THE FLESH EATERS
The Flesh Eaters buys into the eras fad for Nazi mad scientist films, which also included the likes of She Demons (1958), They Saved Hitlers Brain (1964), The Frozen Dead (1966), Flesh Feast (1970) and Shock Waves (1977), not to mention the fad for sado-Nazi films in the 1970s beginning with Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1974). In this regard, The Flesh Eaters features a wonderful icy and cold performance from Martin Kosleck, a German born actor who himself fled the Nazi regime in the 1930s. (Although, while Kosleck plays with a clipped Germanic accent, the character is confusingly said to merely be an American who was sent to observe the Nazi experiments).
The Flesh Eaters is shot on an undeniably low budget. For instance, Jack Curtis manages to economically contain the entire film to a single stretch of beach and a tent. Curtis does a reasonable job of generating suspense, especially considering the often low-budget means of doing so like the scene where Byron Sanders must rescue a panicking Rita Morley from across a rock rift where the suspense is focused almost entirely on the actors above knee-height and little seen of the rocks they are jumping across. The Flesh Eaters is often remembered for Curtiss gore scenes and these still hold undeniable effect despite splatter cinemas forty years advance the scene where we see the glowing flesh eaters burrowing into Byron Sanders leg; when the boat captain comes to make the delivery to the island, the flesh eaters start burrowing into his face and seconds later we see him gored to the skeleton; where Martin Kosleck feeds Ray Tudor the flesh eaters inside a glass of water and then moments later his stomach starts belching gore; or where Martin Kosleck shoots himself through the eye. There is one shot where we see Ray Tudors corpse tied to his raft mast with his gored skeleton showing through his open shirt but this fails through obvious and grainy opticals of the bared skeleton. There is a reasonable climax with the flesh eaters forming into a gestalt monster, although this is let down by variable opticals and only a semi-effective monster.
You cannot deny that Jack Curtis is a true-bred exploitation director. The opening scene is of a couple on a boat getting devoured by the flesh eaters, where Curtis contrives to play the scene with much focus on the woman (Barbara Wilkin) lying sunbathing with bikinied cleavage protruding into shot. Elsewhere, Curtis contrives many reasons for women to sit with their cleavages semi-exposed or for Barbara Wilkin to whip her blouse off and use it as a makeshift bandage. The Flesh Eaters is a highly entertaining exploitation film one where Jack Curtis has managed to tap all the things that make such films enjoyable gore, luridness, cheesy monsters, shock effect and womens cleavages. It is a shame that Curtis never went on to make any other films.
The Flesh Eaters is also well served by some snappily sarcastic dialogue from Arnold Drake. This is something that gives the film great punchy pace. The film is dominated by Martin Koslecks performance. Amid the rest of the cast, Byron Sanders is wooden and stolid as Murdoch but the character comes to life largely through the dialogue. Ray Tudor gives a bizarre performance as a beatnik castaway who turns up on the island.
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