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"I Was a Teenage Zombie" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 18

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"I Was a Teenage Zombie" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 18

Old 09-27-14, 06:04 PM
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"I Was a Teenage Zombie" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 18

I Was a Teenage Zombie (1987)

Selected by nezumi





These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.

Spoiler tags are unnecessary in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF SPOILERS.






Last edited by Chad; 10-08-14 at 08:00 PM.
Old 10-04-14, 12:41 PM
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Re: "I Was a Teenage Zombie" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 18

Epic theme song. From the start it seems like this will be a great movie - great indie vibe. I'm surprised there's no physical media release... and Janus / Criterion Collection have the rights to I Was a Teenage Zombie?

Old 10-18-14, 06:09 PM
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Re: "I Was a Teenage Zombie" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 18

Even though you have to wait til the 60-minute mark for the title of the movie to take over the plot, I *surprisingly* enjoyed this enough. Mussolini was one of the more memorable characters I've encountered in this marathon ("What are you? Some kind of macho kiss?") and, as pointed out above, best theme song of the month!
Old 10-19-14, 01:16 PM
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Re: "I Was a Teenage Zombie" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 18

Originally Posted by Undeadcow
I'm surprised there's no physical media release...
Well, there was this:

(From my personal collection.)

There was a DVD release from Image Entertainment back in 2000, but that has been long out of print. I would be happy with a MOD option at this point. My tape is beginning to show some signs of wear and tear.

I find that this movie makes a good test of one's tolerance of pop culture. If you can appreciate it, or even enjoy it, you pass. It's not a great movie by anyone's metric, but it's certainly difficult to forget. The actor who plays Mussolini is such an oddball. I'm still not sure how he managed to find a third syllable in the word "faces." Mussolini aside, the other thing that strikes me about the film is how it confounds the viewer's expectations. It occurred to me while watching a particularly bad zombie movie how so few of them are able to transcend the tropes of the zombie movie; and the few movies that do find ways to overcome those same tropes are quickly co-opted by lesser filmmakers in a cinematic form of cannibalism. Some might argue that I Was a Teenage Zombie isn't a "true" zombie movie, but I would contend that most zombie movies aren't true zombie movies if you consider the zombie's roots in Haitian folklore.

For years, I've been curious about the production of this film and done some cursory online research to see whatever became of the cast and crew. I always held this narrative in my mind of a group of friends who got together during a summer break from college and decided to make a horror film before going on to their adult lives and careers. In Dan's case, zombie-ism equates to adulthood. Being a zombie means having responsibilities and obligations. There's a wistfulness to the ending with his friends bidding farewell to their undead friend as he returns to the irradiated river with his sweetheart Cindy in tow.

The cast and crew may or may not have been buddies, but I Was a Teenage Zombie was undisputably a product of the '80s New York underground film scene. The director John Elias Michalkis had worked for Lloyd Kaufman as a sound editor on Toxic Avenger (Kaufman even gets a little shout-out in the film). Slime City director Greg Lamberson appears in the film, credited as the character, "Nerd" (he also apparently talks a little about his involvement with Zombie on the Slime City DVD, but I don't yet own it). The actor who plays Gordy, George Seminara, went on to direct videos for the Ramones and other NYC punk groups. Perhaps most surprisingly, the one actor whose career has had the greatest longevity is Allen Lewis Rickman, who plays Lieberman (the nerd who gets his own face fed to himself). He's very much still active, playing smaller roles in the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man, Fading Gigolo with John Turturro and Woody Allen, and the show Boardwalk Empire.

I didn't find much else in my superficial Googling of the cast and crew. Special effects artist Carl Sorensen worked on other films such as Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Child's Play and Tremors. For many of the actors, it seems as though it was "one and done." It was the only film John Elias Michalkis ever directed. Michalkis may have eventually become an Orthodox rabbi. I found some strange videos on Youtube about Michalkis and accusations of misconduct of some sort, but I can't say I watched them in their entirety. I would love if this film would get the "Special Edition" treatment by one the boutique labels with a comprehensive "Making Of" feature. Until then, I guess I'll hang on to my VHS tape and hope that it and my VCR can hold out for a little while longer.

Last edited by nezumi; 10-19-14 at 01:41 PM.
Old 10-21-14, 04:29 PM
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Re: "I Was a Teenage Zombie" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 18

^I remember that cover from the old video stores. Always meant to rent it but never did. Love the art. Wish the movie was as good as the art.

This was kinda like The Lords Of Flatbush meets a Troma film. The best part was the drug dealer zombie pulling the chick out of the car and instead of killing her, he bangs her...then he kills her. I gotta admit I wasn't expecting that. Had there been more unique moments like that, this movie might have been a home run. After that highpoint, it just kind of dissolves into a dull mess. It's like they wanted to ape Teen Wolf but just didn't have the talent nor the charm.

My rating: ** out of *****
Old 10-21-14, 05:49 PM
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Re: "I Was a Teenage Zombie" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 18

I've never actually seen the movie but I bought the soundtrack when it was released and liked it. I think I sold it on Amazon a while back but I still have the songs on ITunes and listen to it every now & then.

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