Madam Estrella (Brett O’Hara) is a gypsy fortuneteller on the midway of a carnival. When she is insulted by a man she is in love with she pours acid on his face. Marge (Carolyn Brandt) is a dancer at a local club. Her drinking is causing problems. Marge goes to Madam Estrella to have her fortune told. When the death card comes up Marge panics and opens the wrong door. What she sees sends her fleeing from the booth.
Jerry (Ray Dennis Steckler), his girlfriend Angela (Sharon Walsh), and his friend Harold (Atlas King) are spending the day at the carnival. After going on a bunch of rides they end up at the fortune teller’s booth. After Marge knocks down Harold in her frantic desire to escape, Angela decides she wants to have her fortune told. During the reading Jerry insults Madam Estrella. After they leave they stop in front of a booth advertising dancing girls. Angela is not happy with the way Jerry is looking at one of the dancers, Carmelita (Erina Enyo). She leaves in a huff. Jerry tells Harold to drive Angela home and goes in to watch the show.
Carmelita is Estrella’s sister. Estrella’s hunchback assistant Ortega (Don Russell) gives Jerry a note to see Carmelita after the show. Back stage Estrella hypnotizes Jerry and sends him to kill Marge. Jerry is then haunted by a series of bizarre nightmares. He then tries to strangle Angela. Jerry is again hypnotized by Estrella and begins killing more people. Estrella has been keeping a bunch of zombies imprisoned and Jerry is next on her list to totally transform.
“The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies” was released in 1964 and was directed by and starred Ray Dennis Steckler, who billed himself as Cash Flagg. The movie was filmed in "Bloody-Vision" and "Hallucinogenic Hypnovision". The Hypnovision being a spinning black and white spiraled wheel.
When it was released it was the second longest titled film in the horror genre, the first being Roger Corman's “The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent” 1957.
Steckler’s original title was "The Incredibly Strange Creature: Or Why I Stopped Living and Became a Mixed-up Zombie.", however, Columbia Pictures threatened to sue Steckler, saying the title was too similar to its upcoming film, “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964). Steckler was surprised that Columbia would feel threatened by a low budget film. Eventually he managed to talk to Stanley Kubrick and posed the new title to him. Kubrick agreed to the title change, problem solved.
The movie is part horror movie, part musical, part psychedelic bad trip and mostly just stupid. The story is intertwined with a series of dance numbers and songs that, apparently, were all filmed in one day. I’m not sure why it has a cult following. I found it to be pretty bad on all levels, everything from the plot to the choreography of the dance numbers.
The “zombies” as they are referred to are poor schmucks that had acid thrown in their faces and were locked in a cell. With that in their background it’s no surprise that when they manage to escape there are reprisals. They also don’t show up until the last ten minutes of the film. Before that it’s all song and dance until the killing starts.
In an early scene with the dancing girls Steckler had the dancers chew gum while dancing hoping it would distract from their bad footwork. Reportedly Steckler worked as a cameraman for Universal until he was fired for knocking something over on set and nearly injuring Alfred Hitchcock.
Musical numbers include “The Mixed Up Zombie Stomp”, “It’s Not You”, “Pied Piper of Love”, “How Do I Stand With Your Heart”, “Shook Outta Shape” and “Choo Choo Cha Boochie”.