|THE FLESH EATERS
|Copyright 1964 Vulcan Productions
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 27 April 2007
- Grant Murdoch - Our hero is bitter and suspicious; he will go far in life if he can find a way to pay the bills. I get the idea that he does not go on many dates.
- Jan Letterman - Nice girl who would give someone the shirt off her back. She might even tear it into strips as the lucky guy stares at her well-defined chest.
- Laura Winters - Everybody look at the alcoholic actress! She is frightfully stupid when drunk, mean while sober, and opportunistic at all times. Shot after stabbing fails to kill her.
- Omar - The discovery of this skeleton proved for once and for all that hippies existed before 1965. We named the species Homo Eripio-Amo Esito Beanus. (That is Latin for "bean-eating hippie.")
- Jim and Matthew - Longshoremen. Matt gets et. Jim survives, but is so ugly that I think he fishes by sticking his head under the water and scaring the fish into his nets.
- Ann and Fred - Eaten. That was Ann and Fred, ladies and gentlemen. Let's give them a big hand.
- Prof Bartell - You can have my Luger when you pry it from my bony flesh-stripped fingers. Which happens about five minutes before the movie ends.
- The Flesh Eaters - Can your heart stand the shocking tale of yeast with a taste for protein?
|The movie opens with a scene that I have always regarded as very effective. Ann and Fred are playing the normal games that adults play aboard boats, like the girl losing her top. However, something goes horribly wrong after Fred jumps into the water. He does not surface, leaving Ann to call for him with increasing panic. Then a chilling sound fills the air and a dark blotch spreads around the girl. We last see Ann as she screams at her blood-covered hands and sinks beneath the surface.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in New England, Grant reluctantly agrees to fly Jan and Laura to Provincetown, Massachusetts after the sober woman (that would be Jan) offers him three times the normal fee for the trip. Seems that Grant's charter business has fallen on hard times and he is only a few dollars from losing his aircraft, while Ms. Winters is late for a movie shoot. Just five minutes into the movie and we already have a desperate pilot, an old seaplane, a drunken actress, and a tropical storm surging up the coast. Oh, and whatever ate Fred and Ann. I hope you made the popcorn before sitting down, because this is going to be good.
En route to Provincetown, the seaplane's carburetor freezes. That is odd, because it is obviously late spring or early fall. People are wearing bathing suits; how is it, even skirting the edge of a tropical storm, that ice forms inside the carburetor? I suppose it was the only way to absolve Grant for not properly maintaining his aircraft, but it is awkward. The rugged pilot wrestles the seaplane in and lands safely near a small island.
While surveying their new surroundings, the women are startled when Bartell emerges from the surf in a wetsuit. He explains that he is a marine biologist and that they are welcome to take shelter from the storm in his tent. A couple of minutes later, the screaming starts again, because a human skeleton washes ashore. (Remember Fred?) Everyone frets over the pure white and completely intact remains until Bartell pronounces that the deceased was likely the victim of a shark attack. A marine biologist thinks that a shark did that? Do sharks peroxide their prey's bones and carefully reassemble them with wire? I am not the only one who thought the professor was smoking crack. Grant looks at the other guy like he is nuts.
The little tent survives the storm, as does Grant's plane. The latter is only moored with a single anchor driven into the sand! Heck, the tent is held up by guy lines linked to stakes driven into the sand. How did all of this not blow away during the storm?
It becomes obvious that Professor Bartell is hiding the real reason he is on the island. Especially after he encounters a beach suddenly littered with fish skeletons and is not surprised. His casting off the seaplane and staging it to look like Laura did so while drunk (she is passed out on the beach) is another indication that this guy might not be on the level. Did I mention he has a slight German accent? Never mind, Grant already dislikes women and is disgusted by useless alcoholics; blaming Laura for the plane being gone is just icing on the cake. Brown icing, and I don't mean chocolate.
Shortly afterwards, the rest of the group discovers the fish skeletons and observes a strange luminescence in the water. It takes little imagination to figure out that whatever is in the water eats flesh. This realization comes at an unfortunate time. Ms. Winters goes chasing after her wayward suitcase full of booze and gets trapped by fear on a rock jetty. Grant carries her to safety, but slips into water infested with the flesh eaters. He screams in pain as the affected area is cut away with a knife. Though obviously necessary for survival, that looked horrifically painful. No time to count the blood lost, because another character enters the film. Omar drifts into the danger area aboard his raft, the "USS Send Me Some Love." The loopy beatnik barely escapes extinction, though his sandals do not. I am uncertain why the flesh eaters consume the sandals; the footwear does not appear to be made of ground beef or any other kind of meat.
Bartell suggests that electricity might destroy the tiny horrors. The results of a preliminary test are promising, because the bubbling pot of flesh eaters is rendered quiescent. Again, the reclusive professor is up to something. He waits about an hour and the flesh eaters recover from their temporary paralysis! Even more shocking, he tricks Omar into drinking several of the creatures by mixing them into a cocktail. The hippy's death, with blood pouring from his mutilated stomach, is ghastly. As a horrifying epilogue, Bartell records the man's dying screams with a tape recorder. He pushes Omar's corpse and the tape recorder out to sea on the raft, causing the others to believe he made a break and is slowly devoured a short distance offshore.
Returning to the tent, Laura discovers the very alive flesh eaters and realizes that Bartell has a hidden agenda. She offers herself to the scientist, but the filthy monster stabs her in the liver (hard to miss) and buries her under the sand. Bartell casts aside his facade and pulls a Luger on Grant and Jan, forcing them to complete preparations to stun the flesh eaters as he provides every single piece of background information about the menace that you could ask for. What they are, where they came from, how he knows about them, what he intends to do with them - Bartell has a Masters in exposition along with his PhD in marine biology.
Electricity has an unfortunate side effect on flesh eaters: it causes them to combine into a single terrifying creature. As a result, Jan encounters a flesh eater that is the size of Cujo. She flees from the ravenous monster, both to get away and to stop Grant from electrifying the water, but is too late. However, the ill-tempered actress makes an encore appearance and attempts to stab Bartell. He shoots Laura to death and rolls her body down to the waiting super-sized flesh eater. The bloody knife punctures its "eye," actually a huge nucleus, and the creature disintegrates! Why did that happen?
Friends, it happened because contact with blood is lethal to flesh eaters. Stupid, stupid plot point, but there you have it. The script attempts to rationalize this by mandating that piercing the nucleus is required. So what? Creating monsters that greedily devour people, but are killed by blood, is brainless. Maybe the things cannot stand a specific blood type or perhaps Laura had hepatitis (goodness knows her liver was already done for). Forget it, the script stands as it was written. The survivors fill a huge injector with their blood to stop the kaiju flesh eater that is forming in the ocean. Unfortunately, Bartell still has dreams of grandeur and a Luger.
Making the killing agent something unique to Ms. Winters' blood would have been interesting and also provided for more ghoulish entertainment as the last three humans milked her corpse for a weapon to use against the huge monster. I think it is a pity that this movie maintained a serious tone the whole way through, and then tossed it aside at the end. On the other hand, the twist is in keeping with classic b-movie fashion.
I was petrified of this movie as a child. Despite seeing it on regular television, meaning that some of the gore was chopped, it was quite graphic for a boy of ten. People are eaten! Little flashing whirls cover them and blood pours forth, before the screaming victim is reduced to a bare skeleton. Watching it again as an adult, I was surprised how menacing the flesh eaters still seem to me. It only turns cartoonish at the end. I cannot reconcile something that eats flesh and has a hemoglobin allergy. Likewise, the building-sized flesh eater that Grant defeats at the end is a bit much.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Sharks are known to lick a skeleton clean.
- You do not want to be trapped in a tent, during a hurricane, with a parakeet - especially when you have a hangover.
- Hippies are deathly afraid of geeks.
- Alka-Seltzer is made by ionizing flesh-eating bacteria.
- Women have been playing the SGLI Lottery for a long time.
- People who own Lugers = bad.
- Parrots contain at least two pints of blood.
- When all other special effects fail, you can always fall back on soap bubbles.
- It is possible to eat flesh without coming into contact with blood.
- 13 mins - Does he expect the coat to stay draped over the skeleton through the storm?
- 22 mins - Mein leiben ist pure! Have some!
- 28 mins - Waking up drunk with a rope tied around a body part. I have lost count of how many times that has happened to me.
- 42 mins - The coat is still there!
- 47 mins - "I used to hate women. Let me slap you to see if I still do."
- 50 mins - Is that a baby Kronos?
- 63 mins - Her shirt was inspired by the markings on a beetle's carapace.
- 77 mins - Laura Winters in her final role! Hahahaha! Sorry, sorry. Please stop throwing things at me.
- 79 mins - Of course, that makes perfect sense.
- Jan: "I'll give you three times your regular price."
Grant: "That's just about the market price for one slightly used life. It's a deal! Only we'd better get in the air fast."
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Laura: "Or maybe you're just trying to protect my reputation from these fine gentleman. Well, that is not necessary. Gentlemen, I drink. Not polite cocktails - I mean I drink!"
||Grant: "I'll tell you what it is! There's something weird out in that water. Something that eats the skin right off ya. And now we're stuck here, because your drunken friend dumped the plane." |
Jan: "Oh, no Grant. Laura's never done anything insane like that, not even when she's...drunk."
||Bartell: "These things want flesh, any kind of flesh. And, once they sense it, they'll eat their way through anything that comes between them and their meat."
||Omar: (SCREAMING) "It's something inside me! It's eating its way out!" (MORE SCREAMING)
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|This is the scene where Grant slips while carrying Laura and is splashed with flesh eater-infested water. Bartell knows that the only way to stop the little monsters before they completely consume their victim is to cut off the affected area.
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