Saturday, October 1, 2011
Horrorthon 3: Day One: I Was a Teenage Zombie (John Elias Michalakis, 1987) -- D-
More shocking than the utter incompetence of I Was a Teenage Zombie, an affectless genre (spoof?) entry that deserves to be left in 1980's obscurity, is that Janus Films now owns the rights of distribution, suggesting a Criterion release could be somewhere down the pipeline. In what would instantly become the company's worst release, director John Michalakis displays absolutely zero aptitude for anything that could even be mistaken as related to humor, horror, and/or good taste (if you will), assembling a group of high school dorks (none of whose names are even worth mentioning) who pool their money to buy a quarter pound of weed. Unfortunately, their chosen drug dealer deals them some bad dope, they seek revenge for having their money stolen, inadvertently killing the drug dealer, his body falling in a pool of toxic waste, only to have him resurrected as a zombie, now seeking vengeance against the teens who left him for dead. Everything that could be funny here (and it ain't much to begin with) is squandered amidst bizarrely, unusually unfunny choices, a slew of one-liners, nonsensical behavior, and dopey conceptualization, resulting in a dearth of interest or reason to pay the slightest attention to whatever inane point Michalakis might be venturing. Is this parody? Is it simply low-budget failure, an attempt to make a horror/comedy that qualifies as neither? Hard to say, since there's never any consistency of vision and approach. There's a semblance of the types of films made by Troma (there's even a character named Lloyd Kaufman), in that the shoestring budget aesthetic and amateur acting contribute to the film's larger sensibilities. However, belittling Kaufman's endeavors to mere signifiers (he's clearly a satirist) and suggesting any real similarities in terms of approach would bestow a degree of significance to Michalakis that his hackery doesn't deserve. The filmmaking is atrocious, empty, and only fit for nerds who look to horror as a means of fanboy sustenance.