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|Index||102 reviews in total|
I recommend this film for those of you who, like me, work out of the home and enjoy having warm, harmless, unimposing movies playing quietly in the background during the workday. Many critics have commented negatively about this movie's novel title, confusing plot (or lack thereof), queerly dated characters, unintelligible dialogue, garish color, inferior sound, etc. But in this connection, I can think of no other film that keeps on simultaneously garnering so much praise, while incurring an exactly proportionate censure, over precisely the same agreed "shortcomings." For example, some viewers balk that the film's dance numbers are both irrelevant and amateurish, therefore doubly unendurable. Others, like myself, find them so deliciously preposterous and unaccountably charming in their dated foolishness as to be worthy of repeated viewings. And this dualism just may be "Incredibly Weird. . ."s real strong suit. There's so much I could say in defense of this poorly-made film from a nicer, nostalgic time, when even Hollywood's low-rent district seemed sunny and safe- but much of it has already been said in these reviews, and very well at that. Let me confine my recommendation to this: if you're shopping to buy or rent a notoriously "bad" film, don't choose a jaded, overblown, written-by-committee, painfully self-conscious finger-wagger made c.1994 at a cost of over 50 million, and which was panned as a 1/2-star flop by every critic and moviegoer, yet managed to not only recoup its investment but launched three big-name careers in the process. No, friend, go with a stinker such as this fetid little endeavor, made on a shoestring, enlisting the dubious cooperation of an uninspired carnival sideshow troupe, and which best of all bears the boisterous but distinctive thumb-print of an overly-ambitious director/lead actor/ out-of-his-depth galoot like Ray Dennis Steckler. I couldn't explain it properly here in the space allowed, but "Incredibly Weird" seems to unintentionally exude a charmingly flatulent air biscuit of Americana; and if a film must have warts, this one has the ones that are best had. "Incredibly Weird . . ." - a pleasingly inept offering from the days when a film could be bizarre without giving in completely to the perverse, and could gain an audience with no visible means of sustaining one but its overwrought title and its hopelessly inept charm.
One of the most famous BAD movies ever made, mainly because of its legendary
title, which is arguably the best thing about it. Look this is an awful
movie, everybody knows that, but the question that should be asked is is it
worth watching? And the answer is HELL YES.
Ray Dennis Steckler lies somewhere between Ed Wood, Jr and Russ Meyer for me. Wood made laughably bad genre movies that have continued to fascinate because of their campy silliness. His movies are still tons of FUN all these years later. Russ Meyer was certainly not incompetent, but he created bizarre movies populated with strange, sex obsessed characters, who found themselves involved in twisted, often indescribable plots spouting absolutely insane dialogue.
Steckler like both those directors creates his own unique world. He is closer to Wood because of his sheer ineptness I suppose, but unlike Wood's movies his are tough going at times. Truly (unintentionally) hilarious sequences are repeatedly interspersed with some of the dullest and most pointless scenes you'll ever see. That makes his movies totally unlike anyone else's before or since. 'Incredibly Strange Creatures...' is arguably his most consistent effort, and even this one is dragged down by the endless musical numbers. Even so it is a movie that HAS to be watched at least once by any trash fiend or cult movie enthusiast. You really have to see it to believe it!
MONSTERS COME REAL! CRASH OUT OF SCREEN! INVADE AUDIENCE! ABDUCT GIRLS
FROM THEIR SEATS! Not 3-D. Don't Miss It!
I saw this at the drive-in when I was just a little kid. The film was made in 1964, but I must have seen it around +-1970. Anyway, the newspaper advertised just what the tag-line for the film implied -- that Monsters would go around to each car and abduct people! For me, this was an irresistible enticement, and so I begged to be taken to see it, and finally won out.
About midway thru the film, the Live Invasion began! ...well...the "abduction" consisted of drive-in employees walking around in regular street clothes, sporting cheap plastic dime-store masks (the kind with the elastic string that always breaks) of some indefinite "monster". They would stop in front of a car, murmur an uninspired "boo", then proceed to the next vehicle to repeat the sequence. Looking around, I noticed that like me, no movie-goers had been taken prisoner. *sigh*
Having said that, the movie is a great deal of fun. Its cheesy and over-the-top, and that makes it a winner to me. People who complain that its a bad movie are the same as the folks who enjoy pointing out that pro wrestling is fake. They just don't get it.
The movie stars one of my favorite actors, Ray Dennis Steckler (AKA "Cash Flagg". Imagine a cross between Nick Cage and Pee Wee Herman(!)
His other cinematic delights include Wild Guitar, The Horny Vampire, Rat Pfink a Boo Boo, The Thrill Killers, and The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters. Watch them. Learn them.
This is a fascinating artifact from another era of pop culture; From
the convoluted title (complete with "!!?" at the end) to the open mike
"Amateur Night" numbers to the horribly muddled sound recording to the
goofy throwaway dialog to the discombobulated ending to the paper-thin
plot, this one has to be seen to be believed.
You know the old saw about a movie being 'like a train wreck - you can't look away'?? Well, imagine if a school bus ran into the train wreck and a 727 crashed on top of it and then a herd of lemmings swarmed over the smoking remains on their way to go over a cliff. And then the Jolly Green Giant picked up everything and threw it over the mountain range and into the next state.
The movie piles one jarring, disorienting choice after another in rapid succession. First 'Jerry' rubs boogers out of his eyes on camera, then 'Harold' is jamming our ears with his Lithuanian/Chicano accent, and then 'Angela' throws off the composition of an entire scene with her Mile High Beehive of Hair, following which a bunch of 'dancers' perform bad choreography with all the precision of a dance recital for kindergarten girls, and then some dick-weed who can't carry a tune in a bucket sings the most insipid love song in the history of music while strumming a guitar that sounds like a ukulele. Then Elizabeth Taylor spins a pinwheel to make Jerry commit badly staged murder to cover up the fact that she threw acid in the face of a lumpy alcoholic, following which Jerry dreams that he got his face painted at a Renaissance festival and leaps about like a Thompson's Gazelle while a montage of women point and laugh at him. Then a mechanical wind-up monkey shrieks that we should "GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!! GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!!!" and a bunch of people who previously got acid thrown in their face and were drawn by the Rat Fink Hod Rod guy and have apparently been living on Angel Dust and Pop Tarts break loose and rampage through an Inuit/Swedish/African dance revue until the police come and shoot everyone, including Jerry who also had acid thrown in his face just before the titular 'zombies' got loose. Oh, and there's no moral, THE END.
I'm making the movie sound more coherent than it really is.
And yet, the whole mess is somehow entertaining and amusing, and I ended up being glad I saw it. If I were to meet Steckler (unlikely), I'd shake his hand and comment on how weird the movie was and ask him "WHAT THE HELL WAS HE THINKING?" when he made it.
MST's riffs on the movie are inspired and their version is worth getting hold of. But the movie stand on its own as a lunatic pinball of weirdness, careening randomly off the walls of our expectations of pop culture.
See it if you have a fondness for silly stuff. Otherwise, stay far, far away.
I admit I first saw this on MST3K, and in that venue it was almost brilliant - no skit on the original Saturday Nite Live ever topped it. The awful make-up, the comically inept sidekick (wild & crazy guys come to life!), the riotous night club dancers, the super-cheesy zombies...It's hard to believe this movie was so deliberately inept without having some other (admittedly pretty subtle) agenda of humor. And, as someone has pointed out, the cinematography is pretty damn good. Well, however it came about, it's still a very watchable movie. Hey, have you sat through Con Air or The Rock (both with a lead who looks a lot like Cash Flagg to me).
Incredibly Strange, yes..... but is it alive? No, it's got some good points
("hallucinogenic hypnovision", which is detailed in a preface not seen in
most U.S. video prints, turns out to involve ushers in monster masks, hardly
the doctor's prescription for a happy trip) but overall dull and slack and
looking exactly like five dollars. Still, it's a movie that shows
Steckler's love for film, even if this somhow doesn't make up for LENGTHY
semi-burlesque dance sequences and the absence of any real "zombies."
B-movie fans in the bay area have been treated over the last few years to Steckler's appearances at Will Viharo's "Thrillville Revue", and I'm happy to say that Steckler is a director who can sit in a theater and laugh at his movie with an audience (you just have to take my word for it that there are A LOT of directors who make bad films and take them VERY seriously... just listen to the director's commentary on the film "the Bone Yard" for an example). This is not his best effort (see "The Thrill Killers" for that), but it's pretty fun if you see it with popcorn and a bunch of drunk people. And heck, that's what movies are all about, isn't it?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became
Mixed-Up Zombies!!?" is most certainly a one-of-a-kind experience.
Madame Estrella(Brett O'Hara) doesn't like being ridiculed or
questioned by detractors. When an old drunk turns down her sexual
advances(!)she gets really angry and, trust me, you don't want to see
her(..or hear her squeaky voice)when she's angry. If you make Madame
Estrella mad, you not only get acid tossed in your face(..this turns
your face into silly putty)but a prison behind her purple curtains is
your brand new home. Almost always by her side is hideous hunchback,
Ortega(Don Russell)who assists her in disposing bodies and grabbing
innocents(..he even pops up in nightmares and hypnotic trances caused
by Estrella). A customer(..a boozing club dancer who has a rather
uninspired act with a male partner) desiring to know her future fate
finds Estrella's "xombie prison"(..I spelled zombie with an x because
of have no idea what these ugly fiends should be labeled)and is
targeted for execution. She'll find a dope in "I'll try anything
once"(..the world is my college)Jerry(Ray Dennis Steckler)who is
entranced with popular stripper Carmelita(Erina Enyo). Carmelita, in
league with Estrella, will trick him into coming backstage where he
will be hypnotized into killing those who threaten to expose her
prison. Estrella chose Jerry when he, pal Harold(Atlas King, with an
unbearably laughable accent), and girlfriend Angela(Sharon Walsh)wanted
to try out a "reader". I guess Jerry pushed that "no-no" button when he
poked fun at her magical crystal ball. Anyways, hoody-up and eyeballs
wide-open, Jerry, along with his incredibly shiny butcher knife, stabs
the singer and her dance partner(?!)in the face during their act on
stage. Haunted by one hell of a bizarre nightmare, Jerry awakens to a
blur wondering what happened the night before when he went backstage to
meet with Carmelita. Soon another dancer, who happens to oh so
eloquently mention she had seen the murdered girl meeting with her,
gets the knife(..along with a date, the barker who brings the
salivating males to dance shows)treatment. Soon, though, Estrella will
make on fatal mistake, keeping open the prison a little too long as the
xombies soon revolt, shredded clothes and hands that strangle. Soon
Jerry will get acid-faced, on the lam as blank-faced police,
guns-a-firing, give chase with Angela, her bro Madison(Pat Kirkwood) &
Harold is hot pursuit. The closing of the film features a VERY long run
across a rocky beach front as Jerry stumbles, falls, returns to his
feet, and repeats the clumsy cycle for our amusement, performed so
I'll admit that I found the carnival atmosphere particularly effective, it's all spontaneous and random, scenes where Jerry and friends are living it up. I realize that many will giggle at the lack of spirit or choreography for the MANY musical dance interludes which populate this bizarre 60's token of campiness, but I kind of figured it be this way in real life..this isn't The Chorus Line, you know. The transitions from scene to scene are jarring to say the least, and the sound is rather tepid. I had a great difficulty hearing what was being said half the time(..maybe that's a good thing?). I thought the nightmare sequence was a hoot, dancers with painted faces, images of Estrella and Ortega giving Jerry commands, and what seems like cigarette smoke steaming upward(..and the spinning spiral, a constant, returning Jerry to his homicidal ways). As MANY others have mentioned, this is far from a good movie and suffers from lack of real experience, but "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?" is such a strange experience I couldn't turn away, wondering what was gonna happen next. Lots of dead air and oddly structured camera shots of characters' faces. I must admit that I rather enjoyed some of the music sprinkled throughout and it was kind of neat getting a peek at certain parts of LA during such a cinematic era where independent filmmakers(..good and bad)were finding opportunities to make movies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This little, low-budget flick has a great deal of charm and is tons of fun to watch. This is not the so-called "so bad it's good" variety of film-making, like Plan 9 from Outer Space: it's not "bad" cinema, unless you're the kind of viewer who enjoys such middlebrow slop as Titanic and The English Patient. It's quirky, perverse, creative, and entertaining. Furthermore, the photography is excellent, which should come as no surprise: the cinematographer went on to write a classic instructional book on cinematography for film students. So if you're looking for something offbeat, and if John Sayles's films make you want to regurgitate all over the place, then place this one on your rental queue. Or better yet, buy it.
I can only echo the observations on how poor every aspect of the movie
is production-wise. However, if you're a fan of cult films like myself,
you'll enjoy watching this. (And the soundtrack is pretty darn
Ray Dennis Steckler stars in his own movie under his pseudonym "Cash Flagg".
The actors, lines, and scenes are forgettable.
However, you will not soon forget the movie itself.
I can bring myself to give this movie 8 stars for sheer historical/cult entertainment value.
Check it out if you have time.
I watched many movies in my teens, most of which I have no memory beyond a name or vague story plot. This movie, in addition to its title, created movie history in a lot of ways. I have to go to Rocky Horror to find an equivalent for several of these (combining horror, sf, comedy in a musical). I still remember the stark, anguished photography, the meaningless actions, the hopelessness so dark it could only be comedy. One review captured this, describing it as "lunar purity". I wasn't surprised to learn that one of the camera operators, Vilmos Zsigmond, went on to win an Academy Award for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Note that this review is written at least 40 years after I saw the film.
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