Blu-ray
For Fans Only
2 stars
List Price
$18.89
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Overall Grade
2 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
0.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
2.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
2 Stars
Supplements
3 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
For Fans Only

The Astro-Zombies

Street Date:
October 11th, 2016
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
October 10th, 2016
Movie Release Year:
1968
Studio:
Kino
Length:
91 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Filmmaker Ted V. Mikels is an 87 year old man who had directed a ton of movies in his lifetime, mostly being super low budget horror-cult films that very few people have ever seen. He can be compared to Ed Wood, but maybe even a little bit more schlocky, if that were at all possible. From 'The Girl in Gold Boots' to 'The Doll Squad', Mikels has certainly secured a very niche cult following over the many years, and he is certainly very proud of his films and accomplishments, which I very much admire.

In 1968, Mikels made a film called 'Astro Zombies' and actually secured John Carradine for the film, along with Wendell Corey (Rear Window) and Tura Satana (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!). There are many respected critics out there who have said that this film 'Astro Zombies' is indeed the worst film ever made. They might be right, but yours truly reserves that spot for a certain David Schwimmer movie from 1996, but I digress. This is a case where the poster art for the film is much cooler than the actual movie itself, which is often the case with these types of movies. 'Astro Zombies' centers around a mad scientist, who was let go by a space program.

In retaliation, he starts making super strong monsters from different body parts of innocent people he has murdered. These monsters break out of the lab and raise hell on Earth, which has a series of groups, including the CIA investigating. This sounds like the best movie ever on paper, however Mikels didn't have a budget of more than $36,000, which almost 10% of that went to Carradine, which made the film less than thrilling or really cohesive. There is about ten minutes of film where things actually happen here. The rest is of people driving, parking, and even a nude dance at a gentleman's club, mixed in with a ton of incoherent dialogue about how to handle the situation.

If the film were just these "astro zombies" taking people out left and right, it would have been a better film. Instead, it's a very slow burn of a movie that really never makes any sense whatsoever. That all being said, you have to applaud Mikels' effort to make a feature length movie with what seemed like no script and no money. Pure indie schlock here, which causes a ton of laughs throughout.

The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats

‘Astro Zombies’ comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc from Kino Lorber and is Region A Locked. There is reversible cover art, but no insert or digital download code. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case. 

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Astro Zombies' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. I wouldn't say this is the best video transfer in high definition I've seen. I wouldn't even say it's very good, although it has some great aspects and moments through the film. The good news is that the detail is fairly sharp and vivid throughout, showcasing individual hairs on the actor's heads, the fine stitching in the 60's clothing, and even the horrible makeup, cheap costumes and practical effects show up nicely, but to their detriment.

Colors are never bright or bold, but this is a sourcing issue I imagine. Colors go in and out of being pale, vague, and undersaturated, which is similar to the detail that fluctuates in grain and sharpness. Sometimes the looks darker in one shot, and lighter the next. It's all over the place. Black levels aren't particularly inky or deep and skin tones are somewhat natural. There are tons of warps, scratches, dirt, and debris throughout the film as well, but no other major compression issues were detected. 


The Audio: Rating the Sound

This release comes with a lossless dTS-HD 2.0 MA mix and has some problems as well. I believe this again is a sourcing issue, since the budget was so low that all the audio wasn't recorded up front. Sound effects aren't realistic and sound silly and can be over-powering at times. The ambient noises seem vague as well.

Dialogue is clear, however there are some quieter and softer lines throughout the film where it is difficult to hear everything that is being said. That's not necessarily a bad thing either. The score is light and never adds to any suspenseful moment. There are some tin-can moments, but never any hiss or pops on this audio track.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Audio Commentary 1 - This commentary track has the hilarious guys of Rifftrax (Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett) of MST3K fame delivering a gut busting laugh riot of riffs and jokes throughout the film. This is basically the only way to watch this movie and is worth a recommendation on this bonus feature alone.

Audio Commentary 2 - This commentary track has the writer/director/ producer Ted V. Mikels himself discussing making the movie, which is all sorts of fun. He seems to really love his movies and has a good time narrating the film and discussing how great and low budget his movies are. 

Audio Commentary 3 - This commentary track has film expert Chris Alexander talking about Ted V. Mikels' career, the lives and careers of the other actors, and the cult films from the era. He curses a lot during the commentary, which is very funny and can't believe just how bad the movie is. 

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 8 Mins.) - Trailer for the film, as well as some other schlocky movies.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives. 

Final Thoughts

'Astro Zombies' is indeed a terrible film on every level of filmmaking. The directorial effort, acting, script, and story are just unbelievably bad. That being said, you can tell everyone really had a great time making this on a super cheap budget. There are no thrills or horror here, but some laughs at just how bad it is. The video and audio presentations aren't great, but the three commentary tracks make this Blu-ray worth purchasing, particularly for the Rifftrax commentary. It's that funny. Sometimes you just have to own a bad movie to show your friends and laugh at to appreciate the really good ones. Recommended!

Technical Specs

  • 25GB Blu-ray Disc
  • Reversible Art

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles/Captions

  • None

Supplements

  • NEW Audio Commentary by Writer/Producer/Director Ted V. Mikels
  • NEW RIFFTRAX Commentary by Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett
  • NEW Audio Commentary by Horror Cinema Historian Chris Alexander
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Even More Trailers

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

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List Price
$18.89
Amazon
$15.28 (19%)
3rd Party
$15.28
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»