Teenage Zombies – USA, 1957


‘Young pawns thrust into pulsating cages of horror in a sadistic experiment!’

Teenage Zombies – re-release title Teenage Torture – is a 1957 [released 1960] American science fiction horror film written [as Jaques Lecotier], produced and directed by Jerry Warren (Creature of the Walking DeadFace of the Screaming Werewolf; Curse of the Stone Hand). The movie stars Don Sullivan, Katherine Victor and Steve Conte.

The film’s soundtrack score was recycled from Kronos (1957).

Warren revisited some elements of the plot for Frankenstein Island (1981).

While boating, a quartet of teenagers, Reg (Don Sullivan), Skip (Paul Pepper), Julie (Mitzie Albertson), and Pam (Brianne Murphy), accidentally discover an island run by a mad scientist named Doctor Myra who, backed by foreign agents from “the East”, intends to turn everyone in the United States into a zombie.

The teenagers become trapped on the island, and are temporarily imprisoned in cages. They are freed when other teenagers arrive with the sheriff (who turns out to be in league with Doctor Myra).

A complicated fight scene serves as the climax, in which a de-zombified gorilla arrives just in time to attack Dr. Myra’s henchmen and allow the teens to escape. When they are safely back on the mainland, it is implied that the teens will receive a reward for discovering the island, and will have an audience with the President of the United States.

On November 10, 2015, Vinegar Syndrome issued the film on a DVD double-bill with 1959 nudie western Revenge of the Virgins (co-written by Edward D. Wood Jr.). Both films are presented in 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen in black and white transfers taken from 2K scans of the original 35mm negatives.

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Reviews:

“To some, Teenage Zombies is a fun and hilariously bad movie. To most, it’s absolute torture to sit through. Either way, it’s cheap, poorly filmed, endlessly talky, slow-moving, technically inept, bargain basement garbage. The acting and dialogue are both terrible, nearly the entire thing is comprised of medium shots which seem to go on forever… The Bloody Pit of Horror

“Teenage Zombies is often considered one of the worst horror films ever made. The claustrophobic sets–the ice cream parlor, the general’s headquarters (complete with large map), the police station, and Victor’s lab–all look like they were shot in someone’s house, and it’s enough to make Eddie Wood blush.” DVD Drive-in

“Entire scenes will go by in one master shot, even when only one person speaks throughout the whole thing. Occasional (very occasional) close-ups seem jarringly out of place on the rare times they occur, and you get the impression that they are being used to hide edits than the result of any sort of creative decision. I think there are about 100 cuts in the entire movie.” Horror Movie a Day

“To the stock music that in no way matches any of the film over which it blares — to gargantuan plot holes, non-existent special effects, and an ending that just sort of drags on and on like an elaborate but poorly constructed joke. Teenage Zombies has absolutely nothing going for it. But Teenage Zombies is hilariously awful, and at 70 or so minutes doesn’t overstay its welcome.” Horrorview.com

“Don’t expect much zombie action here, but the junky charms of this film are plentiful as it reels out pages and pages of ridiculous “gee, whiz!” dialogue, a clunky soundtrack cobbled together with stock music from other ’50s sci-fi films, and some juicy overacting from the villainous actors, not to mention “minimalist” sets that would get thrown out of most high school plays. Yep, this one’s a keeper.” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

Teenage Zombies is only 70 minutes long, but that’s not exactly indicative of a breezy watch when it comes to awful films from this period. Manos was shorter, and we all know what kind of a ride that movie is! But thankfully, this move is never boring, and it gets into gear very quickly.” Not This Time, Nayland Smith

” …Teenage Zombies is a lot of good, dopey fun. It’s never even close to scary and very much a product of its time but that’s half the charm of a B picture like this. Warren keeps things moving at a pretty quick pace and has a tendency to throw in a strange plot device anytime the story seems like it’s going to slow down, so we wind up with a picture that is, if not particularly logical, pretty entertaining.” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!

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“These are the types of zombies that were usually featured in the horror films of old – mindless beings who did whatever they were called upon to do by their masters and though not as fun as the brain-eating kind, they still had a charm about them. The most enjoyable part of it all was not the terrible acting or the hammy script, but the hypnotized ape who took his revenge in the end. Though it might have faults, more than a few even, Teenage Zombies is not the worst feature film that Warren would ever produce…” The Telltale Mind

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“There are mad, unregulated scientists, Communist scare business, hunchbacks with their eyes rolled up in their head, drugged out “zombies”, awful fashions (check out Morrie and Dottie’s rolled up baggies and her perfectly hideous hairdo) and even a guy in a gorilla suit. I ask you, what’s not to love?” Third Eye Cinema

 

Cast and characters:

  • Don Sullivan as Reg – The Giant Gila Monster; The Monster of Piedras Blancas 
  • Katherine Victor as Doctor Myra – Cape Canaveral Monsters
  • Steve Conte as Whorf
  • J.L.D. Morrison as Brandt
  • Brianne Murphy as Pam
  • Paul Pepper as Skip
  • Mitzie Albertson as Julie
  • Jay Hawk as Morrie
  • Mike Concannon as Sheriff
  • Nan Green as Dotty
  • Don Neeley as Major Coleman
  • Mitch Evans as Gorilla
  • Chuck Niles as Ivan

Running time:

73 minutes

Trivia:

Actress Brianne Murphy was married to Jerry Warren and was also the production coordinator and wardrobe supervisor. She went on to direct Blood Sabbath (1972) and become an Emmy-winning cinematographer. In 1980, she became the first female to shoot a major studio, union picture (Fatso). [Thanks to The Bloody Pit of Horror for this info.]

Wikipedia | IMDbAmerican Film Institute

Whole movie at the Internet Archive

Image credits: Third Eye CinemaWrong Side of the Art!

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