Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Marius Penczner's I WAS A ZOMBIE FOR THE F.B.I.

A Movie Review by Dennis D. McDonald

What possessed me to rent this movie? Was it the title? Did I have a sudden urge to see a zombie film (normally my least favorite horror sub-category)? Or did one of my kids surreptitiously add it to my Netflix queue without my knowledge?

No matter. I enjoyed it, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good tongue-in-cheek spoof of 1950’s Roger Corman cheapo-sci-fi, complete with black and white photography, cheasy special effects, and weird (in this “Director’s Edition”) music.

Be warned that this “cult classic” lacks the “gravitas” and eerie Utah settings of Carnival of Souls, which I believe is a much much better “independent” horror film from the early 1960’s (“Zombie” was made in the early 1980’s). But it has a charm all its own that makes it worth a watch:

  • The actors for the most part play it straight.
  • The threadbare sets and costumes are inventive and always fascinating.
  • The monster is an admitted rip-off of  Ray Harryhausen’s techniques; the choreography of “his” sequence with its interplay of live action with stop motion and props is inventive and creative.
  • The script is hilarious in parts.
  • The photography and editing are creative and energetic; there are so many angle and point of view changes you almost forget we’re watching the same scenery and set over and over again.
  • The vintage 1950’s/1960’s cars have Really Big Fins.
  • The soundtrack and score, newly recorded, is quite entertaining and even atmospheric at times in a faux Eisenhower jazz era kind of way.
  • The men wear hats.

There are a few very good extras in the DVD — production details (including the making of the soundtrack and the stop motion monster), an energetic and informative Director’s Commentary (this guy has good memory), and a 5.1 surround soundtrack that has very aggressive surround and subwoofer effects.

Definitely worth a rent. This film again proves you don’t need a fortune to come up with an entertaining piece of film making!

Review copyright (c) 2005 by Dennis D. McDonald

Dennis D. McDonald's FIVE STAR MOVIES

Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls