In the film, three friends visit a carnival and stumble into a group of occultists and disfigured monsters. Produced on a $38,000 budget, much of it takes place at The Pike amusement park in Long Beach, California, which resembles Brooklyn's Coney Island. The film was billed as the first "monster musical", beating out The Horror of Party Beach by a mere month in release date. Jerry (Steckler as "Flagg"), his girlfriend Angela (Sharon Walsh), and his buddy Harold (Atlas King) head out for a day at the carnival. In one venue, a dance number is performed by Marge (Carolyn Brandt), an alcoholic who drinks before and between shows, and her partner, Bill Ward, for a small audience. There Jerry sees stripper Carmelita (Erino Enyo) who hypnotizes him with her icy stare and he is compelled to see her act. Carmelita is the young sister of powerful fortune-teller Estrella (Brett O'Hara), and Estrella turns Jerry into a zombie by hypnotizing him with a spiraling wheel. He then goes on a rampage, killing Marge and fatally wounding Bill. Later, Jerry attempts to strangle his girlfriend Angela as well. It develops that Estrella, with her henchman Ortega (Jack Brady), has been busy turning various patrons into zombies, apparently by throwing acid on their faces. Interspersed through the film are several song-and-dance production numbers in the carnival's nightclub, with songs like "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" and "Shook out of Shape". The titular zombies only make an appearance in the final act, where they escape and immediately kill Estrella, Carmelita, Ortega and several performers before being shot by police. Jerry, himself partially disfigured but not a zombie, escapes the carnival and is pursued to the shoreline, where the police shoot him dead in front of Angela and Harold. At the time of release, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies was the second longest titled film in the horror genre (Roger Corman's The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent being the first).
This was not, however, the originally intended title of the film. As Steckler relates, the film was supposed to be entitled The Incredibly Strange Creatures, or Why I Stopped Living and Became a Mixed-up Zombie, but was changed in response to Columbia Pictures' threat of a lawsuit over the name's similarity to Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, which was under production at the time. The film was originally released by Fairway-International Pictures, Arch Hall Sr.'s studio, who put it on a lower half of a double bill with one of his own pictures. Dissatisfied, Steckler bought the distribution rights back from Hall, purchased the rights to the Coleman Francis picture, The Beast of Yucca Flats and roadshowed the picture across the US. In order to get repeat customers, Steckler re-titled the film numerous times, with titles such as The Incredibly Mixed-Up Zombie, Diabolical Dr. Voodoo and The Teenage Psycho Meets Bloody Mary
From Crackle: Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped LivingINCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED UP ZOMBIES
RAY DENNIS STECKLER (1964)