Space Zombie Bingo (1993) 1 brain

I know pretty much what to expect from a Troma film. Zero budget, bad acting, and some good ideas in the middle of mostly mediocre fare. Space Zombie Bingo (directed by George Ormrod) is that, but with a twist: the badness is intentional (wink, wink), meant as a spoof of bad budget horror films, Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space in particular. This approach is clever. This way, the worse the effects you're using, the better the joke. But once you get the joke, you're just left with another slow, bad movie.

That's not to say that a funny movie can't be made this way. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (not a zombie movie) does the same thing, spoofing budget 1950s horror, but the acting and writing are much sharper, providing genuine enjoyment. In Space Zombie Bingo the joke mostly relies on using bad special effects. I think bad effects are funnier when you realize that the director is actually trying to pull it off straight than when the director is making fun of someone trying to pull it off straight.

The most consistently funny running joke is Crisco, a character paying homage to Ed Wood's Criswell, the oft-used narrator prone to making portentous statements into the camera to provide food for thought. Crisco goes back and forth between narration and actually appearing in the movie as a "psycho" (psychic), helping combat the alien zombie menace. This is the latest in several attacks by the alien zombie invaders, which in the past have been resolved by nuking our own cities to get rid of them. Leading the current war effort are Major Kent Bendover (William Darkow) and General Herpes Simplex (Hugh Crawford), who seem to be considering the self-nuking option yet again.

The movie starts out well, but as the basic joke sets in, it gets less and less funny, and at the same time the plot starts to wander, making for some very dull patches. I had to watch some portions a couple of times, since I kept falling asleep in the middle of them. Ormrod has a good sense of the absurd, but he lingers too long on most of the gags.

The zombies are more along the lines of those from The Astro-Zombies than from Night of the Living Dead. The costume is basically a welding mask, a set of flippers, and a death-ray gun (I will admit that the flippers made me chuckle for much of the movie). There is some gore in the movie in a scene where a zombie is being dissected, but most of the deaths are bloodless (from the death-rays). True gore fans will be bored.

One word of warning: the DVD cover of the movie that I watched shows a bevy of bikini-clad alien women. These women do not actually appear in the film, unless it was during some of the brief moments when I fell asleep.