“What kind of a creep joint is this?”
“A place of research and discovery. A place where science is free from the interference of stupid politicians.”
The always entertaining Jerry Warren brings us Teenage Zombies, where a very Archie comics-style group of 50’s sock hoppers meets at the malt shop and decides to take the boat out for a picnic lunch on a mysterious local island one of them’s heard rumor of.
After the kids stumble upon a glamorous woman in full eveningwear lording it over a very traditional group of zombie slaves (think White Zombie more than Fulci and Romero), their boat mysteriously disappears.
In short order, the two rather old looking but believably delinquent teenage guys (Don Sullivan and Paul Pepper) and their much younger looking arm candy girlfriends (Mitzie Albertson and Brianne Murphy) find themselves the unwilling guests of the sinister Dr. Myra (Katherine Victor) and her goofy, John Astin lookalike hunchback manservant Ivan (Chuck Niles).
Luckily, their overly earnest geeky pal Morrie (Jay Hawk) and his equally ass kissing girlfriend Dottie (Nan Green) decide to appropriate a pal’s boat (“hey, let’s take one of Wally’s boats and look around! Wally won’t mind!”) and head out to…that same island, which they weren’t even at the malt shop to hear discussion of! Convenient…
There are mad, unregulated scientists, Communist scare business, hunchbacks with their eyes rolled up in their head, drugged out “zombies”, awful fashions (check out Morrie and Dottie’s rolled up baggies and her perfectly hideous hairdo) and even a guy in a gorilla suit. I ask you, what’s not to love?
Fred Olen Ray’s in house grey market label Retromedia released this one years ago, giving fans his typical standard of releasing quality: grainy, with tracking lines and muffled audio. While I appreciate his putting out films (particularly German krimis and Euro-spy pictures) that no other label saw fit to invest in, the label is barely above the likes of Videoasia or the pre-BCI Eclipse Brentwood, so buyer beware (or be sure to get them on the cheap).
His print runs 1:10:17, and features interviews with stars Katherine Victor and Chick Niles, which are not ported over to the present release.
That aside, Vinegar Syndrome cleans Ray’s mess of a print up considerably, clarifying the sound and bringing a real sharpness to the visuals. They even add a few seconds of establishing footage after the credits, bringing the running time to 1:10:46.
Of course, nothing too positive can be said for Peter Perry’s Revenge of the Virgins, whose only real claim to fame is a script by none other than Ed Wood. But seriously, don’t get your hopes up.
Paired with the far more entertaining and aesthetic hippie era nudie western The Ramrodder and an assortment of likeminded stripper loops, this one was previously released by Something Weird Video several years back. Their print runs 52:33. There’s nothing really wrong with that version, and in fact it’s a step above much of Something Weird’s catalogue in terms of pure print quality.
Vinegar Syndrome still manages to up the ante, bringing this very forgettable topless western into a crisp hi-def with strong contrast and the sort of detail where you can pick out every individual stalk of brush on the mountainous location. The new master runs 52:46.
The bottom line is, Teenage Zombies is fun, microbudget 50’s sci-fi at its most entertaining. If you don’t have this one in the collection already or feel the need to upgrade to an appreciably superior quality print, you really can’t go wrong with this one.
The less said about the co-feature, the better, though it may have some collectible value for hardcore Ed Wood fans who need to scoop up every last thing the man had the slightest involvement with. Just don’t expect another Jail Bait or Fugitive Women, much less a Bride of the Monster or Plan 9.