08 July 2011

THE FLESH EATERS/1964

THE FLESH EATERS

1964/Director: Jack Curtis/ Writer: Arnold Drake
Cast: Martin Kosleck, Byron Sanders, Barbara Wilkin, Rita Morley, Ray Tudor


All the action in The Flesh Eaters takes place on a small island off the Atlantic coast where five people must face a ravenous, microscopic organism that consumes human flesh in a matter of moments. The budget for the film by director Jack Curtis is obviously very low and according to one story was subsidized by winnings his wife made on a TV game show. The characters are all comic bookishly two dimensional (and not surprisingly since the screen writer was also a comic book writer named  Arnold Drake): a mad Nazi Scientist, a drunken former screen queen, a down on his luck pilot, a zany beatnik and a good hearted gal with huge hooters she is not adverse to showing now and then.

The evil Nazi Peter Bartell, played by Martin Kosleck who made a career of playing evil Nazis, is the man experimenting with refining the flesh eater experiment that was begun during the war. His experiments are interrupted when the plane being flown by studly looking Grant Murdoch (Byron Sanders) has to land off the coast because of a bad storm. With him are his passengers jaded former movie idol Laura Winters (Rita Morely) and her assistant Jane Letterman (Barbara Wilken). A rule in low budget sci fi flicks is “lots of dialog” and this movie follows the rule form beginning to end, but the chat is actually not too bad. The acting is campy and hammy often enough but I get the sense the actors and crew knew this and had a little fun with what they were working with, and so The Flesh eaters becomes a more watchable and enjoyable ride than The Brain Eaters. The group is joined later by one of the most obnoxious characters in the film, a beatnik named Omar who rants and raves about love as the weapon so often that we feel relieved when he has his entrails eaten from the inside out later with a microbe laced martini made by Professor Bartell. In one memorable scenes hero Grant Murdoch must rescue lush Laura Winters who has walked out onto a jetty looking for her booze. He gets some of the flesh eaters (usually holes poked in the film) on his leg ad they are removed by Bartells pocket knife. They need something to stop the bleeding and in no time sexy Jane Letterman removes her blouse and spends the rest of the scene in her white bra.


There are some actually gory death scenes in this film which were ahead of its time in 1964. I have mentioned the demise of Omar the beatnik, and later characters have similar explicit death scenes. One thing that threw me for a loop was that at the end the surviving castaways must deal with a huge rubber monster after an attempt to electrify the microbes only cause them to grow and unify. In a very odd twist the thing that kills the beast (remember in old sci-fi flicks there is usually one special things that does the beast in, never bullets, and it must be found and developed in the last twenty minutes of the film) is human blood delivered directly into the eye. Strange that a thing that consumes human flesh is killed by human blood.

The photography (by Curtis under the pseudonym Carson Davidson) is actually pretty good, and while the effects are pretty low budget they were pretty effective for the time. The two women are pretty sexy and the tension between super jock stud Grant Murdoch and evil genius Peter Bartell is stereotypical and amusing. How else would you want it? This is a good  bad movie and of the two reviewed here I recommend this one more highly. Not to missed by enthusiasts of midnight cinema.



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