Flesh Eaters charms as well as it shocks.
Thursday, September 20, 2001
Flesh Eaters was produced by the independent, Monterey-based Labcoat Productions and filmed entirely in Monterey County. The film, co-written by co-director Shane Dallman and producer/director Christo Ropollo, features primarily local performers who deliver extremely... ahem... stylized characterizations. Most audiences won''t be tempted to suspend their disbelief--but that's hardly the point for this kind of movie. What''s important is that the story and performances more or less hang together while taking us from one shock to the next. In that, Flesh Eaters is successful and, with the right distribution, could reach a following.
In fact, according to Dallman and Ropollo, the film gathered quite a few kudos from other horror directors and fans when they sort of officially snuck the film into the Fangoria convention in Pasadena last month.
This Flesh Eaters is itself a remake of the 1964 cult shocker directed by Jack Curtis, starring Martin Kosleck as a demented Nazi scientist (is there any other kind?) who is messing around with some pretty strange evolutionary experiments. Although you can find the movie online through Amazon.com, et al, you won''t find it on any local video store shelves.
Here, local actor/dancer David Hoskin gives a memorable performance in the role of the mad Nazi, Professor Bartell, who is the lone surviving researcher working on a nearly deserted island. Seems that during World War II some Nazis discovered an alien larva (egg?) preserved in a pool of virgins' blood inside an Egyptian sarcophagus. One way or another, the larva thing has been brought to this island, where a team of researchers has succeeded in stimulating the thing into life--or rather lives: By the film''s opening, the sea is swimming with so many of these nasty flesh-eaters that the waters are devoid of any fish. But mad science cannot be thwarted in its zeal to accelerate the creatures' evolution, and there is a ready supply of human beings just across the water on the mainland.
As the film opens, a couple on a pleasure cruise decide to take a dip in the ocean. By the time they make it to the island, the husband is little more than an oozing blob of gunk and his gratuitously bare-breasted wife is swiftly on her way to joining him. (Remember the word "gratuitous:" You can apply that to almost any description in the rest of this review.)
The body of the story revolves around Grant Murdoch (Aaron Hall) a shady boat-owner who has been hired by bitchy actress Laura Winters (Lisa Estabrooks) and her assistant, Jan Letterman (Susan Angier) to take them to some other island. But when Murdoch''s unreliable boat breaks down, they wind up as guests of Professor Bartell. Later, Omar (Cole Holiday), aka "DJ Big Booty," arrives. Without going through too much detail, suffice it to say that only two characters make it off the island alive--and they''re pretty battered.
As befits the shock genre, there''s gore galore--lots of spurting arteries, oozing wounds and putrefying flesh. Of particular note is a sequence in which Bartell watches the film of an earlier "experiment," where a young, ultimately bare-breasted runaway is fed/mated to the evolving monster. After chaining her into an S&Mish chair, Bartell cuts out her tongue (I think) and feeds it to what looks like a sort of radioactive coffee cake. This taste of flesh apparently stimulates the creature into action: Suddenly there are flailing tentacles slapping the girl, and we watch as she slowly disintegrates into a gruesome puddle of gelatinous goop and bones. This and other scenes would be a lot harder to take if the film were not filmed in black and white as an homage to the early films in the shock genre.
According to Ropollo and Dallman, Flesh Eaters was filmed for about $90,000--less than a pittance by today''s standards. But, despite its low budget, it''s a surprisingly polished movie. Yeah, it''s cheesy. Very cheesy. Very, very cheesy. But there''s something charming about it, too. This is not the kind of movie I like... but somehow I kinda like this one.
Flesh Eaters... (* * 1/2 )
Directed by:Christo Ropollo
Starring: Starring: David Hoskins, Aaron Hall, Susan Angier, Lisa Estabrooks, Cole Holiday, Mike Robbins
Where: Osio Cinema
When: Saturday only, 8pm and midnight