wowee, at last - the third or fourth film i have watched during the year that is 2015. i am pretty sure it is only the third, look you see - Grudge Match and Woman In Black being the other two that i can remember with a degree of certainty. oh no, it was three - Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. So watching Flesh Eater does indeed make it four.
anything you could possibly want to know about this film is right there in the title, to be honest. it does more or less what it says on the box, except my copy did not come in a box. it's one of several films i have purchased for the whopping fee of 49p on the understanding that it comes in a plastic sleeve rather than a conventional DVD box. fine by me.
if for some reason you wish to purchase this film - before or after reading this review - those nice people at amazon seem keen to sell it to you for not all that much more than i paid. and they will probably send it in a box too, if you are all that bothered about it.
a spoiler free review for you? sure. if i had gotten my hands on an uncut version of this when it came out in 1988, when i were but 15, rather close to 27 years ago (!), it would have been seen as the best film in my stash of VHS tapes and declared a masterpiece.
some 27 years later (!), the reaction is rather more subdued. the effects, whilst cheap, are a mix of impressive, creative and hilarious. the excessive nudity is very, very welcome. very welcome indeed; a fact i make no apology at all about. it's just that the market for these films has become diluted. with high definition cameras and editing software so cheaply available, there are now thousands of movies like this around. low budget partial gems like this just don't have that special kind of impact anymore due to the proliferation of ultra-low budget rubbish.
before i go any further, the only thing of consequence i can add to the above is that this version i have, and the one i linked to off of amazon, is indeed the "uncut" version of the movie. i am not going to go into history of cuts and things, but on fan forums and the like it has been confirmed as being a direct presentation of the Region 1, USA unrated / uncut edition.
right, *** SPOILER WARNING *** in place for the rest, as i am probably going to end up giving most of the movie away.
and, just in case you missed that above, the return of an old friend here for you, you wonderful and wild fans of all things scrolling text (if your device allows it) :
the film commences, after some nifty opening credits, with some typical (for the 80s) teenage kids riding on a trailer, being towed by a tractor, into some woods. why are they being towed somewhere? no idea. it seems that in America gangs of teenagers always think it is a class idea to head off into some woods, drink beer, listen to some vibes, get naked and get killed.
as they are being towed to wherever (it seems to be mostly random), another farmer dude is busy pulling a tree stump out of the ground with another tractor. if you watch this film, i encourage you to savour this particular scene, as for the most part the budget was spent on two tractors.
just why is this other farmer dude pulling a tree stump out of the ground? it's a good and fair question, and one that does not have an immediate answer. why, out of all the trees in this unused woodland, is he having a go at this one? i mean, it does not look like they are planning on farming or building on the land, or doing anything.
anyway, for some reason this other farmer dude starts digging near where he pulled the tree stump out. and by "for some reason" i mean "to ensure the plot". very well hidden, under a smattering of leaves and a shovel full of dirt, he discovers some sort of tomb. on the tomb there is one of them sort of "devil" pentagram things, a lengthy warning about how you should not open or disturb the tomb, and a chain with a rudimentary padlock on it.
can you guess what, when faced with the above, our friendly redneck farmer dude decides to do with the tomb? can you? really? are you sure? i mean, it would be pretty stupid to open it up, wouldn't it? nooo, surely not? he's not going to do that, is he?
so some immaculately dressed sort of zombie type dude comes to life the moment his tomb is opened, right, and he grabs the redneck farmer dude above and takes a massive chunk out of him; his neck if i am not mistaken.
ah, you say. so what happens next is basically Friday 13th meets Night Of The Living Dead, which would mean zombie flesh eater dude (an actor from Night Of The Living Dead, i believe, reprising his role) goes and picks off the campers one by one, only he eats them instead of using a spear gun or machete. you would, as it happens, be partially wrong to say that.
we do get the camping kids (if they are camping), of course - doing some fancy dancing, taking clothes off and having a bit of ooh la la. and yes, one or two of them end up dead. one, in a bit of a nod to Friday 13th and i did put a spoiler warning up, via a pitch fork.
no, no pitch fork pictures here, but for your pleasure an image of the kids doing all dancing and stuff whilst they, for the most part, still have some clothes on.
at this stage the plot somewhat wobbles and diverts a bit. somehow a news crew are alerted to this zombie flesh eater dude (pretty awesome, considering this was all pre-mobile phones) and they broadcast warnings about it. we then see lots and lots of other characters, and a party that is going on at a barn near where the kids were doing all that camping. also, shots of a family in a house, making toffee apples and randomly having naked showers.
sorry, i wasn't paying as much attention as i could between the 40min and 50min mark of the film when all this happened. it might make sense if i did, but i didn't, so i didn't.
i did pay attention to the party thing, however. alcohol + class stereo + teenagers = strong and good chance of nudity. this did indeed come along, but what turned out to impress me the most was some smart dancing. here, have a look, i took a bit of video of it off of the tele and that for you.
that's smart that, isn't it? sadly that which i have filmed is all we see of it, more or less. we do, however, get a lot more of the karate kid in the above scene, which is boss if not epic.
i think the karate kid character is my favourite out of the movie, for reasons which shall be revealed at the end of this post. well, not end end, but towards the end. you will see.
why is karate kid my favourite other than the reason to be revealed? he's just awesome. at the party, right, he stops dancing and goes off for a touch of ooh la la with either a cheerleader, or a teenage girl dressed as a cheerleader, or a cheerleader who has come to a fancy dress thing as a cheerleader. anyway, zombie dudes turn up (oh yeah, when main zombie dude bites you then you also become a zombie flesh eater; a concept borrowed off all that Dracula thing i think), and he goes to see what the noise is all about. maybe it was putting him off his stroke or something.
when he sees all the shenanigans off of the zombie eaters, right, he jumps in and decides to karate chop one of them, as the karate kid outfit has obviously given him karate powers. or maybe, like the cheerleader, he is an actual karate kid, and he just wore his usual clothes to the party.
as it turns out, and i did put ample spoiler warnings on this post, a karate chop - class as it is - is not an effective weapon against zombie flesh eater dudes. nope, not at all. karate kid dude, alas, ends up getting quite knacked.
anyway, that plot wobble comes back, and some sort of posse of redneck farmers assembles with big guns to go and sort out all of these zombie flesh eater dude types.
the leader is, of course, a gent in uniform, and this scene with the copper is the best non-nudity related moment of the whole movie.
yes, that's right. the troop ready to go off and slaughter the zombie flesh eater dude types are all stood around him and yet he is still speaking to them via a f*****g bullhorn loudspeaker thing. how amazing and awesome is that? the best part is that whenever one of the redneck farmers ask him a question he answers without the class bullhorn loudspeaker thing.
why do i do this? i mean, i have access to several bona fide classics of cinema, and i have a number of highly rated films that i have yet to watch (Inception, for instance - nope, still not seen). and yet i end up watching rubbish like this. well, i just really, really like trash, i suppose.
anyway, off the redneck troop go, interestingly in packs of three. remember, kids, this is some 5 or so years before him with the beard made that Jurassic Shed thing with the velociraptors hunting in packs of three. no, not that one with the beard, the other one - him who did the shark film.
this is a still of three of the redneck farmer dudes strutting, looking for some zombie flesh eater dudes to knack. somewhere along the way they also got told to shoot them in the head.
i particularly like the above scene as it features the best uncomfortable, scared but let us look hard scene ever made outside of the members of Survivor walking very quickly indeed through a mostly black area of some town in the Eye Of The Tiger video. serious, go watch again - the keyboard dude or drummer in glasses looks like he is going to sh!t himself in it at any point.
let it not be said that this film is without drama, pathos, poignancy or emotional engagement, dear reader. there's a quite moving scene in which one of the redneck farmer dudes becomes aware that one of his offspring is a zombie flesh eater, and must be put to death via bullet in the head.
through the magic of quality acting, can you work out which of the three in the above picture was the father? if you said the middle one, who was sort of crying as the other two shot the absolute sh!t out of the child of their mate, you are most astute in your observation.
so, zombie flesh eater dudes killed, buildings burned, blah blah blah. the only thing that remains, since further nudity is unlikely, is to insert a sort of a "tag" thing to allow for a sequel if enough money and interest was generated. so we get that copper from earlier come back to inspect the carnage, only he does not have his class bullhorn loudspeaker thing with him.
my (considerably) better half reckons he looks like someone well known, but cannot remember the name. to me he just looks like a fat Mark Wahlberg, or if you like Donnie Wahlberg.
and that's that, really. as far as i am aware no sequel was made.
did i get my 49p worth of entertainment out of this disc? yes, very much so. i refer you to the opening comments - this was all a throwback to the era of the "video nasty" and the totalitarian BBFC banning everything it could. no way at all would this have gotten a release in the UK in the 80s.
oh yeah, karate kid? here, have a look at how he appears in the credits.
yep, billed only as "Karate Guy". even though the Cheerleader, billed here as Cheerleader, says his name - Steve or Peter or something.
spare a moment of thought for Steven B Sands, dear reader. after this film he presumably went off to audition for other roles or, if you like, parts. on his CV he would have had to point out he was once cast as the pivotal part of "Karate Guy" in Flesh Eater. that might have been tricky when he went for more family orientated parts. although Michael Madsen went straight from Reservoir Dogs to Free Willy, so you never know.
as for technicalities of the disc, you get possibly more extras that the film deserves. here, have a look.
yeah, you get a photogallery with an isolated soundtrack, the trailer and a pretty comprehensive 35 minute "making of" thing. except it seems to be an anniversary "retrospective" than a "making of" recorded for posterity (presumably) at the time.
this is tremendous stuff for Flesh Eater fans, but highlights a problem with other, dare i say better, films. Mad Max 2 for instance. there are deleted and alternate scenes for that film. there is a making of too, which shows how they did all of those incredible things with cars. none of them feature on the blu ray or DVD. the same is true of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome - none of the deleted scenes, no making of and not even just one of the two Tina Turner music videos. sigh.
so, yeah, that's that. if you, like me, grew up in the 80s and read Fangoria, hoping to one day see all of these awesome films they got in America but Thatcher decided Britain could not watch, give it a look!
thanks, as ever, for reading.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!