• Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: 2/15/2011
    Director: Ray Dennis Steckler
    Cast: Ray Dennis Steckler, Carolyn Brandt, Brett O’Hara, Atlas King, Sharon Walsh
    Year: 1964

    The Movie:

    In the annals of MST3Kdom, there are movies that deserve the skewering that they receive at the hands of the Satellite Of Love crew far more than others. An example? Mario Bava’s Danger! Diabolik might be campy, but it’s not poorly made by a long shot. There are, however, obvious choices, those films that have such an obvious ‘kick me’ sign hanging off of their ass that you can’t help yourself – the late, and yes, great Ray Dennis Steckler’s improbably titled The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies, made in 1964, is one such film.

    The plot of the film is actually pretty simple – a woman named Madame Estrella (Brett O’Hara) runs a fortune telling booth at a carnival, but she’s got a bad side to her. At this same carnival arrives a guy named Jerry (Steckler under the awesome alias of Cash Flagg) and his moderately attractive girlfriend, Angie (Sharon Welsh), and their strange mutual friend, Harold (the equally awesomely named Atlas King), who has an Eastern European accent and a pompadour. Jerry is instantly smitten with a burlesque dancer at the carnival named Carmelita (Erina Enyo) -we never learn why there’s a burlesque show at this carnival but it’s best not to question Steckler’s logic, of lack thereof - makes cutesy eyes at him. Angie is not amused, and Jerry has Harold take her home while he checks out her act. Well, as luck would have it, Estrella, who is in cahoots with Carmelita, is some sort of master hypnotist and somehow manages to turn Jerry into a mindless zombie who kills at her bidding.

    Angie finds herself on Jerry’s hit list, and you can’t really blame him as she’s a bit of a bitch, but good old Harold jumps in and stops Jerry before he can cut her up – at this point they realize something is wrong with Jerry, and then Estrella throws acid at people and Jerry runs around on the beach like a spazz.

    A movie as nonsensical as this one is a pretty easy target for the MST3K crew but they don’t take the easy way out on this one. The running commentary is widely and understandably regarded as one of their finest and for good reason. The jokes fly fast and the barrage is one you’ll be glad to jump in front of. Whether it’s their perfectly timed version of Harper Valley PTA worked into one of the dance routines or their amazingly accurate and poignant ability to work Christmas carols into some of the music that appears in the film, the crew bring their A-game to this skewering and we’re all the better for it. Digs at Steckler’s feeble beach run towards the end of the film are impossible not to laugh at while completely reasonable questions about the morality of the carnival/burlesque connection and Jerry’s perpetually crabby demeanor will make you laugh simply because they appear on the commentary about half a second before they’ll pop into your own head.

    The sketches that are worked in between the commentary segments are amusing enough, but this is one of those MST3K entries that you’re going to want simply for how perfectly it lampoons Steckler’s amazingly inept film.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The fullframe interlaced transfer that graces this DVD won't blow you away but it’s watchable enough particularly when taken in the intended context. You will see the MST3K silhouettes in front of the screen so purists take note, and the transfer is taken from an old TV master so those expecting the movie to appear here as it was originally intended will be disappointed. That said, it looks as good here as it did on TV when it first aired and pristine video quality isn't really the point here. If you’ve seen MST3K before, you’ll know what to expect.

    The commentary comes through nice and clear, there are no problems understanding the participants as they're balanced nicely against the audio from the movie itself. As far as the quality of that part is concerned, it's on par with the transfer. It's not great; in fact, there are times where it sounds quite shrill. It gets the job done, I suppose, but it's nothing impressive.

    There are no extras on this disc at all, just a simple static menu and chapter stops.

    The Final Word:

    One of the funniest MST3K episodes, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies is also one of Steckler’s more amazing films and a subject ripe for taking. The barebones nature of the release is a bit of a disappointment, but MST3K fans already know they need this.

    Note: At the time of this writing, this disc is a Shout! Factory exclusive and can only be purchased off of their website.