The “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” Hero Everyone Forgets About

In my last post, I mentioned how inconsistent the original four-part Texas Chainsaw Massacre series is and said they should have reused more characters/actors to better connect the stories, instead of introducing so many new ones each time. Obviously, they could have done more with Sally. She’s written off as catatonic in Part 2, then killed in Leatherface without appearing in either. Teri McMinn believes her character, Pam, survived being hung on the meathook and frozen, which isn’t completely impossible. She posted some creative writing to Facebook in 2013 (in response to the first requel, I’m guessing) where Pam wakes up and sneaks out the backdoor to freedom. And what about Stretch? What happens to her? The same goes for the Sawyer clan. Leatherface is played by four different actors of varying size and winds up with no less than seven “brothers”, a mom, a daughter, at least one desiccated grandfather figure, and several accomplices. It’s hella confusing. I think we can all agree, Leatherface and The Next Generation would be stronger sequels if some of the lesser family members were swapped out for the Cook, the Hitchhiker, or Chop Top. I know they die, but that’s never stopped horror villains before.

One character I wish they would have brought back is the unsung hero of Part 1, Cattle Truck Driver. Sally’s unnamed savior arrives at just the right moment to eliminate one family member and help her escape another. The actor’s name is Ed Guinn, which sounds suspiciously similar to “Ed Gein”, who the movie was loosely based on. Guinn had an uncredited cameo in Part 2 as a chili cook-off judge — you can see him on the left side of the screen when Drayton accepts his award — however, what I want is a full-fledged reprisal of Cattle Truck Driver. Guinn is still going strong and is active on the convention circuit, so let’s make this happen.

At the end of Part 1, Sally “[breaks] out of a window in Hell”, as Part 2 puts it, and starts down the cannibal family’s neverending driveway toward the road, pursued by the Hitchhiker and Leatherface. The Hitchhiker is close enough to grab her whenever he wants, but savors the hunt, giggling and slashing her back with a razor. He chases her right into traffic, where he’s unexpectedly run down by an 18-wheeler named Black Maria. I love how the movie starts with roadkill and ends with roadkill. It really ties it together. The driver of the truck gets out to verify that what he hit was a human and sees Sally limping toward him screaming bloody murder. Leatherface rounds the back of his truck with a running chainsaw, prompting the driver to pivot and pull Sally into his cab. Fortunately, Leatherface just stands there for a few seconds dinging up the door instead of trying the handle or jabbing his weapon through the open window.

Credit: Tubi TV

Nobody thinks clearly here. The truck driver and Sally should speed off, but hop out the gay passenger side (it says “G-AY” on it) and continue on foot. The driver becomes the only character to get a shot in at Leatherface when he turns and bonks him square in the forehead with a pipe wrench, causing Leatherface to fall backward and saw through his leg — according to Guinn, a slab of meat atop a metal plate inside Gunnar Hansen’s pants. The driver’s quick thinking allows Sally to hop in the bed of a pickup, surviving long enough to tell her tale to police.

As for him, well, he keeps on running, right out of frame. Some say he’s still running to this day. It would be awesome to see him randomly run through the background of a sequel or even an unrelated movie, stopping to throw wrenches when needed.

The makers of Texas Chainsaw 3D failed to see the potential. They tried to do him dirty. In an alternate scene contained on the DVD, he’s shown hanging from a meathook in the farmhouse slaughter room. Thankfully, someone had the sense to cut that sacrilege from the final film, meaning it never happened and Cattle Truck Driver lives on.

I’m not saying he should have a big role if he ever comes back. One scene is all I ask. Realistically, I’m envisioning him being interviewed by a reporter. So, how ’bout it, Hollywood? Give the people what they want and do the character justice this time.

“Let me tell you, that shit was cracker crazy.”

The Creeper at the DMV, or: Dear Scumbags, Quit Your Bullshit

There was a buzz surrounding Jeepers Creepers back in the day when it first came out. While it didn’t get many good reviews from the major news outlets, it did land a couple of magazine covers (Fangoria 206, Shivers 91), Hellraiser director Clive Barker called it “the most scary, stylish horror movie [he’d] seen in years”, and all my middle school-age friends were talking about how “cool” it looked. I know I enjoyed it. My mom even took me to see Part 2 at the multiplex and we had a fun time. In my opinion, it holds up as one of the best horror films of an era that brought us quite a few gems because of its novel concept and gradual way it reveals its monstrous villain’s appearance and range of powers without explaining too much about him.

As we all know by now, but maybe didn’t back then, writer/director Victor Salva is a registered sex offender. His 1988 conviction made headlines in 1995 when Disney produced Powder for him, because it looked awful for the industry leader in family entertainment to associate with a person who preys on children. By the time Salva set to work on Jeepers Creepers six years later, the controversy had died down and people simply forgot. There were plenty of promotional interviews with cast and crew for the first and second films in the series, but nobody seemed all that mindful of the monster lurking on the other side of the camera. I was just a kid with limited internet access, so if Salva’s dark past ever was dredged up in the media rounds and message boards, I missed it.

There are two kinds of registered sex offenders in my book. The ones who get screwed by the system — a very small percentage I’m sure — and the lowest of the low, the subhuman garbage. Victor Salva’s the latter. This wasn’t a case of him being seventeen dating a sixteen year old. Not even close. He was well into his twenties, abusing his position of power as a festival-winning filmmaker backed by Hollywood heavyweight Francis Ford Coppola to victimize one of his actors, Nathan Forrest Winters, for roughly four to six years (sources vary). Sicker yet, he videotaped at least some of it. These facts aren’t pleasant, but they bear repeating.

My heart sank when I learned this. For a long time, the mere thought of revisiting Jeepers Creepers gave me an icky feeling that doing so meant I was somehow supporting a pedophile. Salva’s widely circulated registration photo from 2000 in which he’s smiling doesn’t help. It gives me an unsettling John Wayne Gacy vibe.

Salva claims to have made a “mistake” and “paid dearly” for it, which doesn’t sound like an apology to me. I don’t believe monsters capable of prolonged abuse like him ever truly feel remorse, or change who they are deep inside. They may stop acting on their urges, especially as they age and their sex drives go down, but they can’t be reformed.

The whole situation poses tough questions. Like, is it wrong to knowingly enjoy the work of a terrible person? And, is it possible to “separate the art from the artist?” If so, when do we do that? Always? Or only some of the time? There are no black and white answers. It’s a moral dilemma straight from a college ethics class.

The same discussion came up when professional wrestler Chris Benoit cold-bloodedly murdered his youngest son and wife before taking his own life in 2007. There are still fans who argue that Benoit deserves to be inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame because, despite being a total piece of shit, he was a really good technical wrestler, guys. It’s delusional.

If you don’t watch wrestling, you may not realize how many people it takes to present what you see on TV. Wrestling is, by its very nature, broken up into segments, i.e. matches. For each of those, you’ve got two to four wrestlers (often more), their managers, a referee, a ring announcer, two to three commentators, writers/”bookers”, agents (known variously as “producers” and “coaches”), pyrotechnicians, lighting crew, camera crew, sound crew, and of course all the artists who provided the music, not to mention anyone who runs interference. It’s a machine with a lot of moving parts. The wrestlers are only one piece. When looking at it from this perspective, I consider it chill to enjoy Benoit’s matches.

I find modestly-budgeted films even easier to forgive because more people go into producing them. Jeepers Creepers credits over three hundred. Sure, Salva steered the ship, but the actors and actresses are the ones who brought life to his characters. And the special effects team fleshed out the Creeper. Without them, the movie is nothing. That’s why I say it’s time to lay claim to the series. It belongs to us fans now. Part 4 is releasing this year with zero involvement from Salva, and I for one am excited. It’s an opportunity for a fresh start.

Lamely, Salva wasn’t the first public figure to sully our favorite genre’s good name, and he won’t be the last. Horror has plenty of skeletons in its closet. The sad truth is, terrible people are everywhere, especially in Hollywood.

Film snobs love to forget that Academy Award winner Roman Polanski (Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant) is a repeat sex offender who fled the US to avoid prosecution. At least Salva served out his sentence, however lenient it was. Polanski ran like a bitch. Surrealist Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, The Holy Mountain) maintained for years that he actually raped co-star Mara Lorenzio in El Topo, ironically for the sake of realism. He only just recently walked back on that story, claiming it was a marketing ploy. Robert Blake, the actor from the hair-raising-est scene in Lost Highway, shot his wife of six months in the head in public, but was somehow never convicted. Harvey Weinstein (producer The BurningHardware, Dust DevilScream, the list goes on) committed untold sexual assaults spanning decades. Should we ban all these movies, these classics? Definitely not. If nothing else, they need to be preserved for history’s sake.

It does become harder to accept something knowing its author exerted near-total creative control over it, as with paintings, written works, small-scale productions, etc. I draw the line in some cases.

For example, I refuse to watch, let alone pay for, anything made by ultra-low-budget “filmmaker” Lucifer Valentine, which, by the way, sounds like a screen name an eleven year old emo came up with. He’s freely admitted in interviews to sexually abusing his (now deceased) younger, blind, mentally handicapped sister — there are so many levels of evil to that — and claims his biggest inspiration is Max Hardcore, a pornographic actor known for his exploitation and rough treatment of women in extreme fetish videos. Those two things tell me all I need to know about Valentine’s spineless maggot ass. I hope he ODs, cold and alone, in some shitty little apartment.

But I’m not here to tell you what to think about the people I’ve named or their movies. I’m here to examine something less serious. A minor plot hole in Jeepers Creepers. And ramble a bit.

The movie’s protagonists are a brother and sister on their way home from college. Darry, apparently short for Darius (Justin Long), and Trish (Gina Philips). We meet up with them on a vacant stretch of North Florida highway in the middle of a game they’re playing to pass time where they earn points by calling out personalized license plates. Darry incorrectly interprets “6A4EVR” as “Gay Fever”. Trish makes the steal with “Sexy Forever”, bringing the score to 5-2 in her favor. After passing the sexy gay motorist, they themselves are passed by a big rusty truck with a plate reading “BEATNGU”. In Part 3, a character identifies the truck as a 1940s Chevy Cab-O (or Coe, meaning “cab over engine”). I’m not a car guy, and wouldn’t have known that otherwise. So thanks, random character. The siblings disagree whether Darry gets a point for calling out “Beating You” because he didn’t do it immediately. I say let the man have it.

They pass the same bucket of bolts a short while later and observe its driver (Jonathan Breck), referred to as Beating You, credited as the Creeper, sliding obvious bodies wrapped in blood-stained sheets down a pipe that connects to the cellar of a boarded-up church. The Creeper notices them watching him and runs them off-road.

The siblings decide to investigate the cellar and find what Darry estimates to be five or six hundred bodies plastered to the walls like “some psycho version of the Sistine Chapel”. It reminds me of the inside of the terraforming station in Aliens. Darry and Trish peel away, seeking help at a gas station diner where they’re phoned by mysterious psychic Jezelle (Patricia Belcher) who plays for them the iconic title song, “Jeepers Creepers” written by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer, performed by Paul Whiteman and his Swing Wing. The song serves as a plot device and also foreshadows Darry’s unfortunate fate, adding an unexplainable sense of synchronicity to the film’s fictional universe sorely lacking in the sequels. The film ends with its monstrous villain listening to the jaunty 1930s song on a phonograph in a workshop. You can’t tell me the scene didn’t influence Insidious, where another monstrous villain listens to (a cover) of a 1920s song on a phonograph in a workshop. My favorite scene, however, is accompanied by a cover of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Peek-A-Boo”, itself a take on “Jeepers Creepers”.

One of the key moments of the whole movie is when the characters realize “BEATINGU” actually reads “Be Eating You”. As Jezelle tries to explain, the Creeper is an ancient creature, perhaps a demon, that wakes every twenty-third Spring for twenty-three days to hunt humans. It smells fear and feeds on the frightened to regenerate its own failing body parts (Jeepers Creepers, in turn, was inspired by It). First of all, why would the Creeper advertise that he eats people, bringing unwanted attention to himself? Secondly, having a vanity plate means that at some point he went to the DMV and filled out paperwork to get it.

That’s problematic for two reasons. One, the Creeper has never been shown to be capable of speaking or writing (although he does like to whistle and definitely understands language, as evidenced by his interactions with victims and a police scanner hooked up to his truck). Two, he’s a hideous monster whose very appearance would clear out the building in seconds.

I like to imagine him patiently waiting in line for an hour. He finally moves up to the counter, only to be turned away for not having a first or last name or proof of address.

“Oh, I see.”

As funny as the above scenario would be, it’s just as likely the plate is handmade. I say this because it doesn’t denote what state it’s from, and even old plates did that. The Creeper is known to be skilled with his hands and could have easily made it himself. Like I said, he sets up two different workshops in abandoned locations to craft medieval weapons and practice taxidermy. The frustrating thing is, the cops run his plate, but never announce the results. In fact, they get the results of a skin sample back in less time. What? How does that work?

If the plate is a DIY project, we know the Creeper can write, but that still doesn’t explain why he’d choose to bring so much unwanted attention to himself from police. While it hasn’t been definitively proven that he can be killed by conventional weapons, they do slow him down, and probably hurt.

If I was Darry, or Trish, or Jezelle, the moment I learned he fed on fear, I’d try the ol’ Nancy Thompson technique, tell him “I take back every bit of energy I gave you. You’re nothing. You’re shit…” and turn my back, causing him to phase out of existence. If that didn’t work, I’d encase him in concrete. That’s gotta buy, what, a century or two, until someone breaks it open, out of curiosity or by accident? The good news is, every time the Creeper goes dormant, we as a species evolve intellectually and progress technologically. He’ll eventually wake to a time in which we have laser guns and can psychically explode his head and be greatly outmatched. And then, it’s game over, dick.

I recently re-watched the movies once apiece and didn’t notice a year (they all take place within days of each other, during the same “feeding period”) until the very end of Part 3 when it shows newspapers dated 2001. I consider this a huge missed opportunity. If the movies took place in 2000, just one year earlier, the Creeper would have been active in 666 A.D., which makes for an excellent origin story. Salva really should have done the math before committing to the year that he did.

Another aspect I’m not a big fan of is how much stronger and faster the Creeper gets as the series goes on. By Part 3, he’s laughably overpowered. He can pluck people off motorcycles in midair and telekinetically summon his weapons to his hand. Plus, all of a sudden his sixty-year-old truck is an indestructible tank rigged with limitless booby traps and sentient land mines. Even the rubber tires deflect bullets. It’s too hard to believe — which is weird because I can accept he’s a demon, just not a mechanical wizard. But really, materials have their limits. Cars weren’t widely available to the public until the early 1900s, meaning he’s had at most ninety-two days, or three months, to learn how they work and modify his truck to such an extent that gatling guns have no effect on it. I mean, come on. I’m guessing he doesn’t sleep much, if at all, during his periods of activity, but that’s still not very much time. He’s either supernaturally smart, has access to unknown materials, or… I don’t know what. I just know I don’t like it. I’m hoping Part 4, subtitled Reborn, returns to what made the original great. Subtlety and suspense.

What do you think of this series?

“Boy, that must have been one heck of a movie!” — “Astro-Zombies M3: Cloned” (2010)

Directed By
Ted V. Mikels

Version Reviewed
Tubi TV version

Total Runtime
~1 hour, 43 minutes, 50 seconds

Synopsis
A video package of clips from the first two movies reminds us what’s happened thus far. It’s established that Part 2 occurred twenty years after Part 1, placing it in 1988, instead of 2002, when it came out.

An astro-zombie sprints through a field, sidestepping laser blasts from above. A well-aimed explosion knocks it to the ground. A close-up of its moving hand lets us know it’s not dead.

Cut to: present day — twenty-two more years later. An old woman wearing a bathrobe and shower cap wanders around her backyard, calling out for a lost cat named Leo. While she does this, an astro-zombie (I think it’s supposed to be the same one — where was it for twenty-two years?) sneaks into her home through her sliding glass door. The old woman goes back inside. She finds her cat. She feeds it a can of Lotus brand cat food (the same brand from Ted Mikels’ second-longest-running series, The Corpse Grinders). The voiceless intruder comes up behind her and slits her throat with a big, fake machete.

So… what does “M3” stand for? Mark 3? Mach 3? Is it a play on top-secret government programs like MJ-12 and MKUltra?
Credit: Tubi TV

Next, we jump to a book signing in Las Vegas, Nevada, where an author summarizes his latest work about astro-zombies and reptilian aliens to an audience of one person. The author comes off as a typical, paranoid conspiracy theorist, but everything that he talks about happened last movie, so he’s actually some kind of genius investigator, I guess. Two MIBs (men in black) walk in and try to intimidate him. They insist that a copy of his book be made out to a Malvina Satana — not Malvira Satana from Part 2, Malvina, with an “n” — the leader of an international spy ring, who’s only ever shown in hologram form, and is played by repurposed footage of Tura Satana (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) from the cult classic original. This movie came out in 2010. Ms. Satana died in early 2011. It’s my assumption that she was supposed to appear, but had to pull out due to poor health. The awkward hologram workaround may have been Mikels’ way of keeping her involved in spirit without having to rewrite too much of the script.

Almost three hours Northwest of there, at a “bio-terrorism conference” being held in Area 51 ⁠— you know it’s legit because the word “bio-terrorism” was hastily scribbled on an otherwise blank whiteboard in the background ⁠— a General Ivan Mikacev (Ted Mikels himself) announces the reopening of the Astro-man Project to assist the United States military in some sort of ongoing war with a country or force that he never specifies. “I want thousands of these creatures, these monsters.” he commands. “I want tens of thousands. No! I want hundreds of thousands!”

Mikacev’s plan is to excavate astro-zombie remains from the desert, extract DNA from them, and make clones. I have two problems with this:

1) The astro-zombies disintegrated in urban areas, leaving only their shoes, gloves, and helmets behind.
2) They were made from human corpses. Therefore, their DNA will be human. Astro-zombies don’t become their own species til Part 4.

As the briefing comes to a close, secret agent WQ9 (Shanti, Owens from Part 2, now wearing a trench coat) and a guy who says one line all movie just kind of arbitrarily decide that a spy has infiltrated their ranks because they don’t recognize everyone who attended. WQ9 voices these concerns to a senator (Robert Southerland), who in turn calls the Doll Squad for assistance in weeding out the potential mole.

The Doll Squad is, for those of you in the dark, a highly trained group of Kung Fu-kicking females that first appeared in Mikels’ 1973 film of the same name, which, by the way, came out three years before the suspiciously similar Charlie’s Angels. Its leader, Sabrina (Francine York), calls and assigns the mission to a big-breasted woman named Queen, who is immediately betrayed by her best friend Peaches the drag queen. Peaches tranquilizes Queen from behind, hands her over to the Men in Black, and is promptly killed in return.

Hol’ up. What’s going on here?

[continued below]

Pictured left to right: Fake boobs, faker boobs.
Credit: Tubi TV

Thoughts (Possible Spoilers)
I don’t know either.

By this point, the Astro-man Project is well under way, though. A Sgt. Woolridge (Scott Blacksher, Zokar from Part 2) heads up a dig site where inmates are used to unearth the inexplicably undestroyed skeletons of our title creatures. Once a few have been found, Woolridge lines up the inmates and executes them while shouting stupid jokes: “Why’d the chicken-shit convict cross the master sergeant? To get to the other side. Maybe you won’t find things as funny in the next world!” BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

General Mikacev’s unkempt, alcoholic twin brother Peter (also Ted Mikels) watches all this unfold from a distance, then digs up a leg bone and hobbles off to conduct his own research.

Meanwhile, inside the Experimental Wing of the government’s Bio-terrorism Department, the granddaughter of the man who invented the cybernetic assassins, one Stephanie DeMarco, looks through a microscope, shakes vials of green stuff, and performs other stereotypical scientific procedures. She has an intact astro-zombie on a hospital bed which is later explained to have come from the desert. It sits up and stares at her, which fills her with such excitement that she tells a nearby security guard to go look. “I’ve given life to a creature that’s been long deceased! Do you have any idea what it’s like to play God?”

The astro-zombie instinctively hacks the poor guy to pieces with a machete that was already in its hand for some reason. I wanna know who gave it a goddamn machete. We all know what they do with them. A man named Randy Peterson walks in. He’s all Yo, shit, let’s get this cleaned up.

“My bad.”
Credit: Tubi TV

That evening, Randy goes home to his wife, who just so happens to be a member of the Doll Squad, and breaches national security by telling her all the details of his day, including the unforeseen murder.

Over the next week or so, Dr. DeMarco spends most of her time and energy trying to civilize her test subject like Dr. Logan does with “Bub” in Day of the Dead by reading it children’s books and having it listen to classical music, all while struggling to pinpoint a mysterious defect in the central nervous system of the creatures.

Unbelievably, Crazy Peter cracks the code first. At thirty-six minutes, he discovers that astro-zombies can only understand backward talking (?), which is contradicted nine minutes later when Dr. DeMarco asks her pet zombie if it can understand what she’s saying and it nods yes.

Both scenes can’t be right. Is Crazy Peter supposed to be wrong, or did Mikels fumble this part of the plot? That’s for you to decide.

Around this same time, the mole mentioned back at the start is revealed to be some random old guy named Lancaster. He checks into Dr. DeMarco’s Cloning Room after hours and (accidentally?) activates the machine, causing it to spurt out several fully-formed astro-zombies in seconds.

Dude… no…

That’s not how cloning works whatsoever. It doesn’t just replicate matter.

Ehhh. You know what? Fine. It does.

The dozen or so death-dealing drones, which are exact copies of each other, yet come in all different shapes and/or sizes (!), break loose and rampage through town. The Doll Squad is sent in to eliminate them, equipped only with blowguns and darts that explode upon impact. Who will survive? I won’t ruin the ending, but I will say that it’s probably not one of the top hundred things you’ll see coming.

_________________________

M3: Cloned is the second of three sequels to schlockstar Ted Mikels’ 1968 film The Astro-Zombies. It was preceded by Mark of… in 2002, and followed by M4: Invaders From Cyberspace in 2012.

While it’s not my favorite of the series, I do enjoy it immensely. I’ve watched it five or more times, and I’ll be the first to admit that it makes no damn sense. A lot of its hard-to-follow-ness stems from the fact that several key characters heel-turn, switching from “good” to “bad” for no reason besides further complicating an already incomprehensible narrative. There are swerves upon swerves, to the detriment of all logic and reason. Was this written by WCW booker Vince Russo? Because it feels like an episode of Monday Nitro from the late 90s or early 2000s.

Let’s look at WQ9, for example. She starts off working for a senator. Then, she’s revealed to be an MIB. The Men in Black are employed by the Department of Defense, and ⁠— in direct opposition to that ⁠— are also in Malvina Satana’s back pocket. As you’ll remember, the mole that WQ9 has investigated turns out to be someone named Lancaster. Well, the funny thing is, he reports to Satana too.

This means that a big chunk of the action is pointless and counterproductive for all those involved. When you break it down into even simpler terms, here’s what happens: the Men in Black (WQ9) have a chick from the Doll Squad (Queen) called in to identify one of their own (Lancaster), then kidnap her ass to prevent her from doing it. What fucking sense does that make? Government agencies thwarting themselves. That’s some next level bullshit. How deep does it go?

Credit: The Simpsons, 20th Century FOX

Of course, unnavigable stories are nothing new for those of you that have seen the first two astro-installments. Now that I think about it, M3: Cloned echoes them in a big way.

Its overall tone is that of the 1968 original in the sense that it’s boring and talky like that one. Between all its setup and pseudo-scientific mumbo-jargon, it fails to harness the manic energy of the 2002 followup. Plus, it doesn’t help that its action scenes are mostly clumped together at the end. To put it into perspective, the astro-zombies don’t even embark on their customary killing spree ’til the seventy-nine minute mark, or 76.8% of the way through the movie.

Visually, M3: Cloned resembles Mark of… Their production values are nearly identical, they share quite a few props and locations, and they seem to have been shot with the same low-grade digital camera. The most obvious carryover, though, is the cast, comprised of amateur actors, doctors who want to be actors, and Ted Mikels’ friends. In keeping with the confusion, everyone plays a new role, including

Credit: Tubi TV

That’s right, JOHN WAITE IS BACK! The man, the myth, the legend, who spake those immortal words, “By comparison, we are mentally retarded children.” has graced us once again with his presence — but this time, he’s not here to expand our consciousness with philosophical insight. He plays the part of a journalist, posing tough questions. “Do you consider [astro-zombies] to be human, and if not, are they at least as intelligent as humans?” he queries. I think the real question is, are any of us truly human in the face of such greatness, such… Waite-ness? You may find yourself pondering this while his segment transpires. Invariably, the answer comes back — a resounding fuck no.

Respect.

As much as I love John Waite, I have to give the award for breakout performance to Volmar Franz as “MIB Enforcer” for the way that he shuts down the author, Leonard Bullock: “Roswell was a weather balloon. The alien autopsy ⁠— the work of a Hollywood charlatan. There has never been any kind of extraterrestrial testing at Area 51. And, just so it doesn’t screw up your day, Mr. Bullock, Sasquatch was a Kodiak bear, the chupacabra’s a mangy dog, the Loch Ness monster’s a fat sea otter, and we work for the Department of Defense in the Red Flag Division!”

“So watch your ass, fuckface.”
Credit: Tubi TV

Oh, and before I forget, big shout to the man who played “Convict Enforcer” for abandoning his Irish accent halfway through. Thanks for the laugh.

Another postive… the CGI has been greatly improved upon this time, which is good cos there’s quite a bit of it toward the end. Every time an astro-zombie gets hit with a dart, it blows up in a fiery blaze (that in one instance knocks out a car window, sending shards of computerized glass toward the screen). The effects still don’t land anywhere close to convincing, but they’re definitely better than Mark of…‘s Windows-95-game-found-in-a-cereal-box graphics.

One thing that sticks out to me as a negative is the relative unimportance of the premise. War just ain’t a big deal when extraterrestrials have already attempted to take over the planet. If I was Mikels, I would have switched the ideas for Parts 2 and 3 so the series progressed in this order:

1. Astro-zombies are created
3. Astro-zombies are re-created for war
2. Aliens invade Earth using astro-zombies
4. Astro-zombies themselves invade Earth

The only thing missing from this series is time travel…

5. Something involving time travel

You’re probably thinking: Ugh, there’s no way I’m watching this. He’s been telling me for the last however many paragraphs that it’s bad and boring, not to mention confusing. Yes! That’s precisely what I’m saying. It’s objectively awful in almost every way. But it’s also entertaining as Hell, and I still recommend that you watch it if you’re into weird movies like I am, which you probably are or you wouldn’t be here to begin with. Astro-Zombies M3: Cloned is available now on the free streaming app Tubi TV. You can’t beat the price.

I still have more Ted Mikels material to wade through, but I’m fairly confident this was his first and last crossover. By incorporating the Doll Squad and Lotus brand cat food, he established that his characters all coexist in a shared “cinematic universe” not unlike Full Moon’s, or Marvel’s. Kind of a shame that he passed away back in 2016 before having a chance to expand on that universe. The world could have used another mash-up where Astro-zombies have Blood Orgies with She-devils, or receive Text Messages From the Dead. Maybe some enterprising young filmmaker will take up the mantle.

‘Til next review, keep on slashin’.

A cartoon I done drew.

Body Count
30 humans, 16 astro-zombies.

Bod Count
0.

Overall Enjoyability
4 Russo swerves out of 5.

I Got My Copy From
N/A

Recommendations

Further Reading
The Merits of Sin: The Astro-Zombies aka Space Zombies (1968) (USA)