Perhaps we've gotten a bit too high brow around here lately, what with reviews of classics like Pal's War of the Worlds and the original King Kong. Perhaps it is time to step back a bit from the heady hyperbole and indulge, for a bit, in some junk food.
So. The Flesh Eaters.
Flesh Eaters is a competent little early 60s shocker with some notoriety. A financially strapped pilot agrees (against all sanity or better judgement) to fly a faded, alcoholic film star and her long-suffering secretary through a hurricane, with predictable results. They find themselves stranded on a desert island with a sinister scientist (Martin Koslow), who, as luck would have it, is an ex-Nazi finishing up his work on a failed secret weapon: tiny organisms that swarm and reduce living creatures to skeletons within seconds. Guess who's ready to step up his research to human subjects? There's a fuller review at The Bad Movie Report.
Flesh Eaters is neither good enough to qualify for forgotten classic status nor bad enough to be termed a turkey; it is simply an entertaining piece of melodrama, a good matinee feature, a popcorn muncher in every sense of the word. Enough primitive gore effects are on display to hold the audience's attention, and there is a certain charm in a movie whose budget is so low that the title creatures are represented by holes poked in the film itself. (Perhaps the movie oversteps itself when a star filter on sunlight reflected off water is supposed to represent the same effect…)
If there is an unfortunate paucity in extras (see below), the quality of the film elements go a long way toward making up the deficit. They are in remarkably fine shape, with very minor damage, the sort that goes without notice unless one is actively looking for it. Be warned this is being presented as "The Director's Cut", which means there are are a few changes in this version of the movie. In short, this is not your father's Flesh Eaters.
The menus are of the short that present a bit of footage and a sound clip every time you switch categories. This would become tiresome if one were, for instance, writing a review and had to keep switching back and forth from menu item to menu item. But really, how often is that going to happen?
Fred Olen Ray's Retromedia label had announced a disc of this last year, but Dark Sky Films countered with this version, brokered by an (apparently) earlier deal with the original filmmakers. Given that, you'd think there'd be a bit more in the Extras department here, perhaps an audio commentary, but such is, alas, not the case. It was certainly not to be the case with the Retromedia disc, which had already secured an audio track by film historian Tom Weaver.
What do you do get is two trailers and a segment added by the distributor to the theatrical version for… whatever reasons (this is where the Weaver commentary track is sorely missed) which involves a flashback of Nazi scientists testing their prototype beasties by making naked women jump into a swimming pool. Excised in this "Director's Cut" version, this segment is offered separately, and with outtakes of the various models when they could not jump into the water and still hide their naughty bits. A very brief bit at the end, where the picture blossoms into full color, has similarly gone missing.
Ray reportedly offered his extras to Dark Sky, but was turned down; that is truly unfortunate, as the crap cineaste came this close to a definitive disc of The Flesh Eaters. THIS close.
Dr. Freex, 2/1/2006