Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beatniks, Nazis, AND Long Island!

Some remember 1964’s The Flesh Eaters as the first in a long and most likely neverending line of ‘gore films.’ Netflix, however, prefers to shout this as its selling point:
“the only film of its type made entirely on Long Island.” 
As a proud Suffolk countarian, I felt my duty to support. 
Quick Plot: A young couple are carelessly sunbathing on the Long Island Sound, mixing things up with a skinny dip that turns deadly.

Cue mysterious underwater menace with instrumental score!
Moving on, a boozy big name actress and her sensible personal assistant hire a rogue private plane pilot to get them a few states north. Moody weather causes an emergency landing on an almost deserted island, occupied only by a slithery German marine biologist and the titular hungry sea monsters.

Also, terrifying skeletons!

The Flesh Eaters is a simple tale that, for whatever reason, works fairly perfectly for what it is. The small cast helps to keep it completely focused, especially since disgruntled de-licensed pilot played by Byron Sanders is a far more interesting lead than so many bland pretty boys of the era. The effects generally come off as ridiculous and antiquated, but also adorable and quite ambitious for the time period and black and white limitations. There’s even a hilarious beatnik named Omar tossed in just to spice things up, and much like The Wire, a little Omar makes everything better.
High Points
As the maybe genius, maybe evil doctor, Martin Kosleck is rather glorious, radiating charisma in his vocal chords and sneer

Low Points
I’m writing this review a few weeks after watching and taking my notes on this film, but I don’t remember NOT enjoying anything about it. Sure, the film is slightly limited to certain conventions based on its time period, but otherwise, it’s perfectly fine
Lessons Learned
In 1964, the price for a slightly used life was precisely three times a regular salary
Yes, a gun will not work without bullets, but when there are more bullets to LOAD the gun, one still must exert caution with a villain
Having your flesh eaten hurts. Also, it glows

Stray Observations
Maybe I was just in a randy mood when watching this film, but there were an awful lot of lines that felt...um...just tell me if I’m reading too much into the following:
“I can assure you we are in for a good pounding.”
“Those tailwinds are still too rough for my ship.”
“Bring me my suitcase. The one with all my *night* things”
The Winning Line
“You’re very practical. And very exciting.”
Fan yourself ladies! We’re agreed that this is the hottest pickup ever, correct?

As much as I enjoyed The Flesh Eaters, the film is definitely still a product of its pre-Night of the Living Dead time. Hence, those with no interest in pre-modern horror may not be as amused. For others--particularly those who enjoy documenting the genre’s evolution--The Flesh Eaters is a fun little slice of history that shows early steps towards gore.

Plus, Strong Island represent!


  1. I know of at least one other movie which involves Long Island and flesh eating.

    Long Island Cannibal Massacre:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0307105/\

    I can't speak to quality of it, as I have yet to see it. But I've seen some of the filmmakers' other stuff. Really over the top, backyard horror movie goodness.

  2. Oh my goodness! How did I not know such a title existed? I owe it to my homeland to watch this one.

  3. The film is also famous for it's bizarre use of Dutch Angles. The best one is where it appears that our male lead is about to eat the other cast members.

    The film is fun and simple & works despite of budget limitations. Plus, they kill a beatnik, so that makes it a winner in my book.

  4. Ooooh, wonder how I didn't catch those angles! That's pretty stellar and makes me think I wasn't so childish to giggle at the unintentional innuendos.

    Silly, silly marked-for-death beatniks...

  5. Practical AND exciting? Whoo, hold me back!