The Flesh Eaters (1964)

Martin Kosleck, Byron Sanders, Barbara Wilkin, Rita Morley,
A group of young adults trapped on a desert island find the water inhabited by a violent form of flesh-eating organisms.
  • 5.8 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Arnold Drake, Writer:
  • Jack Curtis, Director:
  • Terry Van Tell, Producer:

Trailer:

7 / 10

A Minimasterpiece

Truth to tell, I had not heard of this movie until recently, but after reading several laudatory reviews in various film books, and after hearing a coworker buddy of mine rave about it, I quickly put it at the very top of my list of films to rent. And boy, am I ever glad I did! "The Flesh Eaters" (1964), as it turns out, is nothing less than a horror minimasterpiece; a genuine sleeper whose relative obscurity may soon change, thanks to this crisp-looking DVD from the fine folks at Dark Sky. In it, an alcoholic actress, her hotty blonde assistant and their hunky-dude plane pilot are forced to land on a barren island near NY's Long Island, right before a hurricane. There, they encounter a scientist played by Martin Kosleck, who is working with the teensy critters that give this film its name. Kosleck, a German Jew who nonetheless excelled at portraying weasly Nazi types throughout the '40s, is superb in the lead role, but then again, all the actors in this film are surprisingly fine. The film also boasts beautiful, high-contrast B&W photography, utilizing bizarre camera angles and point-of-view shots; some highly effective gross-out scenes; and some truly original-looking monsters, both large and small. The film gets wilder and wilder as it proceeds,and offers some real surprises toward the end. Thus, this little independent shocker is just dynamite, and a real find for the jaded horror fan. It's also suitable for the kiddies...say, from 10 and up. It'll warp them a little, but they won't soon forget it, and will probably rave about it to THEIR coworkers one day...

8 / 10

Inventive visual treat with plenty of bite!

Reviewers have not mentioned the gorgeous cinematography of THE FLESH EATERS, which is the work of the director, Jack Curtis, working under a pseudonym, Carson Davidson. Virtually every scene was shot outdoors in the merciless sun of summertime Long Island, but Curtis's lighting banishes unsightly shadows from the actors' faces; indeed, in many moments the exteriors are shimmering, almost silvery in their beauty. Deep focus and shallow focus are utilized with particular effectiveness. The women in the film are very good-looking, and as captured on film, they appear warm and absolutely delicious.

Another useful note is that THE FLESH EATERS was scripted by comic book writer Arnold Drake (The Doom Patrol, Marvel's Captain Marvel, et al). Arnold storyboarded the film, so every shot has the careful, formalized composition of a well-drawn comic strip. One shot, a sterling example of deep focus, sticks with me: the right profile of the hero dominates the left-side foreground of the frame. In a moment, two or three tiny figures at the far-removed shoreline move left to right, from behind the hero's head, and in perfect focus. Self-conscious? Yes. Striking? Absolutely.

Finally, Curtis & Co. shot THE FLESH EATERS silent, which is NOT apparent.The post-production looping matches flawlessly to the performances, and the voices have weight and presence. (Curtis had experience in the dubbing of foreign films for the American market.)

The gratuitous but not uninteresting Nazi-lab sequence was not shot by Curtis, and has none of the visual beauty of the rest of the film. Its shock value, though, is strong.

I rate THE FLESH EATERS AN "8" not against all films, but against other films of its type. As B exploitation, it is ingenious, nastily amusing, and immensely satisfying.

6 / 10

The Flesh Eaters (1964) **1/2

A pilot, a drunken actress and her female assistant, and a groovy beatnik all get stranded on an island where a German scientist (Martin Kosleck) is conducting experiments involving a strange silvery substance in the water that starts eating the flesh off fish and people. This is a cheaply made film that was shot in Montauk, New York, and saves a lot of money by taking place entirely on the beach (their "island"). But it's still fun and manages to overcome its limitations, and Kosleck makes for a good sneaky villain. The hero pilot (Grant Murdock) is pretty poor as an actor, and provides some laughs and funny lines. The beatnik character is a show in himself, man. Can you feel the love? **1/2 out of ****

7 / 10

Better than you might think...

This film is an updated for the 1960s version of the traditional late 30s-40s mad scientist tale but one with the surprising addition of gore, used very effectively for the time. Martin Kosleck here provides the mad scientist, a Nazi stereotype not uncommon to earlier eras. The Flesh Eaters themselves make for a memorable menace and the early scene with the two swimmers is an excellent bit of film making. The gigantic ones and their showdown with the hero at the end requires much suspension of disbelief but the monsters are also quite nasty-looking which makes for fun viewing if you're into seeing giant monsters. The final showdown actually reminds me a little of the film KRONOS.

7 / 10

"Man! What a way to go!"

Surprisingly effective low-budget horror film about a creep (Martin Kosleck) on an isolated island trying to replicate Nazi experiments with flesh-eating organisms. A pilot transporting an alcoholic actress and her assistant is forced to make an emergency landing on the island and business picks up from there. A good B horror flick with some nice cinematography and special effects that were gory for the time. Despite its budgetary limitations it's pretty neat. Most of the movie takes place in one location, on a beach. Several moments of unintended hilarity, such as Byron Sanders' character talking about his ex ("I actually loved that little tramp.") or every scene involving Ray Tudor's beatnik (I'm comin', my people, I'm comin'!"). Sexy Barbara Wilkin has a nice scene taking off her shirt to help bandage Sander's wound. Tame by today's standards of course. Martin Kosleck is good fun as the mad scientist and the rest of the cast is enjoyable enough. Worth a look even if it isn't going to change your life.