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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #535 (Vol. 11, No. 26). This edition is for the week of June 21--27, 2010.

MOVIE REVIEW
"Knight and Day"by Mike Smith
RETRORAMA
Astro-Zombies M3: Cloned Ė Florida Premierby ED Tucker
FANGRRL
FANGRRL Goes to the Florida Premiere of Astro-Zombies: M3: Clonedby Lisa Scherer
THE ASIAN APERTURE
Tampaís Natsumatsuriby Jason Fetters
MIKE'S RANT
Passing On .... Movie Notes .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf aby Mike Smith
FANGRRL by Lisa Scherer

FANGRRL Goes to the Florida Premiere of Astro-Zombies: M3: Cloned


Cult movie fans are a wacky bunch. Who else would spend their hard-earned cash on a ticket to a special screening of B-movie legend Ted V. Mikels' latest film -- a movie with the word "zombie" in the title, for goodness sakes -- and travel to a different city to attend the screening and hang out with a bunch of strangers? Well, that's what I did this past weekend, road-trippin' it from Tampa to Jacksonville with my "Astro pass" receipt tucked away in my pocket to attend the Florida premiere of Astro-Zombies: M3: Cloned. And it was worth every last penny.
an Astro-Zombie turns on ED Tucker

I'll confess up front that I had not seen any of Ted Mikels' films prior to this one, being a relatively new convert to the cult of cult movie appreciation. (Although I bought The Corpse Grinders on DVD for five bucks at Movie Stop a couple of weeks ago, if that helps any.) After reading about Mikels for years, I was intrigued, of course, but after knowing that fellow PCR writer ED Tucker appears in the film as a rampaging Astro-Zombie who gets blown up on-screen, I was hooked. (Don't worry everyone; I'm not picking a fight with ED. Cult movie fans have good senses of humor too, you see. We have to, given the movies we watch!)

At the pre-screening reception, my fellow Astro-pass holders and I got a chance to meet some of the folks involved in the film, as well as socialize with each other. We cult film folks form instant bonds. Maybe it's a result of frequently having to explain and defend our genre movie affinity to those with more mainstream tastes, or perhaps we're just so damn happy about being able to discuss weird topics without feeling weird. Regardless of the reason, at the beginning of the day I knew only ED Tucker and his wife Cindy, and by the end of the night I had lots of new friends. I won't go through the whole list of special guests -- see ED's column this week for a good summary -- but instead will just mention a few people that I met that evening.
I look a little too happy about decapitating filmmaker Kevin Sean Michaels

Documentary director Kevin Sean Michaels flew in from New York for the event, for which I'm incredibly thankful, for reasons completely unrelated to Ted Mikels or any Astro-Zombies. In addition to directing the documentary The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels, Michaels also directed the Maila Nurmi documentary Vampira:The Movie, which has sentimental value for me personally. Just when I thought I couldn't possibly worship Kevin Sean Michaels any more, I learned that (a) he's currently working on a short animated documentary about cult film queen Ingrid Pitt's concentration camp internment and (b) he's a great sport who volunteered for a hilarious photo with me and the Astro-Zombies: M3: Cloned prop machete.
ZAAT director Don Barton and me

I had the great thrill and honor of meeting Don Barton, director of the Z-movie-with-a-capital-Z classic ZAAT. As I was shaking his hand, the myriad questions and comments I have about ZAAT short-circuited my brain and rendered me incapable of saying anything after "Nice to meet you." And last but not least is artist/web designer/Lotus cat food label designer Alex Ojeda. Almost immediately after meeting, Alex and I somehow found ourselves in a spirited -- but cordial -- debate about zombies and vampires that lasted for almost an hour. That somehow seguewayed into sharing family photos (his daughter is the same age as my niece), which then somehow morphed into creating our own Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary during the movie. (My apologies to the people sitting behind us in the theater.)

Ah, the movie. Almost forgot about the screening for a minute there. (Same thing happened at the premiere because I was having so much fun at the reception just prior.) The screening started off with a bang. First there was a short trailer of the film we were about to see, to whet the audience's appetite. Then there was a brief message that Mikels had filmed just for the Jacksonville screening, which was a nice personal touch. Next up was the anxiously-awaited Astro-Zombies: M3: Cloned, which helped out anyone unfamiliar with the first two films in the trilogy by opening with a montage of scenes from the earlier films to set the stage for the current storyline. In the first film, Dr. DeMarco created the Astro-Zombies; in the second film, aliens were somehow involved (not quite sure what that's about); and the new movie picks up from there, in the present day. The U.S. government is in a big hurry to create a clone army using the DNA of an Astro-Zombie corpse they've found. In typical bureaucratic fashion, the overworked doctor responsible for cloning the Astro-Zombies is pressured into producing immediate results and isn't allowed enough time to work on quality control issues (i.e. eliminating that crazy Astro-Zombie urge to chop people up with a machete). To complicate matters even further, there are shadowy government officials, men in black, an assassination squad and at least two paranoid lunatics who all have their own plans for the Astro-Zombie army.
some Astro-Zombie memorabilia on display

At least I think thatís what the movie is about. Iím not entirely sure, to tell you the truth. (Although I can tell you that ED Tucker can swing an Astro-Zombie machete like nobodyís business.) Astro-Zombies: M3: Cloned is a silly, fun shout-out to Mikels fans, in a way, with all the references to other Mikels films and a few insider jokes here and there (or so I was told). The opening scene involves a woman feeding her finicky cat Lotus cat food (Š la The Corpse Grinders), and the killer chicks from The Doll Squad feature prominently in the film. Familiar faces include Tura Santana and Francine York, and Ted V. Mikels himself plays two different roles.

The movie's plot doesn't really make much sense -- and a lot of it is just plain silly -- but ultimately Astro-Zombies: M3: Cloned is like the Himalaya ride at the Florida State Fair: even though you're just spinning around in a big circle really fast with music blaring in the background, it's a hell of a lot of fun.


[All photos courtesy of PCR-writer-turned-Astro-Zombie ED Tucker. Thanks, ED!]


"FANGRRL" is ©2010 by Lisa Scherer.   All graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.