?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
02 April 2013 @ 12:02 am
Movie Review: B-horror, "Teenage Zombies"  
splash


Teenage Zombies
(1959)

Starring: Don Sullivan, Steve Conte, Katherine Victor [actually it stars no one -- everyone is giving a "with" credit]
DIR: Jerry Warren

Blurb: A crazed female scientist uses nerve gas to turn local teenagers into her unquestioning zombies.

My Blurb: This is from the "A Big Box of Zombies" collection. Please check out this cover:

box_zombies

And now, please promptly forget you saw this cover. There will be nothing at all remotely this cool in our collection. We'll have spoilers, of course.



Scene 01: We open on a shot of a diner.


Scene 02: Inside, a soda-jerk is busy messing around. He delivers two milkshakes to a table with teens directly from the earlier 1950's. There is a second guy to the party, but he doesn't order anything because somebody-somebody is going to be meeting him in a few minutes, so he can't stay.

We spend some time with our teen-wonders discussing mundane plans for later today.

Reg and his girlfriend are planning to go waterskiing on the boat that Reg has been working on all week. Second Guy and his girlfriend Dottie are going to go horseback riding, but there are plans to meet that evening to figure out something to do.

As Second Guy gets ready to leave he's mildly harrassed in a jokey way by Third Guy. This new guy joins Reg and Girlfriend. Third Guy mentions that his girlfriend, Pam, is going to be bringing lunch for them on their boating excursion. He also mentions that they have plans for Reg and party to visit an island, that he assures us Pam says is "a gas", which in the temporal parlance is a good thing. I believe that Third Guy is Skip.

That would make Second Guy, Morrie.

So our guys: Reg (boat restorer/owner), Older-Looking Skip and Younger Looking Morrie

Our Girls: Pam (Skip's girl), Dottie (Morrie's girl) and through a process of elimination in the cast list, Reg's girl must be Julie.

There is some argument whether this mysterious island, far out where it is too choppy to waterski, actually exists. Skip insists that it does and if Reg will take them all out there and the island doesn't exist, he'll buy two new carborators for Reg's boat as penance. Julie wants to explore this mysterious island, and that's all that Reg needs to agree.


Scene 03: We cut to a shot of an abandoned motor boat just offshore. On the beach is Reg, Skip, Pam and Julie. Skip explicates how awesome it'll make as a beach party hangout now that its existence isn't in doubt any longer.

[Somehow, they also managed to reach shore through the water without getting wet -- or they've been laying out in the sun for hours before we got here.]

After lounging along the shoreline for a bit, they all get up to explore their new playground.


Commentary: And, yes, you've seen that right. We're going into scene 04 and I haven't found one image I want to bother screen capping. I'm going to have to grab one from our next scene, no matter how dull.


Scene 04: They come across a giant Jungle-Jim looking dome (actually it looks like it may have one time been an aviary or greenhouse? I don't know and we quickly move on).

sc_04

Our gang stops to exclaim their (misplaced) amazement. (And then realize it isn't of any interest, because as mentioned we move on without even watching them check it out -- nice direction, there.)


Scene 05: Our foursome wander, wander. Suddenly, Julie exclaims to Reg to look at something. It turns out to be a house. Amazing.

Nearby, we see another group trekking along a dirt road. Our dull Scooby Gang stare at this new group of people with Pam muttering something. We take note that the new group seems to include a lot of shambler-gaited people.

Skip says that they look "like they're doped, or dead or something".


Commentary: I'm sorry -- WHAT?!? Are dead people regularly, if harmlessly, shambling around in this universe? They looked doped - OR DEAD??


Into view comes a woman, inappropriately glamorously dressed overseeing her line of stumbling people. This new woman spots our interlopers and gives them a point, apparently ordering the zombified people to pursue. I guess.

Our foursome make a dash back toward the beach.


Scene 06: Back at the beach, they find the boat missing. A plan is made to circle around the shore until they find it. This is all to tense music to assure us we're excited.


Scene 07: Wander, wander, look in inappropriate directions as if the boat is hiding behind a mound of knee height grass, wander wander.

The music continues trying to prompt us to be afraid and excited over our foursome's circumstances. They wander. Wander. Wander.


Scene 08: Finally they collapse on the beach again, apparently having circled the small island to no avail. Reg decides they'll have to sneak inward again to see if the boat's been tied up away from shore. Pam refuses - she's exhausted. She tells the boys that she and Julie will remain there.


Scene 09: In the meantime, we see a hunchback stumble through shrubbery.


Scene 10: Back on the beach, under the watchful eye of Hunchback-Spy, Skip and Reg trek off.

sc_10


Scene 11: Reg and Skip then go back to the mysterious house belonging to the woman and shambling-gaited weirdos they ran away from and... knock on the door.

They meet Glamourously Dressed For Stroll Through Fields Woman, who invites them in when they tell her they couldn't find their boat.


Scene 12: There is some uncomfortable attempts at hospitality (along with some appalling microphone work) as Dr. Myra questions them about their missing boat. The boys ask Dr. Myra if she took the boat, but she insists she hasn't and hasn't been away from the house all day.

The boys argue that somebody had to take their boat and despite Dr. Myra insisting she's the one in charge on the island, goes on insisting she didn't take their boat. She also shares that she and her staff don't have boats of their own, either, since no one ever leaves the island.

The circular argument over their missing boat and Dr. Myra's claims of ignorance with bad miking goes on and on.


Commentary: And, I take a long break....


When I get back, the boys are fed up with Dr. Myra pretending she doesn't have their boat. They tell her that they're going to go off and see the Sheriff... somehow... someplace... in the middle of the ocean with no boat. She's not all that threatened, although she does tell them they're very courageous with a hint of sarcasm.

Our boys suddenly hear the sounds of screams from somewhere deeper in the house. Skip recognizes the screams as coming from Julie and Pam and Reg wants to know what the girls are doing there (of course, both of them are reciting their lines like a bunch of clueless dullards and Dr. Myra is practically oozing "bad guy" slime on them so this is all coming across as ruthlessly badly acted).

Dr. Myra pretends she doesn't know anything about that either and goes off to "find out for you". She walks across the room to call over the intercom to Ivan (our hunchback).


Scene 13: To her summons, Ivan lumbers to the intercom... in real time... and looking like he may be a zombie too, if one were to go strictly by his gait and vacant expression.

He doesn't speak, but is able to communicate to her question by keying the intercom a few times. Dr. Myra's voice tells him that's fine and that she is bringing the boys down to see them. A pan shows Julie and Pam stuck in a cage.


Scene 14: Doctor Myra returns to the boys and tells them the girls are downstairs; she leads them to see their girlfriends.


Scene 15: We follow them mosey along... in real time... to the basement prison. Unshockingly to everyone not in the movie, the boys are quickly snatched up by Ivan from behind and shoved into a cell next to the girls, before they can react.

sc_15

Doctor Myra asks for excusing of Ivan's manners. With the interlopers restrained, the doctor lets them know that yes, she does have their boat and that they are prisoners [which was important, because our heroes are pretty thick so may not have realized it yet] and will be helping her in some very important work.

We get the usual mad-science speech that doesn't tell us what exactly she's doing out here. The usual "we'll be missed and our friends will find us" bit and the "let us go, we won't tell anyone" stuff.

Naturally, all of this is waived aside by the mad doctor. She assures them though that if they don't make trouble, they'll not be hurt.


Scene 16: Meanwhile, back at the diner they're having earth trem--... oh, wait, no that's just the shaky camera work.

Within, Morrie comes looking to ask the soda-jerk about Reg and Skip as they never showed to pick up he and Dot. Obvs, they haven't been seen.

They exchange some more dialog and the soda-jerk finally suggests the Sheriff, especially since soda-jerk has heard that the waters offshore can get a bit treacherous unexpectedly. Soda-jerk gets one of his employees to drive out to the sheriff's with Morrie and the soon-to-be-picked-up Dottie.


Scene 17: Morrie and Dot are taken to an extremely threadbare Sheriff's Office and are understandably reluctant to seek help there. To Dot's shove, Morrie finally asks the desk sargeant for assistance. Morrie is completely useless in saying, "Our friends went boating and haven't returned and we're worried", leaving Dottie to take over.

[I'm hoping Dot will also take over being our hero, because the others in the movie are incompetent.]

The Sheriff is summoned... in real time... from the back office. He promises a search, but warns them that without a definite area where the friends were expected to be, it could be nearly impossible to track them down. There is angst.


Scene 18: Out on the water, we get extended shots of Sargent and Sheriff plying the coastal waters looking for signs of wreckage, or a disabled boat. (With no steadicam, these shots are mildly disorienting.) Previous dialog suggests that another party was searching throughout the night and the Sheriff and Deputy took over in the morning, meaning the kids have been missing all night.

Our lawmen return to the dock where Dot and Morrie await news (but nobody's parents, because why would any of them need to know).


Scene 19: The Sheriff has to report to Morrie and Dot that they have no news to share. With this, Morrie decides to borrow a boat from the docks and go out on his own to search with Dottie for their missing friends.


Scene 20: More slow boating footage.

And more. And, a bit more. And, some more.

Finally, Morrie and Dot reach the mysterious island that no one knows about, but is apparently quite easy to run across. They shore the boat.


Scene 21: They explore. Morrie could've sworn he could see someone walking as he was pulling the boat up toward the beach. At first Dot believes he must have been mistaken, but then they see Ivan wandering around that abandoned aviary/jungle-jim structure. They follow.


Scene 22: Which leads back to Doctor Myra's house/lab combo.

Morrie hesitantly knocks. Doctor Myra welcomes them, decked out in a swanky party gown. Morrie asks after Ivan, so that he can ask about his missing friends. The doctor assures them that Ivan isn't there, didn't see strangers, and that they were both inside all day yesterday.

Morrie and Dot leave... and are allowed to, apparently - as they make it back to the beach and their awaiting boat. They push off... in real time.


Scene 23: As they get ready to power up the boat motor and take off, they're passed by two mysterious men in suits going to the island... this after Doctor Myra had insisted that no one ever comes out to the island (and at least offer an explanation as to why she is in a cocktail gown).

The men exchange shifty glances at them, but pass by without exchanging words.


Scene 24: Back at the doctor's, she serves up drinks to her visitors. One of our men is testy at there being snoopers around, but Doctor Myra points out that they're of no concern, as they were only kids looking for some friends. And besides, the risks he talks about are all ones she is taking by remaining at the island lab.

We learn that the two men are middlemen of "The East" and that Doctor Myra has been researching mind control for them. They're getting impatient with getting working "capsules" and want them within the next six weeks or they're threatening to cut off funding and explore other options to get over on us.

Doctor Myra suggests and the men confirm that "The East" is thinking the hydrogen bomb. She's incensed by this for the waste of land and resources it would cause by the radioactive contamination. But the men point out that they're not in charge of these decisions. They press her on speeding up her work enough to complete it within the deadline.


Scene 25: She leads them back to her lab, where she shows them the capsule research and goes through the problems that she's run into with making the subjects compliant using them.

She shows them two subjects that she exposed to the same formula -- one has become a will-less lump of useless. The other, filled with a rage (that he nevertheless doesn't do anything with except make vague clawing gestures toward the one way mirror in the room -- he doesn't even bother to attack the sedate man next to him -- some rage virus).

The men point to Ivan as what they're looking for, and she does agree he'd be the perfect example of what they're going for, but thus far she hasn't been able to track why he's responded so nicely to the mind control formula when no one else has. She worries that there won't be enough time to crack that nut before their impatient superiors decide to skip subletly and go straight for big bombing of the U.S.

sc_25

But, she's willing to press into more dangerous territory if the time constraints demand it. There is also the problem of distribution across a wide enough population to cripple the U.S. before they can respond. For this, she's come up with a completely different paralyzing agent that could be introduced as a gas from the air and that would infect the water systems.

The problem with this gas, is that it could be easily countered if everyone isn't exposed quickly enough, and if she makes it any more powerful it could cause wide spread death, rather than the work slaves that their Superiors demand.

sc_25a

They request a demonstration anyway. Doctor Myra exposes a man-in-gorilla-suit to the 'paralyzing agent' and despite starting out as riled up, he quickly calms and becomes compliant. She summons Ivan to take the beast and ready him for tests before he's destroyed.

Ivan enters the gas-filled chamber to retrieve the test subject and take him to the basement holding pens... in real time... as Doctor Myra and her guests awkwardly wait and wait for this to occur, so they can move on... in real time.


Commentary: Clearly, pacing is going to be an issue to be noted in the Scoring Section. I'd also like to point out that the story elements are all there to make this a cold war/mad science picture, but Jerry's direction is so leisurely paced that what should be exciting just sits there. In real time.

It's disappointing. I can see why IMDB currently has this as 2.5 scoring. I do like Katherine Victor's work. I just wish that she had more to do but stand around and talk.

As it is though, I need another break.



Scene 26: After Ivan and Ape get out of the way, Dr. Myra's guests inform her that the time table is so critical because they were "betrayed" by their South American contact, Felix. It turns out that Felix was the Argentinian contact that helped the doctor get a passport into the country. It was supposed to be a fake, but Felix was actually an American agent (which is why betrayed is in quotes -- seems to me you were played, not betrayed) and that he's now dead, but they don't know if he managed to get word to his superiors about the entire operation.

(Well... one would think, yes. One would further think that as soon as she'd been given the "fake" passport, that was actually real so she wouldn't have problems at customs, she'd be under observation if they weren't busting her. One would think. If one were trying to make sense.)

With this new information, the doctor is willing to rush her testing to the human phase while they still have time. The enemy agents agree, and offer to stay for security while she completes her work.


Scene 27: Meanwhile, at some government security agency or another, Colonel C.J. Adams gets a visitor. The arrival is Major Coleman.

The Major has delivered the papers found in Agent Felix's belongings, as they've found his body. But he also reports that what they'd located doesn't appear very useful.

The Major gives the Colonel some details about Felix/Felis' (he used two names) mission, including the fact that he wasn't to contact any fellow agents because of the importance of his mission, meaning he couldn't go for help when he ran into trouble. But, they did find a single photograph of a woman and local law enforcement has already been wired to be on the look out for her for questioning.


Commentary: Which... sigh... still doesn't make a lick of sense. His mission was so critical that he gave the enemy scientist a valid passport into the country without informing anyone (including his handler/superior) so that she could go ahead and set up her super-secret lab somewhere in the vastness of the United States and continue her sponsor's evil plot against America??

I mean, was he on her tail when he was intercepted? Because that at least would make some sort of sense, except no one says that. They just stumbled across the fact that he was a U.S. agent and killed him after he was involved in a sting against Dr. Myra -- while not actually making sure she could be intercepted/observed once she hit the U.S.

This is dumb.



With this ill-thought out sting having gone pear-shaped, the Major plans to dispatch additional troops to California hitting every air base in the state with agents on the look out for our evil doctor. Then, they'll move along the coast to Oregon and Washington and then they'll do the same eastward state by state.


Commentary: And should be done by 1964 -- or when we're all already zombies. This is dumb. Script Review & Revision? What's that?


With the Colonel agreeing to supply helicoptors for aerial surveying, the Major pushes his luck to ask for every available plane from the Air Force as well. The Colonel mentions that's a tall order, but the Major is in a tizzy [as well he should be -- his stupendously stupid operation is the cause of our difficulties]. The Major insists that the gas of the bad guys cannot be allowed to be released or their looking at a projected 80% loss of the population to zombie-dom.


Commentary: Which is why Doctor Myra was allowed... y'know... nevermind. It's supremely dumb and now we're all screwed. Thanks Top Notch Government Agency!


Scene 28: Back in the basement cells, Skip has picked the lock on his and Reg's cage. They try to break their girlfriends out, but Reg can't pick the lock, as it is more difficult... apparently.


Commentary: Yes, we did just see Skip pick a fucking lock. No, there is no explanation for why he didn't just take the pick to the girl's lock, since he obviously knows what he's doing. Especially as soon as Reg admits that he can't get it. And why can't Julie grasp a little concept called 'whispering' rather than braying at Reg. Honestly, I'm not sure why the enemy nation (U.S.S.R. given the time period) is trying so hard. This version of America is filled with people who are already halfway to zombie-stupid, already.


With Reg unable to get the lock undone, the boys have to retreat back to their own cage as Ivan is coming into the room with food trays.


Commentary: And I must conclude that Skip is an alien, a mutant or a cyborg. How else could he have determined that Ivan was silently approaching a closed door? I couldn't tell if he had super hearing, X-ray vision, or some sort of Alien-esque motion detector powers but he's definitely not baseline human.


Ivan leers at Julie, freaking her out, while Pam just keeps her own gaze averted from the 'horror' of him. He completely ignores our boys' call to him.

Once Ivan exits, Reg and Skip let themselves back out. That still leaves the prospect of the girls' stubborn lock. Reg and Skip decide that even if they could free the girls, they'd make too much noise doing it and even if they could still escape, they're not getting off the island without knowing where their boat is stashed.

The decision is made, to Julie's frustration, that the boys will have to continue to pretend to be locked up until nightfall. They'll scan the island after dark to find their means of escape, then come back and deal with the second lock so that they'll all have a place to retreat to once the girls are free [And now both Julie and Reg have to continually be reminded by Skip to keep their g'damned voices down].

Neither Pam nor Julie are wild about this plan, but they finally and reluctantly agree it's the only way.


Scene 29: Much later, the boys decide it must be dark by then and leave their cell. They slip out into the night.


Scene 30: Later, they're scanning the beach again looking for their boat. In the distance of this hidden, secret island is a ... huge-ass 'nother island! So much for being tucked away.


Commentary: Also, the boys were supposed to be back by first light so they wouldn't be discovered missing - but we're in daylight now. Is this day for night? Because it is so not even close to 'moonlight'.


The boys search and search the shoreside [which yes, they already did way back before their capture]... in near real time. And, hello big honking island just across the bay from this secret, secluded isle that barely anyone knows about.

After (much too long), the boys sit down by the shore having been unsuccessful in their second search of the beach. Skip laments that the sun is nearly up [LOOK - If you can't film at night, then don't write your script requiring a night time shoot! Especially, if you can't at least afford a filter!].

The boys decide to abandon their boat search and turn to building a raft from detritus around the beach. Though there isn't enough time to do so, they decide they'll at least get a start on putting it together to be completed that night. They find boards and [conveniently unrotted] rope and begin their makeshift raft prep. This is quickly tucked into the bushes and hidden for later as the sun is coming up and they have to get back to their cage before they're discovered.


Scene 31: The boys make it back to the house. They slip in and down the stairs to the basement (in real time) where Julie and Pam are anxiously awaiting. Despite their cages abutting one another, the boys feel the need to risk being caught by standing outside of their cell to update them, instead of getting into their own cell and whispering to them side by side. And, Julie again talks way too loud.


Scene 32: Later that morning (with shaky-cam), we revisit the diner. Morrie is there using a payphone to call the Sheriff's office.


Scene 33: Across town, deputy Johnson answers the phone. Morrie informs the deputy that he and Dot were out in the boat and found something strange and believe they know where their missing friends are... we've also skipped back in time, because Morrie states this happened 'today', even though an entire night has passed since he and Dot returned from speaking with Doctor Myra.

Deputy Johnson directs Morrie to the Sheriff's home since he isn't in the office.


Commentary: *sigh* So, instead of just calling back the operator and asking for the Sheriff's house or instead of the Deputy calling the Sheriff and asking him to meet Morrie at the diner, Morrie has to find a ride and go to the Sheriff's house. *roll eyes -- c'mon, this isn't even a difficult script quandary that we have to glide over -- there is no reason for Morrie to have to go to the Sheriff's home*


Scene 34: Morrie, with Dot, pulls whoever's car into the Sheriff's driveway (and yes, we have to watch him drive slowly up to the house in real time).

They get out of the car and walk up to the Sheriff's front door (real time!). Morrie and Dot excitedly tell the Sheriff about the 'strange' island 30 to 40 miles east (In that little dingy they were traveling in?! Not likely!) where they believe their friends ended up. The Sheriff recognizes the place, but informs the kids that no one has lived on Mullet Island in 50 years or so. But, he's intrigued by the kids' report that a woman was definitely living there these days.

Dot tries to convince the Sheriff that Doctor Myra was lying to them when she reported that she hadn't seen their friends, but she can't articulate as to why she's so sure. The Sheriff rightly points out that just because a person chooses to live an isolated life, doesn't mean that they're being nefarious. [He doesn't mention how the hell all of these tiny row boats, even with a motor, is traveling 60 miles round trip for all of this investigating.]

The Sheriff tries to put them off, but Morrie brings up Doctor Myra's claims that no one ever came out to the island only for them to have passed the two men in the boat while they were leaving. The Sheriff remains skeptical and seems to be concluding that the foursome probably sank and drowned.


Commentary: Hilariously, due to the continuity error, the kids insist that they rushed right over putting this happening in the late afternoon following their excursion to find the foursome. Which of course, is just more obvious evidence of the backward time traveling they've done since we already know that a whole night has passed. Between the time distortion around the island and Skip's super-senses, the continuity errors are actually making the movie far more interesting than what was actually filmed!


The Sheriff finally promises to take a boat trip out to Mullet Island, just to look around a bit.


Scene 35: Back at Mullet Island (and presumably in the actual present, rather than in the backward time-skip that the mainland is in) Doctor Myra is working with her chemistry set. The two enemy agents are in attendance. There is more discussion of the hows to the gas distribution once her formula is set.

Apparently (and this is all directly from the dialog), Doctor Myra's gas is going to be made into hard pellets that involve bacteria of some sort. Once the pellets are dropped into a body of water, it releases the gas through the bacteria which infects the water column creating mindlessly obedient servants of anyone who drinks it.

She summons Ivan and tells him she's ready for the two girls to proceed with her human trial (rather than say one of them, in case she instantly kills her).


Scene 36: Ivan trumbles through the kitchen and down the basement stairs (real time!) to the cage room. He drags the pleading girls away (who being in the late 50's are forbidden from actually fighting for their lives) while the boys yell at him ineffectively to leave them alone (but who don't rush him from their unlocked cage).

sc_36


Scene 37: With the girls dragged away down a corridor, the boys now decide to slip out of their cage and tiptoe (nearly literally) after him.

Pam and Julie are shoved, with the weakest of resistance, into the gas-room. The boys (literally Scooby-Doo Tip-Toeing) follow and crouch down in the same corridor. As Skip and Reg lament that the girls are probably going to be killed in front of them... well... that's it really. They lament.


Scene 38: But out on the water, the Sheriff is pulling up to the beach. Morrie and Dot (but not any other policemen) are accompanying.

They trek along the familiar path to the doctor's *cough*secluded*cough* home (In near realtime, 'natch).


Scene 39: In the lab, Doctor Myra is juuuust about to subject Julie and Pam to the gas when Sheriff, Dot and Morrie (actually) stumble in. Somehow, the doctor recognizes the Sheriff right off, despite a complete lack of uniform, badge, or his identifying himself.

Agent Guy insists he knew all along there was going to be trouble, but Doctor Myra smoothly asks to what she owes the honor. In the background Pam and Julie try to yell for help, but the room is soundproofed (although in normalverse, they'd still be impossible not to notice immediately). For some reason Enemy Agents don't immediately draw their guns and blow the intruders away, grab the gas and Doctor Myra and make a hasty retreat to poison America another day.

Dot notices the frantic gesturing of Pam and Julie and points out that they were right and their friends are prisoners. Doctor Myra insists on calling them guests. She uses Ivan to grab Dot and Morrie, while the Sheriff stands there impotently -- without a gun himself, apparently.

Well -- There is a logical explanation for everything (for a change), as the doctor informs the kids that the Sheriff won't be helping them. It turns out that he's in on it! He complains to Dr. Myra that their deal was for some test subjects, but that she's now gone too far by kidnapping kids that have families. He tells her that the disappearances have drawn attention and he can't control or suppress things anymore.


Commentary: Needless to say, we've seen no indication that anyone outside of Dot and Morrie are the least bit interested in the kids not coming home. Which could be related to the backward time-differential between mainland time and Mullet Island time -- if only it was meant rather than just clumsy and inattentive film making. Oh, the interesting details that were utterly unacknowledged mistakes!


Anyway, Enemy Agents insist they just need a little more time while Skip and Reg are overhearing everything. Skip and Reg, for their part, plot a save.


Scene 40: Skip wanders away to find pipe, or pieces of wood to use as clubs...


Commentary: ...and the soundtrack has the nerve to treat this as "tense" and "exciting", while I treat it as "no" and "it's not".


Scene 41: Back with our assembled bad guys and victims, Enemy Agent in Charge tries to calm the Sheriff that there is no need to panic, yet. He and the doctor exchange barbs about how he's a big whiner and you don't see her complaining about every problem she's run into. Sheriff gets on his hurt-fee-fees high horse and says, rather stupidly for his vulnerable position, that maybe they should just replace him then.

Which they do... with Enemy Agent in Charge's pistol. Bye, Idiot Stooge (bloodlessly).

Ivan is ordered to take Sheriff Deaden Weight out, while Doctor Myra then orders her two agents to hold Dot and Morrie to serve as the second set of test subjects when she's done with Pam and Julie.


Scene 42: Meanwhile, Skip returns to where Reg remains crouched down in the hallway. He apparently couldn't find so much as a hanger for a weapon (C'mon - Even Cordelia Chase was able to once grab a spatula). But after the Sheriff's shooting, Reg tells him there isn't any more time to wait. Skip rushes to the soundproof room holding the girls to let them out.

It's locked, of course.

Reg joins him, and though they attempt to be quiet, Enemy Agent in Charge hears them. As he rounds the corner, Reg and Skip attack - with Reg wrestling with the Agent, while Skip grabs Doctor Myra. Reg is able to force Enemy Agent's gun from his hand and knocks him to the floor where they start wrestling.

sc_42

Meanwhile, Other Enemy Agent (who still doesn't get a gun?) is distracted by the goings-on, allowing Morrie to jump on his back and awkwardly knock him to the floor as well. Skip joins him to control Second Enemy Agent. Dot -- after a moment's hesitation -- takes over wrestling with Doctor Myra.

Since all Agents are trained in deadly hand-to-hand combat, the boys are nearly immediately overpowered and... no, no wait.

Over in his fight, Reg has the upper hand on Enemy Agent in Charge and is straddling/punching him.

Skip delivers some kidney punches to Other Enemy Agent, while Morrie wrestles to pin the guy's arms down.

Dot tries to pin Doctor Myra to the floor of the lab area (and semi-effectively -- our two women are the only ones acted as if they really are fighting for their lives, even if they can't really get down and dirty and have to wrestle "like girls").

Unfortunately for Pam and Julie, Doctor Myra is able to reach the control button on her lab desktop and release the zombie poison into the holding room.

Reg and Enemy Agent in Charge continue rolling around on the floor. Skip and Morrie are having better luck with Other Enemy Agent and have him nearly helplessly pinned. Well -- for a quick minute, before they lose control again and go back to goofily wrestling around. Morrie stretches for a dropped gun that was lost on the complete other side of the room, but somehow migrated over -- or it's Other Enemy Agent's, from whose suit coat it dropped during the wrestling match (I don't care, it's equally stupid for it to be there).

Meanwhile, back with Reg -- he's starting to lose, with Enemy Agent in Charge beginning to strangle him. But, rather than crushing the boy's windpipe, he gets wrestled back over onto his back and Reg ends up delivering some fisticuffs that has him down for the count.

Somehow, Doctor Myra and Dot have managed to wrestle themselves onto the opposite side of the lab, without disturbing a single beaker. Thank goodness that Dottie respects science as much as Doctor Myra! Dot seems to be giving better than she's getting, and is choking the scientist out.

Meanwhile, Other Enemy Agent still isn't pinned down despite being piled two-on-one by Skip and Morrie.

sc_42a

Reg reaches out and grabs Enemy Agent in Charge's gun and orders him to his feet. In the background, Other Enemy Agent's gun is also being retrieved by Morrie (So, why didn't Other Enemy ever draw the gun during the drama of minutes before? No wonder he's not Agent in Charge, despite looking older).


Scene 43: With our protagonists in the driver's seat, Dot screeches they need to get the other girls out, but Reg complains they can't open the door. Then he stands there awkwardly in confusion over what to do before the lightbulb dimly goes on and he realizes that Doctor Myra must have a key.

Pam and Julie are pulled from the room, but they're dazed and blank-faced. Skip exclaims that their minds are blank like the rest (referencing that line of shamblers from the beginning, whose presences totally disappeared without explanation -- presumably, Ivan was marching them off to eliminate them in a conveniently pre-prepared pit).

Reg threatens to shoot the doctor if she doesn't make an antidote for Pam and Julie's condition. The doctor insists she doesn't have an antidote, and even if she did, she'd rather be shot than to cooperate. Reg looks like he's ready to follow through, but Skip interrupts to remind him that the gas makes people completely will-free and to do what they're told....

Doctor Myra is hauled into the gas room. The boys spend precious (running time adding) time looking for how to release said gas. As both boys with the guns are distracted from holding them on our Enemy Agents, they strike out with precision speed... uh, no... they cooperatively stand there, instead. My mistake.

Our doctor is gassed. Meanwhile, Morrie is left alone to guard the prisoners for several precious seconds with his attention entirely focused away from the Enemy Agents. Other Enemy Agent makes his move -- clumsily, and Morrie immediately points the gun at him and ends that rebellion.


Scene 44: The scientist is marched back to the lab table, gonked out. Skip starts shaking her around and demanding "you know what we want, something to help the girls!" while she stands there, completely helpless.

sc_44

Reg takes charge. He tells Enemy Agents that they're going to tell them how to get through to Doctor Myra or get shot. Other Enemy Agent tells them they can't help. Skip decides to put one of the Agents into the booth next to make one of them more compliant as well. Reg shrugs with a why not, and chooses Enemy Agent in Charge. Rather than get will-sucked, Enemy Agent in Charge tells them that he thinks a certain liquid from the shelf might be the antidote that Doctor Myra mentioned as the counter agent, once.

Reg complains it could be poison for all they know, so Skip tells him to use it on the doctor and see what happens to her.


Scene 45: Just as Doctor Myra is showing signs that the liquid dosing is doing something, Ivan returns from his task. This distracts the boys enough for Doctor Myra to struggle with grabbing the beaker of antidote and throwing it to the floor (she's obviously a much more dedicated enemy agent than the two men). But, Skip had poured two cups and he takes the second one with the girls away from the brawl now breaking out between the bad guys, Reg and Morrie.

[And Pam is running like somebody under zombie-gas, while Julie is running just fine - thank you very much.]


Scene 46: In the cage room, Skip gives the antidote liquid to Pam and Julie.


Scene 47: Meanwhile, in the lab, there is fist fighting between Morrie, Reg and the two enemy agents. Doctor Myra is obviously still not quite with us yet and Ivan is awaiting instructions.

The boys are able to make a run for it, with Other Enemy Agent and Ivan following (why Ivan is suddenly deciding to capture them without explicit instructions is a mystery). Meanwhile, Enemy Agent in Charge helps the doctor to her feet. These two take off to get to the police launch before the teens can get to it.


Scene 48: Elsewhere in the basement, that "obviously man in a suit"-Gorilla that was a test subject? He's suddenly and inexplicably loose. He shuffles into the lab, where he is boring. He then wanders over to that spot on the floor where the antidote ended up. He fingers it and then licks his fingers -- which is apparently all it will take to free him from his ... docile-ness, I guess - presumably.


Scene 49: In the cage room, the girls and Skip hear the animal grunting. As they proceed to investigate, they come across Other Enemy Agent wrestling again with Morrie and Reg, who he apparently caught up with... without his dropped gun. Skip tries to intercede after sending the girls back, but gets punched away.

But, this fight is interrupted with the sudden appearance of the re-pissed Killer Gorilla. The boys are able to slip out from a Gorilla Hug, but Other Enemy Agent is left trapped in a corner to be mauled.

Our Gang runs. (Where did Ivan vanish to??)


Scene 50: At the beach front, Enemy Agent in Charge and Doctor Myra make it to the police boat.


Scene 51: Back with the kids, they run from the house and follow that well-worn path we know so well by now. Mad Dash, slight unscripted trip on uneven ground, Mad Dash, Mad Dash (with Jay Hawk as Morrie doing the most spastic run a man can do). Over the hill with the abandoned aviary, run - run - run.


Scene 52: Somehow, despite the extreme head start of our enemies, they still haven't been able to start up the boat (apparently hot wiring is another secret agent skill that wasn't passed along to Enemy Agent in Charge). Battle is again joined with Reg beating up Enemy Agent in Charge -- AGAIN and Skip taking on the wildcat, Doctor Myra.

The kids pile into the boat, subduing any further trouble with numbers. [Ivan? Hello?! IVAN?!]


Scene 53: Later, back on the mainland: Deputy is on the radio with a patrol car who informs him that they've picked up Major Coleman and are on their way in.

Our Scooby Gang of Enemy Agent Busters are all self-congratulatory. There is some filler dialog by Deputy that a department investigation will be coming into the Sheriff's activities. Another mention is made of the opening line of shamblers, which everyone assumes is still alive somewhere on the island (I think not, it's more brutal that way).

Agent Coleman is delivered to the station.


Commentary: And, the movie is basically over! We don't need any of this.


He congratulates Deputy Johnson on being assigned as new temporary Sheriff, which (presumably from gossipy patrolman) he heard is likely to be permanent. He next congratulates the kids on their busting a spy ring that U.S. Intelligence couldn't even find. (And Jay Hawks is overly mugging amusingly.) Reg blows off the heroics as their just being scared and trying to save their own lives. Coleman nevertheless tells them how wonderful they all are. Blah-Blah.

Skip gets excited over medals that surely will be coming and the accompanying accolades. Reg is still worried about his missing boat. Coleman tells them they can come when his men search the island thoroughly.

We end on a lame joke and the kids drive off whooping and celebrating.



The Good: The outdoors photography is handled pretty well, with the exception of the shaky cam in front of the diner.

Katherine Victor as Doctor Myra was fun in an imperious, smooth-criminal way.

I liked the plot-twist, explaining some problems with the Sheriff character, with him being a stooge for the enemy agents.


The Bad: General pacing is a real problem due to too many scenes that follow characters walking from point A to point C in real time. It's also repetitive, as we keep following people along the same outdoors path and down the basement stairs over and over. Shots are held too long, and people traveling is always in or nearly in real time, wasting precious watching time in which nothing is happening. Walking people walking is not interesting or germaine to the story!

And, part and parcel of the above, the amount of time we spend looking at the shore is mind-numbing. I'm all for location shooting, but jeezus - try editing.

That Scene 12 Kitchen microphone work has got to go here. That was some real bad soundwork.

The entire Gorilla thing was pointless, dumb and way too convenient (but unnecessary at the same time) in taking out Other Enemy Agent.

The interior sets are horribly bare, which is really noticeable because of the outdoor photography that has plenty to catch the eye.

There is some real continuity issues as discussed, mostly having to do with timey-whimey confusion.

The script entirely blows the Good Guy Intelligence Agency's role in the story by having them be so utterly incompetent. It is inconceivable that a good guy agent (and it's clear he wasn't a double agent or anything) would give Doctor Myra - a suspected terrorist scientist - a valid passport into the country without having a surveillance operation already set in place. And the script doesn't even bother trying to address this incredibly dumb plot crater.

Oh, that day-for-night shot! Appalling. No amount of suspension of disbelief is going to help you there.

If you're giving Evil Enemy Agents guns, they'd better damn well shoot somebody.


Other Thoughts: As to our male lead characters, Reg and Skip: Don and Paul have uneven acting throughout. When they're good, they're decent but when they tip into awkward, they're really bad. So watching them is a mixed bag. Jay is fine for the most part, but he can't stop himself from mugging in scenes where he shouldn't be the focus.

On the female side (apart from Katherine), we have Dottie, Pam and Julie: Both Nan and Bri swerve wildy as well. I think Bri was the stronger, especially in scenes where she needs to react or do things in the background, but isn't the focus of the scene. Nan starts to gain your favor, but then she'll suddenly turn screechy and overacting. Mitzie started off well enough, but as the movie went on, I swear she faded more and more into the background. Often, when she wasn't the one delivering the dialog, she looked like she wasn't really sure what she should do, so just stood there in the background, disconnected from the scene.

I was disappointed by how little Ivan was given to do, considering his menacing setup and being Doctor Myra's henchthug.

The bad guy plot is muddled to say the least. I've made some sorta sense out of it for you, but the confusion between the poison pellet/gas/bacteria nature of their diabolical weapon really needed some more thought at the script stage. It isn't a deal breaker, so not in The Bad -- but it is pretty amorphous.

One of the real problems (not quite in "The Bad" league, but it's definitely there) is that with The Bad Pacing, you notice the continuity issues and you're able to actually start building a nice mad science story of your own with the elements presented that are better than what you have to watch. The time discontinuity, Ivan's role, the mind-numbed people from the beginning, Skip's super sense powers.... I'm disappointed that a better story didn't come out of the elements that Jerry was working with (even ignoring the continuity issues, the basic mad-evil-science mind control elements could've made this a good story).


The Score: What a disappointing handling of some pretty easy B-Movie elements. The acting is swerving around a lot, but nobody made me want to claw their faces off, but even when you saw some acting that you liked, it was generally in a scene where the pacing was killing off the goodwill. Like with so many B-Flicks of this era, another few rounds of script work and a slightly more ruthless viewpoint could have done wonders. They really needed to go through every scene where somebody was walking around fruitlessly, edit it down, and then come up with material to fill that time that would be more attention-holding.

The elements of a good B-Movie were there, but none of it was exploited by our writer/director. Alas.

2.25 stars out of 5


--end--

Next up: BTVS, Season 9, Issue 2.