The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (sometimes “!!?” is appended to the title) is a 1964 American monster movie written and directed by Ray Dennis Steckler. Steckler also starred in the film, billed under the pseudonym “Cash Flagg”. Upon release, the film received negative reviews, and is regarded by some critics as being one of the worst movies ever made.
In the film, three friends visit a carnival and stumble onto a group of occultists and disfigured monsters. Produced on a $38,000 budget, much of it takes place at The Pike amusement park in Long Beach, California, which resembles Brooklyn’s Coney Island. The film was billed as the first “monster musical,” beating out The Horror of Party Beach by a mere month in release date.
At the time of release, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies was the second longest titled film in the horror genre (Roger Corman‘s The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent being the first.
This was not, however, the originally intended title of the film. As Steckler relates, the film was supposed to be titled The Incredibly Strange Creatures, or Why I Stopped Living and Became a Mixed-up Zombie, but was changed in response to Columbia Pictures‘ threat of a lawsuit over the name’s similarity to Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, which was under production at the same time. Steckler later joked that he could have made 5 movies for what they probably spent on lawyers.
The film was originally released by Fairway-International Pictures, Arch Hall, Sr.‘s studio, who put it on a lower half of a double bill with one of his own pictures. Dissatisfied, Steckler bought the distribution rights back from Hall, purchased the rights to the Coleman Francis picture that was also poked fun by MST3K, The Beast of Yucca Flats and roadshowed the picture across the U.S. In order to get repeat customers, Steckler re-titled the film numerous times, with titles such as The Incredibly Mixed-Up Zombie, Diabolical Dr. Voodoo and The Teenage Psycho Meets Bloody Mary.
Much of the movie was filmed in an old, long-empty Masonic temple in Glendale, California, owned by actor Rock Hudson. The nine-story building was a series of makeshift “sound stages” stacked floor after floor, some big enough to create the midway scenes indoors. This was the studio that was used that year for production of The Creeping Terror, another low-quality monster movie also spoofed by MST3K. The Film Center Studios were popular with non-union producers, because they could turn off the elevator to lock out IATSE union agents, who found it difficult to climb the stairs to the seventh floor main stage.
During the filming of the movie, Steckler was in terrible need of funds, both for the movie and for rent, food and basic needs. Atlas King, who had grown close to Steckler, gave him three hundred dollars out of his own pocket. The station wagon Jerry drives in this movie was the Steckler family car!
Ever since its release, many critics have cited it as the worst film ever made.
However, the film has since become a cult classic and has been celebrated by fans of B movies, camp or kitsch films. Writing for Turner Classic Movies, critic Richard Harland Smith described the film as “junk drawer cinema at its most impossible to close” and “loose-knit to the point of unraveling,” but opined that “it’s precisely this threadbare, developed-in-the-bathroom-sink aesthetic that explains the film’s confounding charm” and that the film is “considerably better than its reputation.
color, widescreen, mono, 80 minutes. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!