reg (Don Sullivan) talks about taking his friends water skiing. When they seem reluctant, he brings up the fact that he has discovered a previously unknown island out beyond the bay.

     This surprises his friends for they had no idea that such an island even existed since none of them had ever seen or heard of such a thing. It is clear from this point on that none of the characters in this movie have ever seen a map.

     Reg takes three of his friends to the mysterious island. There, they fall into the clutches of the evil Dr. Myra (Katherine Victor) who is a mad scientist who is experimenting in gases that turn ordinary humans into mindless zombie slave laborers. Even worse, Dr. Myra is working in cahoots with a pair of Soviet agents on a scheme to create large numbers of gas capsules to drop on the United States. On top of all that, the local sheriff is in this scheme so much so that he has been supplying Dr. Myra with large numbers of "drunks and prisoners" for her experimentation. It’s up to two of Reg's friends who did not go to the island, Morrie (Jay Hawk) and Dotty (Nan Green) to figure out what happened to their friends or else both their friends and the United States of America are doomed to Communist zombie enslavement.

     Perhaps the most interesting actress in this movie is Brianne Murphy who played the role of Pam. Murphy was the real life wife of producer Jerry Warren who taught her how to make movies. Murphy worked on Warren's productions as well as other low budget cinematic efforts. Eventually, Murphy (who eventually divorced Warren) worked her way up to become on of the first females to work in the production department of a major studio. Murphy even won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or a Special for the 1985 TV production "There Were Times, Dear."

     Teenage Zombies is a classic example of a movie that is so bad that it is really good. There are loads of unintentional humor in this science fiction zombie flick ranging from the fancy dressing mad female scientist Dr. Myra to the hapless Communist secret agents to the bizarre zombies such as Ivan to the hopelessly incompetent U.S. Army types to the goofy teenagers themselves. If you are in need of a good laugh, then Teenage Zombies is the movie for you.

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