Not many people know this, but Batman icon Adam West had a challenging few years after he was finished playing the Caped Crusader. Although West had phenomenal success playing Batman, the role was so popular that West was typecast, and almost no role he took could shake off his Batman image. This is certainly true for one of his biggest flops, the little known ’80s zombie flick, Zombie Nightmare.
He tried his hand at a few serious roles, like in the 1969 film The Girl Who Knew Too Much, which was a flop. He did a few other now long-forgotten films and eventually settled into a career of television walk-ons and cameos. Modern audiences remember West fondly as Batman but also for his role as the cooky Mayor in Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy. However, when West was still trying to shake off the Batman typecasting, he took a role in a notoriously awful zombie movie, that has now attained a cult-classic following.
8 What Was Zombie Nightmare?
Zombie Nightmare was an independent movie filmed in 1987 in Canada. The movie stars Frank Dietz as a detective hunting down a serial killer who is actually a zombie. The zombie is the revived corpse of a boy named Tony, whose father was stabbed to death at the beginning of the film. Tony is revived by a Haitian Voodoo priestess named Molly, who was saved by Tony’s father. West’s character, who was a police captain, was also the man who killed Tony’s father. The rest of the movie is just Tony killing his murderers one by one as a zombie until West gets sucked down to hell by the zombie of the man he killed.
7 He Was Not The Only Star In The Movie, And Several Others Were Supposed To Be Cast
As already mentioned, Adam West’s co-star was Frank Dietz, who is now a successful screenwriter. Another star in the film was the lovely, Tia Carrera, who Mike Myers fans might remember from Wayne’s World and Wayne’s World 2. Several other stars were meant to be in the film, like wrestling superstar Billy Graham. Graham quit the film because the day he arrived for shooting, no one picked him up from the airport and he waited there for nearly eight hours. PeeWee Piemonte, a famous bodybuilder, was originally slated to play the zombie but was fired after eating all of the food at the craft services table.
6 Production Was A Nightmare
The airport and craft services incidents were hardly the only two things that made the production of Zombie Nightmare a real-life nightmare for the director and cast. According to Frank Dietz, of the actors nearly caught on fire thanks to one of the lights that were used to create a visual effect. Plus, Adam West, who was only on set for two days of production, is seen in one shot reading from his script that is sitting on the table. In an interview, Dietz defended Adam saying that while he was learning his lines on set and in between shots. The shots of him reading the script were not supposed to be in the movie, but the director was forced to use them because they had lost the footage of Dietz’s reaction shots.
5 The Movie Made A Little Bit Of Money, But Never Made It To Theaters
The movie was originally supposed to be released in theaters but instead, it was sent directly to video. There was no premiere, no awards, and the film was soon forgotten after it came out. However, the film did make nearly $2 million in profits on its $200,000 budget. This is not bad but it did not become a zombie classic like 28 Days Later or Night of The Living Dead.
4 It Gained A Cult Following Thanks To MST3k
While the film was forgotten for many years, it got a second breath of life when it was lampooned in season six of the famous movie riffing show Mystery Science Theater 3000. Because of West’s performances and the noticeable debacles from the hellish production, the episode quickly became a fan favorite and is now one of the show’s most popular episodes.
3 Adam West Laughed About It Afterwards
Adam West and Frank Dietz remained friends after the film until Adam West died in 2019. According to Dietz, Adam West laughed at how bad the movie was and was not bothered by the fact Mystery Science Theater used it in one of their episodes. In fact, quite the opposite, West was so good about laughing at himself that he hosted one of MST3k’s Thanksgiving Day Marathons when it aired on Comedy Central.
2 His Career Picked Up A Few Years Later
This movie might have been a turning point for West’s career. Although his film career never could shake off his Batman persona he soon after this film began to work more prominently in television and soon began his voice acting career. One of his first roles, besides Family Guy, happened in a 1997 episode of Rugrats when he played action hero Captain Blasto. He soon after did work for other Nickelodeon shows like The Fairly Oddparents and voice acted in several video games.
1 He Died A Legend
While he was never able to shake off the Batman baggage, he eventually just embraced his image and for years afterward was a fan favorite of almost any television show he was a part of. Mayor Adam West, Catman from Fairly Oddparents, and of course Batman are all iconic roles to each of the fans of these shows. When he died, the city of Los Angeles honored the actor by flashing the Bat-Signal onto city hall.
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