SHOOTING STARS: Return of the 'Astro-Zombies'

  You can’t keep a good astro-zombie down.
  The same goes for grindhouse auteur Ted V. Mikels, at right, who recently premiered his latest horrorfest, “Demon Haunt,” at the Clark County Library. (The debut was accompanied by a preview of the documentary “The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels,” narrated by another cult fave, John Waters.)
  Mikels, a longtime Las Vegan, begins production this week on “Astro-Zombies M3: Cloned” as a “sprawling ranch” in the southeast valley, where he can indulge his Area 51 fantasies to his heart’s content.
  This second sequel to Mikels’ 1968 “Astro-Zombies” (the first was 2002’s “Mark of the Astro-Zombies”), “M3: Cloned” focuses on Area 51 general Ivan Milledge’s plans to clone the title characters to form an invincible army. Complicating his plans: Milledge’s crazed twin Peter.
  “And who do you think” is playing those dual roles? Mikels asks, with a trademark demonic chuckle. And the answer is ... Mikels himself, in part because “I’m the easiest one to start with.”
  Joining the fun: original “Astro-Zombies” star Tura Satana, playing the evil Malvira, plus Mikels’ on- and off-screen co-star Shanti (who’s psychologist and counselor Wendy Altamura when she’s not helping Mikels zap zombies).
  For this sequel, Mikels also plans to revise the Doll Squad, the female espionage team he introduced in his 1973 spy romp of the same name. (Satana, who’s appeared in all three “Astro-Zombies” movies, was a charter member.)
  Production on “M3: Cloned” may be “a little bit intermittent,” Mikels warns, “because I’ve got to find some funds.”
  But Mikels has been cranking out his cult hits since the ’60s — and he’s not about to let a little thing like virtually nonexistent financing stop him now.
  “I always said that, when I hit 104, I’m going to slow down,” he says, only partially in jest. “That gives me a good 25 years.”
  What’s cooking: Or, more precisely, who’s cooking? The Fox competition “Hell’s Kitchen” will hold an open casting call Tuesday to search for top chefs, 21 and over, “who are passionate about cooking and skilled at their craft,” to quote the casting session’s flier.
The open call will be held from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe, 4475 Paradise Road. (Casting officials will cut off the line at 4:30 p.m., so arrive earlier if you want the chance to see if you can stand the heat.)
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  Back in town: The documentary “Saving Sin City” completed a second round of shooting last week, focusing on Hookers for Jesus founder Annie Lobert and her efforts to help prostitutes find new and better lives.
  “We’ve had some great footage of reformed, and reforming, working girls,” reports co-director Russ Coffey of London-based VooDooDog — and its new documentary division, VooDooDox. “We’re getting some very colorful images.”
  The production plans two additional Vegas visits next year: in January and in early summer. “Saving Sin City” will hit the festival circuit in late ’09 or early 2010, Coffey anticipates.