I Was a Teenage Zombie

What a great title! It’s an awesome 80’s throwback to the 50’s horror schlockfests that we all sort of love and hate. If you’ve ever watched goofball horror movies on a Saturday morning you’d probably get a big kick out of this movie.

I was a teenage zombieThe Poster
I’m not actually sure if this is the poster or the VHS cover but here it is. As covers go it’s pretty cheap. A single image with some text. The makeup on the character in the photo is pretty . . . well . . . it’s cheap. And his expression is pretty . . . well . . . it’s boring.

What the hell about this poster would ever make me want to actually rent it? Nada! That’s what. Fortunately I didn’t see this cover until after I started watching the movie. (Also because it has a massive spoiler right there.)

The Good
The Premise
Having lived in New York I know how NASTY the rivers are and you may know the sort of reputation they have in pop culture. In this case, they are so bad, so horribly polluted with radiation that the water manages to bring back a murderous drug dealer from the dead. In order to stop him a group of teenage guys drops their dead buddy into the river to bring him back as a “good” zombie to fight the “bad” zombie. These are the living dead but not the flesh-eaters variety. These are the murderous kind.

Let me take a step back and explain that this is a CHEAP horror comedy. It’s along the lines of Animal House and other similar comedies of the 80’s. If you ever liked anything by Troma you might like this. It’s the sort of thing that would have been HUGE if Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd,  Harold Ramis and all those guys had been teenagers when the movie was made and were cast in it.

The Setting:
What we have are a bunch of kids in a so-so movie with some pretty bad editing, incredibly cheap effects and goofy ass acting. The one thing I love about it is that it REALLY feels like the time it was produced. The places and people somehow remind me of people I remember from growing up and it feels genuine even when it’s so obviously staged. You can kind of feel after every take everyone just standing around laughing having fun.

The Music
The music really seemed too good to be true so I had to look this up and credit where credit is due. This comes from Wikipedia:

“The film’s title track was recorded by  The Fleshtones, and the subsequent video was given rotation on MTV. Other bands and artists appearing on the film’s soundtrack include: The Del FuegosThe dB’sDream Syndicate, the Violent FemmesThe WaitressesThe SmithereensLos LobosAlex Chilton and the Ben Vaughn Group. The original soundtrack record is out of print but used copies can be purchased online.”

That’s a pretty awesome line up of music for a movie of this scale. It goes a long way towards making me like it and helping make the “cheap” elements seem more fun. Like going to see your friend’s band or reading his zine. It’s cheap, fun, raw adventure.

The Bad
The acting is pretty subpar. As much as I like the guys in the movie, they aren’t winning any academy awards any time soon. The guy playing the evil drug dealer zombie is particularly bad. And although I love the way it’s bad, it’s still pretty horrible. It reminds me more of kids playing around on the schoolyard than real actors making a movie.

This really gets me in the fight scene at the end of the movie. Reactions, staging, everything is sooooooo badly done. It’s almost impossible to believe they were really making a movie and not just screwing around with a camera on them.

The Ugly
Seeing one kid get his face ripped off was in every way amazing. Even though it was clearly fake as hell it was still fun and it was one of the best effects of the movie particularly when compared to the straight green goblin makeup for the “zombies.”


Published by

Mike Kloran

Educational Designer from Brooklyn New York. I'm a teacher, an artist, an athlete and constantly doing, making, drawing, creating! It's a busy life but I'm doing what I love and that's what matters most to me!

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