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The Forgotten Cult Classic: Toxic Zombies Rises from Obscurity

Toxic Zombies

The late 1970s marked the explosion of low-budget zombie horror films following in the footsteps of George A. Romero’s seminal Night of the Living Dead. Obscure b-movies like Toxic Zombies delivered over-the-top campy zombie scares and gore on miniscule budgets. Long forgotten and overlooked, Toxic Zombies has experienced a resurgence as an amusing cult classic for fans of retro grindhouse horror.

Released in 1979, Toxic Zombies was the brainchild of director Charles McCrann. McCrann helmed the Z-grade production on a shoestring budget of just $12,000. The plot is classic b-movie fare: illegal chemical dumping on a remote hippie island mutates the inhabitants into flesh-eating zombies. An industrialist sends mercenaries to wipe out the ghouls before the illegal pollution is discovered. Amateurish acting, silly effects, and poorly executed gory deaths follow.

YouTube video

Upon release, the film was panned by critics and largely ignored by audiences. However, in the decades since, the film has gained notoriety among horror aficionados for its sheer awfulness and incompetence.  The dreadful makeup, clumsy zombies, and over-the-top bloodshed provide laughs for viewers looking to revel in a ridiculous guilty pleasure. While objectively a poorly made film in all regards, its entertainment value as an absurd zombie romp and time capsule of late 70’s indie horror has earned it lasting appeal.

The movie received little mainstream distribution and was mainly seen via VHS. It has since lapsed into the public domain, emerging on some horror-centric streaming services. Though initially a commercial and critical failure, Toxic Zombies now has an enthusiastic cult following who appreciate its absurdity and over-the-top B-movie mayhem. What was once a forgettable toxic dump of a film has been resuscitated as a campy delight for fans of low-budget zombie horror.

Buried for decades, the long-lost film crawled from obscurity to gradual recognition as an amusing b-movie cult classic. For zombie completists and lovers of retro grindhouse fare, Toxic Zombies delivers laughs, gore, and a strong dose of nostalgia for a bygone era of indie horror film making. Through sheer determination and its refusal to remain dead, Toxic Zombies has staggered to accidental success as an unlikely horror fan favorite.

Where you can Watch Toxic Zombies

The film has lapsed into the public domain, so it can be found streaming for free on several platforms:

• YouTube – Toxic Zombies is available to watch in full on YouTube. Just search for “Toxic Zombies 1979” and you’ll find the 1 hour and 30 minute movie. The quality isn’t great but it’s watchable enough for cult B-movie fans.

• Archive.org – The Internet Archive has Toxic Zombies streaming for free. You can find both higher quality mp4 versions as well as lower res files for smaller screens. The Internet Archive is a great resource for streaming public domain cult films.

• Tubi TV – The free streaming service Tubi TV has Toxic Zombies available to stream on demand. Tubi has a decent selection of obscure B-movies, exploitation films, and cult horror that they stream for free with ads.

• Free Horror Films – The aptly named Free Horror Films channel on Roku and other streaming devices features Toxic Zombies for streaming. They offer a selection of old B-movie and grindhouse horror films in the public domain.

• Cult Favorite Films – The Cult Favorite Films Roku channel and subscription service ($2.99/month) offers Toxic Zombies for streaming. They focus on curating old B-movies, cult films, sci-fi flicks and other genre fare. For a few bucks a month you get unlimited access to their full library.

• DVD – As Toxic Zombies is in the public domain, it has been released on DVD by countless budget labels over the years. You can often find the DVD for $5 or less from labels like Alpha Video, Cheezy Flicks, and others that focus on obscure cult movies. The quality varies but for the price can be worth it for collectors.

As a public domain work, Toxic Zombies can be tracked down for streaming or DVD viewing quite easily. Between major platforms like YouTube and Tubi to dedicated cult movie channels, you have options to choose from depending on video quality and how much you want to pay, if at all. Any horror hound or B-movie completest willing to do some digging should be able to locate this forgotten schlocky gem of a film. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Justin
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