My Three Zombies

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It still kinda boggles my mind that zombies have been embraced by mainstream pop culture and have joined the ranks of Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster as beloved icons. When I was a kid, zombie movies were considered strictly for sickies. This one, made around the time of Dawn Of The Dead (’78) but not released ’til ’82 concerns two astronauts, Matthews (Larry Latham) and Newman (Director and co-writer Steve Barkett. The other writer was, of all people, Stanley “Chip” Livingston) who return to Earth after a long mission and discover that while they were out, World War III happened, and the dead walk the Earth. (Luckily they find a reel-to-reel tape of Dick Miller explaining what the hell’s going on). Cool premise, no? I settled in expecting a cross between a Romero picure, The Andromeda Strain, and an old Charlton comic by John Byrne that blew me away as a kid, Doomsday + 1. Well, turns out there’s only about 3 zombies. Even Incredibly Strange Creatures had more than that…and they looked more realistic. The real threat to the astronauts, the love interest (Andy Kaufman’s squeeze Lynne Margulies) and the towheaded little boy (Barkett’s son Chris) is a band of nasty outlaws led by Cutter (the inimitable Sid Haig). So it’s really more of a post-nuke Western…and once they get past the interminable talk and Barkett’s voiceovers, there is mucho gunplay. And one scene of outrageous gore. It was made on a shoestring, and a fraying shoestring at that, but the outer space opening has some decent FX by Harryhausen protégé Jim Danforth. They got to use Ted V Mikels’ castle since he was one of the producers. And you know me, I’m willing to sit through anything if it’s got a Forrest J. Ackerman cameo…

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