I Was a Teenage Zombie (1987) 1 brainhalf brain

I imagine satire has got to be one of the more difficult things to do in movie writing, or at least to do well. When you're satirizing a genre, you're emphasizing things that seem silly or overdone, but if the joke falls flat, all you're doing is just incorporating those negative aspects into your story. I Was a Teenage Zombie goes back and forth across this line, sometimes eliciting a chuckle but mostly just being a budget zombie flick. I may actually be mistaken that the intent was satire; it could very well be that the makers of this film wrote it straight, unaware that some of their characters followed horror movie archetypes too closely to be anything but mockery. The fact that it's set in the 50's, however, indicates to me that satirizing 50's horror was the goal.

The story centers around a group of high school friends trying to score some weed for a big dance coming up. There's the jock (Michael Rubin), the schmoozer (George Seminara), the brainiac, the tall, skinny nerd, and the short, fat nerd. Because of a mix-up by the local dealers, there is a shortage of marijuana in the town. All that's available is some low-grade stuff from the dealer Moose (Ignacio F. Iquino), who happily dumps his wares on the unsuspecting friends. When the friends get sick after smoking it, they confront Moose to get their money back, which ultimately ends in Moose's death.

They dump his body in the river, but unbeknownst to them, a nearby radiation leak will cause him to come back from the dead, seeking revenge. After the jock and several others are killed, the remaining friends decide they need to fight fire with fire, and dump the body of the jock in the river as well.

The people that come back from the river remember who they are, and may not even realize that they died, so their status as actual zombies is dubious. But hey, they are dead, and radiation brought them back, so at least they have some of the qualifications.

The basic idea of the story is interesting enough, but the characters are so one-dimensional that you never really empathize with any of them. The drug dealer, Moose, was actually my favorite character, which shouldn't be surprising given Ignacio F. Iquino's impressive filmography. His performance isn't enough to save the film, though. Mostly I just waited for the film to be over.