A highly advanced alien race desires to conquer our planet. In order to realize their goal, they create Astro-Zombies. These creatures are powered by a mixture of Clamato juice and lemon-lime Kool-Aid and they carry fearsome machetes. There are about one dozen of the murderous constructs. The Astro-Zombies run around, massacring random victims (there are multiple times when this happens, it actually gets boring).
My head hurts already and my fellow b-movie lovers know why. Twelve Astro-Zombies are going to depopulate the planet? Let me give a few clues to the aliens: the human gestation period is roughly nine months. There are over six billion of us. We can breed faster than your army of killer mimes can chop. Plus, what sort of technology level are we talking about here? Zekith's band uses a bench grinder to sharpen the machetes. They have not developed the Lansky system, let alone a Salad Shooter. How can they travel between the stars?
While the bench grinder remark is still hot, I need to inform you that, to make the sharpener appear futuristic, they wrapped it in silver duct tape (okay, so they have duct tape). Later on a glittering wall decoration is revealed to be part of an oscillating fan. The level of special effects is on par with a fan-made "Star Wars" movie; and not a single chubby kid with a lightsaber in sight.
President Pennington assembles a crack government team to find a way to stop the invaders. In addition to his secretary (not "of Defense" or "of State," just a woman who opens his mail), the cabinet includes Jeff, some scientists, and one women who has a pull-string on her back. (When you pull her string she says, "My department would be very interested in that.") Things look bad for the home team.
In another section of the overgrown fen that is the plot, Malvira kills the director and unplugs a stage prop head from the wall outlet that keeps it alive. No, I am not kidding. No I am not explaining. Anyway, Malvira's plot involves selling fictitious Astro-Zombie technology to several nations. She does not know how to make the automatons, but plans to tell the outlaw countries that she does. The expectation is that they will then give her money.
The alien's squad of Astro-Zombies continues its rampage. Over the movie's course we are treated to numerous scenes of the constructs plodding along, victims screaming, and prop machetes being removed from stage blood covered necks or shoulders. It happens again and again and again. People shoot the Astro-Zombies and even drive a stake through one, to no avail. However, that means that the creature's skin can be pierced. Why are we powerless to stop them? Heck, my crack Astro-Zombie extermination team would involve a professional wrestler, one of those funky anti-grizzly suits, and a wood chipper.
How does it work? Use your imagination.
To complicate matters further, the bad aliens start marking members of the President's cabinet with the Satanic Starfish Hickey of Ultimate Doom (SSHUD). This consists of a scene with the person walking along, a sudden modem sound, and the target slapping at their neck; when they pull their hand away a red spiral mark is revealed. A pair of Astro-Zombies then nab the afflicted person. General Kingston starts going nuts, because all of his people are missing.
Malvira and Zokar, her henchman, summon a group of foreign operatives to demonstrate their product. He then dons an outfit that looks vaguely like an Astro-Zombie and kills two innocent citizens (kidnapped earlier, I suppose). The foreign emissaries fall for the ruse! They begin bidding like mad for the secret. Looks like Jeff's agency is asleep at the wheel; why were these guys not under surveillance in the first place?
The Astro-Zombies are given orders to kill humans with a specific eye color, so more scenes of machete bloodshed follow. Except, this time, the zombies carefully remove the poor wretch's sunglasses before commencing with the chopping action (Astro-Zombies also come equipped with kung fu grip).
For some foggy reason, the human antagonists kidnap Cindy to get to Jeff. My best guess is that they plan to force the CIA agent to reveal how the Astro-Zombies are created. With that information they can complete the deal with the rogue nations and collect their money. You know what, I do not care. I want this to be over. Even the huge blinking tracking device that Jeff wears on his wrist does not help; Zokar still kidnaps him. I mean it does not help me, the captive audience. Eventually, using Jeff's last known position, another agent saves the day by shooting Zokar. When the henchman falls, he stabs Malvira in the gut.
Tidy little way to dispose of Malvira, but that pales in comparison to how the bad aliens are stopped. A flying saucer full of good aliens suddenly drops out of the script's ass. They speak to the President and his remaining staff on speaker phone, then teleport into Zekith's ship. Blam! No more bad aliens! The end. Thank goodness. When does "Samurai Jack" come on?
In retrospect, this remake is superior in some ways to the original. There are more Astro-Zombies and nowhere is there a scene of one with a flashlight held against its solar collector. The dialog is comparable in quality, the special effects are better (they exist), but the acting is definitely worse. For one, John Carradine has always been among my favorite scientific mumbo-jumbo spewers. The prop head that tries to fill in is a poor shadow of the master. It sounds more like a delusional Mycon than John Carradine.