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Film / The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies

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The Incredibly Strange Creatures (full title: The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies) is a 1964 American monster movie written and directed by Ray Dennis Steckler, who also starred in the film, billed under the pseudonym "Cash Flagg". It was originally titled The Incredibly Strange Creature: Or Why I Stopped Living and Became a Mixed-Up Zombie; you can see why they were forced to change it by Columbia Pictures. (Why Columbia would bother to threaten a lawsuit is an utter mystery.)

Unemployed, free-wheeling Jerry (Steckler/Flagg) and his "foreign" roommate Harold have fun with Jerry's well-to-do girlfriend Angela; he takes her to places she's never dreamed of — like the amusement park in Long Beach. Oh, and he's totally into that night club/strip joint on the carnival's main concourse, to Angela's ire. Oops. Unfortunately for Jerry, the stripper he's interested in is the sister of the film's Big Bad, evil fortune-teller Estrella, who keeps a harem of acid-deformed "zombies" in her place of business, attached to the night club on the carnival's concourse. Oops! Oddly enough, people keep tumbling onto Estrella's dirty little secret (or as she would put it, dahrty leetle seecret), and so she hypnotizes Jerry and sends him out to silence them, then tosses him aside. Eventually the "zombies" escape their evil mistress and begin a campaign of minor mayhem through the carnival concourse before being gunned down. Jerry too, being mistaken for one of them, is chased by over-eager young cops out to the beach for a final confrontation.

This freaky little film with the famously unwieldy title (The Incredibly Strange Creatures for those of us who don't have the pecs to swing the full title around) billed itself as "the first monster musical!" beating out The Horror of Party Beach by a month. Considering the general crappiness of either film, the "honor" involved is dubious at best. Like that movie, it features many incidental song-and-dance numbers performed at the carnival's night club. Almost all of these performances were inserted into the film wholesale and have no bearing, narrative or thematic, on the story. The only connection is one night club dancer who figures into the plot as a victim.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

"The Incredibly Strange Tropes Who Stopped Living and Became a Mixed-Up Index":

  • Big Bad: Estrella, who uses her evil powers to... uh... what was her plan again?
  • Blithe Spirit: The film tries to pass off its hero— er, protagonist— eh, main character as this, but he mostly comes across as an irresponsible deadbeat.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Estrella puts Jerry under a post-hypnotic suggestion to go do her murderous bidding; but anything with even the vaguest superficial resemblance to his brainwashing session will set him off (as Angela found out the hard way).
  • BSoD Song: An incredibly slow, heavily muffled version of "Rawhide," apparently. Uh, alright, then...
  • Butter Face: Madam Estrella, while not ugly (except claimed in the movie), has a pretty nice body.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: The comedian in the nightclub is horrendous, especially his timing on the "my mother irons and my father steals" joke, which was really old even when this movie was made. Lampshaded when someone in the audience snickers prematurely.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Oddly enough, Harold catapults during Jerry's nightmare.
  • Cats Are Magic: Drunkard dancer Marge Neilson sees a black cat in her dressing room, setting off the events of the movie.
  • Death by Disfigurement: Every single one of the zombies. Even Jerry, who's pretty much physically and mentally fine except for a little scarring.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The zombies of the title don't appear until the very end of the movie and then get killed before they can do anything.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Jerry's dream sequence.
    Tom Servo: I think I'm freaking out...
  • Downer Ending: Jerry is shot and dies. The, er, end.
  • Extreme Doormat: Angela is remarkably forgiving of Jerry after he tried to strangle her.
  • Fanservice: Carmelita's striptease is the most notable scene, but really, the film seems more about just watching women sing and dance in provocative costumes than anything else.
  • Femme Fatale: Carmelita the stripper lures Jerry in to be hypnotized.
  • Gory Discretion Shot / Shadow Discretion Shot: Jerry's murders are depicted in this manner.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Estrella opens the door where the zombies she has created are being stashed. They get out with no fuss whatsoever and promptly kill her, Carmelita, and Ortega.
  • Idiot Ball: After Jerry tries to strangle Angela, her mother not only fails to call the police, but allows Angela and Harold to go looking for Jerry that night.
  • The Igor: Ortega. Given his Hatton-esque facial disfiguration, he may even be one of Estrella's earliest "leetle pets".
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: When Stella confronts Estrella concerning Marge's murder, Estrella at first claims no memory of Marge's visit the previous night ("Was she? I don't remember.") Then, when Stella asks point-blank just what kind of reading Estrella might have given Marge, the fortune teller states emphatically, "Nothing, because she was never here." Obviously, this doesn't quell Stella's suspicions.
    Stella: If I didn't know you better, I'd almost think you had something to hide!
  • Informed Attractiveness: Carmelita's cute and all, but she's not quite the ravishing seductress the movie wants her to be.
  • An Insert: "So the director just filmed an 'open mic' night and made it half his movie?"
  • Large Ham: Estrella delivers much of her dialog with more relish than a New York hot dog cart, and with a bug-eyed expression that would put The Giant Claw to shame. "You dahrty feelthy peeg!"
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's never really made clear whether Madame Estrella has any genuine prognostication abilities or not. She performs a couple of fortune readings over the course of the story which ultimately prove entirely accurate; but while these are pretty much Self-Fulfilling Prophecies, they become so only after the reading has already been made note .
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: When Jerry murders Marge and her dance partner Bill, the radio news and local newspaper focuses on Marge's death. Bill's murder is treated as an afterthought.
  • Monster Misogyny: Like many serial killers, this killer's targets are female (he does kill a couple guys while he's at it, but only because they were in his way).
  • More than Mind Control: Jerry seems pretty easy to hypnotize.
  • NEET: Jerry is an unemployed slacker with no ambition to be anything else.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The "zombies" are really just brainwashed slaves, and no-one gets "mixed up." The extra long, silly title makes it sound like the film's a parody, when it isn't.
  • One-Steve Limit: Has two characters named Stella and Estrella, which is the Spanish form of Stella
  • Our Zombies Are Different: And by "zombie," we mean "acid-scarred hypnotized serial killer." Though, admittedly, "hypnotized slave" is more in-line with the popular idea of a zombie at the time. And save for Jerry (who uses a knife), their killing method is the same as every other monster from the era: Putting both hands around the victim's neck and bodily shaking back and forth until deadness ensues.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Jerry. When he's not being hypnotized and controlled by Estrella and Carmelita, he's being otherwise useless. Neither he nor anyone else actually do anything to stop the antagonists, who do a good job bringing about their own downfall.
  • Professional Slacker: Jerry.
    Jerry: "Her mother doesn't like anything, especially me."
    Harold: "Well, if you get a job or something, she might change her mind, you know?"
    Jerry: "A JOB?! Be a little discreet about that, will you, Harold? Somebody's liable to hear you. "
    Harold: "Well, you gotta do something, you know?"
    Jerry: "Why? The world's here to be enjoyed, not to make you depressed. That's what work does, Harold, it makes you feel depressed."
  • Right Way/Wrong Way Pair: Jerry and Harold have shades of this. Jerry is a huge slacker who refuses to work and is a bit of an unfeeling jerk to Angela and women in general while Harold seems to be a nice, responsible, easygoing good guy who even suggests to Jerry that Jerry should get a job. Though it's unstated, it's likely that he owns the car and earns an income to pay the rent. Harold would probably be a much better boyfriend to Angela. Even Mike and The Bots acknowledge this.
    Mike: "Goofus & Gallant: The Movie!"
  • Senseless Sacrifice: The radio news states that after Marge was murdered, her dance partner Bill chased after the killer but was murdered himself.
  • She Knows Too Much: Marge, the drunken night club dancer, gets the ball rolling for her own murder when she accidentally stumbles onto Estrella's zombie harem. Later on another dancer, Stella, becomes suspicious of Estrella, and becomes her next target as a result.
  • Shrug Take:
    Dancer: That's your idea of a big evening? I should slave over a hot stove cooking dinner for you?
    Barker: Why not?
    Dancer: [Shrug Take] Who's going to wash the dishes?
  • Spit Take: After a drunkard rebuffs Estrella's advances and insults her, Estrella summons her minion Ortega to seize the drunkard. The drunkard has just taken a swig of his booze when he turns to see Ortega advancing menacingly, and promptly spits during a Double Take.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: As unarmed Jerry attempts to flee the police at the end of the movie, he climbs up a large rock face to escape. One of the police who's been chasing him can't be bothered to follow, and simply shoots him from ground level.
  • Tarot Troubles: Along with performing a palm-reading and a crystal ball reading for the protagonists, Estrella also performs a tarot reading for the superstitious dancer Marge. Marge freaks out and bolts after drawing the Death cardnote , accidentally stumbling upon Estrella's "pets" and setting off the events that lead to her murder.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Jerry. Knowing full well that something sinister happened to him in Carmelita's dressing room (although not quite remembering what), he goes to confront her, then — at her insistence — steps behind the curtain again without a second thought, allowing himself to be captured and hypnotized again.
  • The Unintelligible: Ortega speaks only in vowel-less mumbles.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?:
    • Harold sounds like an American doing a bad imitation of an Italian accent. Probably because he is.
    • Estrella sounds like an American doing a bad imitation of a Mexican accent.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Attempted, but it's hard when you only have four zombies.
    • Zombies who get dispatched so quickly and easily after killing only a few people.