He lived, he died, he's back, and he's hungry!
Year of Release: 1988
Also Known As: Revenge of the Living Zombies
Running Time: 88 minutes (1:28)
Director: S. William Hinzman
S. William Hinzman ... FleshEater
John Mowod ... Bob
Leslie Ann Wick ... Sally
Kevin Kindlin ... Ralph
Charis Kirkpatrik Acuff ... Lisa
James J. Rutan ... Eddie
Lisa Smith ... Kim
Denise Morrone ... Carrie
Mark Strycula ... Bill
Kathleen Marie Rupnik ... Julie
Matthew C. Danilko ... Tony
David A. Sodergren ... Farmer Dave
Tom Madden ... Tractor Driver
David Ashby ... Harv
FleshEater follows the fiendishly destructive path of a not-quite-dead killer one dark Halloween night. Join a group of teenagers as they take the nocturnal hayride of a lifetime in a pulse-pounding, non-stop onslaught of suspense, fright and splattering gore!
FleshEater... this is basically what happens when a B movie actor has a mid life crisis an wants to relive their youth. Apparently nobody ever bothered to tell Will you can't go home again. 'Cept for his Dad, I mean. I suppose you're wondering who could possibly enjoy this one besides all the people that thought Night of the Living Dead was too hard to follow because its plot structure was too complex. Beer distributors, that's who. Cause for the first 15 minutes of the movie we've got nothin' but punk college kids talkin' over the top of each other about beer, beer related accessories, what they did this one time when they had way too much beer, why beer tastes like fermented cat piss an nobody seems to notice, an whether there'll be enough beer to hold them over until they can crack open the next case of beer. An that's not even accounting for the fact that you're gonna need approximately 47 beers if you're gonna have any shot at finishing the movie, an even then that's only 'cause you'll have your pants down around your ankles an be unable to locate the remote control. Kinda seems like all the major brewing companies got a freebie, I really think they aughta do the decent thing an pony up some money for restitution to the Hinzman estate. But I don't imagine anybody's gonna pay me any mind. Usually when I pop kernels of wisdom like that people just look at me like I'm that kid in 2nd grade that liked to eat hair. But anyway, as the best movie ever made by an original Romero zombie to feature the entire volunteer fire department of Volant, Pennsylvania, I still think there's some material here that needs analyzing, even if nobody bothered to analyze the script to see if they couldn't find the plot hiding in it someplace. First of all, a girl can still be "selective" even when she's clearly a slut. I know this not only because the movie features a selective slut, but also because I went to highschool. Second, when zombie hunting, even if you spot somebody walkin' around without flour all over their faces or without any obvious breaches of bodily structural integrity, it's a good idea to shoot them anyway, cause lets face it, no jury in the world will ever convinct you if there's a zombie apolcalypse goin' on at the time. An third, zombies like hearin' about themselves on TV just like regular folks do.
But what I wanna discuss in greater depth is zombie traps. Not traps you'd set with the intention of capturing or killing a zombie, that'd be more along the lines of a Geo Metro an iPhone with unlimited texting. No, what I meant was the use of zombies, securely hidden away by cultists until the time is right. It's simple, yet effective, and the sort of terror you can easily spread even on the smallest of budgets. Terrorists use IEDs, the military uses land mines, crazy women use vaginas, politicians use the filibuster, why shouldn't cultists develop their own method of destroying humanity one victim at a time? It's really pretty clever, if a little high maintenance, and with a reletively short shelf life. And I'll even admit that it might get a little tough to locate your buried zombie trap without top notch map making skills. "Take a left at the tree" kinda directions aren't gonna cut it. You may not have to have a lot of money, but you've gotta take your plot for world domination seriously. The effectiveness and potential for longevity of your plan begins with you, so no foolin' around with this stuff. And of course, for best results you'll wanna make sure to unleash your plague before all the muscle deteriorates an you're left with nothing more than a cannibalistic Calista Flockhart. Not to get off target here, but it might be a good idea if Calista gave that a shot, she could stand to gain 40 or 50lbs so she could at least use box fans in her house without gettin' plastered to the wall. Bottom line, though, zombie traps don't require the kind of time/expertise needed to make a bomb, they're self replicating, and if you don't like your neighbors or in-laws you can use them for the raw materials needed to get the project started. I think some kudos are in order for these cultists, even if they overslept an never appeared in the movie, because as far as I know, they're the only group in cinematic history to develop a truly effective plan for world domination, on a realistic budget. Now, if only the crew had had that kind of imagination.
The movie begins with a pack of rubes from the Butte community college of fine arts gettin' sloshed on Miller No Life, while some industrial arts drop out pulls 'em around on a flatbed with his John Deere approaching speeds of 7 mph. Once they arrive at their camp site, everybody realizes how obnoxious each other is an starts expressing Barney Gumble levels of concern over the beer supply. So the jerk of the bunch (Eddie, he's the kinda guy that likes to yell in your ear when he knows you're hung over) starts tellin' scary stories, only once everybody realizes the story has nothin' at all to do with beer they tell 'im he'd better shut up before they pants 'im an put 'im out in the pasture with all the farmer's calves. While this is happenin', another hick is tryin' to remove a stump with his tractor instead of just usin' a winch so that when the radiator blows like Mount St. Helens he can put it up on blocks an have an excuse not to go home to his wife. But in the process he spots a stone slab with scary un-Christian symbols etched into it, an then another directly below that essentially reads "Don't pry up this rock unless you REALLY mean it". It's like the red button on the control panel in one of those nuclear disaster movies. Underneath is a coffin, so the guy figures it's probably just Al Lewis inside an cracks it open, only Will Hinzman pops out instead an takes a big bite of the guy's neck roast. This is why undeads get such a bad rap for bein' stupid, cause everyone knows the best meat's in the butt cheeks. Back at camp, it looks like we're in the midst of a rotten indie music video bein' shot by fans of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. White people just shouldn't dance, that's all there is to it. Then Lisa opens up her blouse an if you look real hard an pause the movie you can get a look at what could possibly be breasts although I'm inclined to lump this in with videos of Bigfoot and UFOs 'cause it's just too hard to tell. We're talkin' innies here. In any event, tractor guy wakes up with a rumblie in his tumblie an starts headin' towards the sound of bad acting while a pair of the kids takes off to go roll in the hay. At least that's what the girl (Carrie) told the guy (Bill) they were goin' to do, turns out she wants sex instead. He tries to tell her that he doesn't wanna get serious an she gives 'im this look like "shit's gonna get REAL serious if you don't make with the cocking". So he decides he'd better perform his pelvic duty before she tries to Bobbitize 'im, only they don't get very far before Will shows up an pitchforks Bill til he starts sprayin' out vital fluids like a Troy-Bilt lawn sprinkler.
Then Will gets real annoyed with Carrie's uninspired attemps at lookin' concerned an has to root around inside her chest cavity til he finds the only part of the human body tougher than the neck an takes a big bite. Back at camp, the college drops outs talk over the top of each other for awhile so you can't tell how bad the dialog is until they find a topic they can all agree upon; the beer supply. About that time their chauffer comes to tell 'em he's gotta head out now if he's gonna make it home before that test pattern show he likes comes on TV an he's only got about six hours of daylight left. So then they all go lookin' for firewood an Eddie scares the bejezus outta one of the couples, as well as the guy watchin' the dailies cause he knows they took out a loan from the mafia to get this sucker made an they're never gonna be able to pay back what they owe. Elsewhere, the chauffeur can't seem to get his tractor started cause he quits turnin' the key right before it's about to turn over. So he starts lookin' for some blocks to prop the big bastard up on when Eddie shows up to tell the guy they're gonna need a lot more beer if they're gonna make it through the night cause after this case, an the other case, there's only one case left. But then Lisa realizes that with just beer she's not gonna be completely repulsive, so she runs to tell the chauffeur she needs cigarettes too, only by the time she gets there the guy that let Will outta the coffin is chewin' on the chauffeur an she runs as fast as her tar-riddled lungs can carry her. Meanwhile, apparently Lisa's been gone for a "long time", so Tony goes lookin' for her an finds her in the sweet embrace of Will, who's givin' her the nastiest hickey anybody's ever seen. Just as he suspected. She's a whore. Still, Tony clubs Will a few times til he's able to get Lisa free. Will considers tryin' to court Lisa some more but remembers it's rude to talk with his mouth full an pursues them until they reach camp an Tony tells everybody Lisa's in dire need of a trapezius transplant an that they'd better split before Will finishes flossin' the Lisa outta his teeth an heads their way. So Bob an Sally go to find Bill an Carrie (Seriously, if people's names are beginning to run together, watching the movie does nothing to prevent that) while the others head for the nearest hovel. Bill and Carrie prove unresponsive, and hungry, so Bob an Sally run like David Bowie in the "I'm Afraid of Americans" video 'til they reach the farm house. Only by then, Eddie's got a gun. So their dog day's just begun, an he tells 'em they'd better run.
Unfortunately, despite a well executed bandana tournequette, Lisa passes into the big flavor country in the sky. Right about that time, Ralph finds out that Eddie just sent Bob an Sally out for more beer an he's pissed. Ralph doesn't like Eddie's battle tactics at all an takes his gun away while Kim gets on the horn to the sheriff's office. Like most 911 dispatchers, the woman doesn't believe a word of what Ralph says an dismisses the call until there's not much that can be done to aid the situation. Worse still, by now Will's rallied the troops, an they bust in. Will loves it when a plan comes together. All at once, Kim gets jerked out the window, Lisa goes zombie an takes a Steven Tyler sized bite out of Ralph's neck, Will parts Eddie's hair with a hatchet, an Tony gets tag teamed by a couple Marilyn Manson fans, leaving only Bob an Sally, cowering in the basement like event security at a Josh Groban concert. Though I suppose those women are lookin' for a different kind of meat, they're still at least as scary as Will. About that time, the dispatch calls up the sheriff an tells 'im that there was a call a while ago about some murders and an imminent attack an what not out at farmer what's his face's place, but that he shouldn't get too concerned about it. Ya know, if there's time. She'd have called sooner, but she's a government employee an they forbid that level of efficiency. Elsewhere, we're treated to a shower scene so we won't jerk the tape outta the VCR right then an there after watchin' most of the cast get eaten in the first half hour. Meanwhile, downstairs, a mother an her rotten kids are auditioning for parts an the director decides to just use their tryouts in the finished product, but about that time there's a tapping. There's someone rapping. Rapping at their chamber door. So the daughter goes to tell those damn kids to stay off her lawn an finds Will, only he don't want no stinkin' Milk Duds, an goes to work on her face. Then Mom goes to check on her an gets similar treatment... ya know, I'm startin' to think Will just made this movie so he could get really close to a whole lot of women. Anyway, in an unprecidented burst of intelligence in a zombie movie, the son decides to run out the back door rather than trip over the bodies sprawled on the front porch, unfortunately, he's in an ambush situation, an there's plenty of veal for everybody. Then Will goes upstairs an gloms onto shower girl an gets him some breast meat before it gets cold. A little while later, Dad comes home lookin' for dinner an, oh goodness, how ironic. If any zombie movie ever begged the question it's this one; don't they ever get full? I know, you probably think I'm leavin' stuff out. I'm not, it's just one of those "whatever you do, don't slow down an let any plot creep in" kinda movies.
While that's happenin', the sheriff arrives out at Chateau Torgo an the welcome wagon shows up an tries to turn 'im into the chuck wagon. Damn kids, got no respect for people's right to bear arms these days. Well, I shouldn't say that, technically it's still attached, but anyway, he radios for help but, well, you remember the dispatch from earlier in the movie. She's about as much help as Bill Clinton in a truth telling contest. So while sheriff lunch meat's gettin' sampled, Bob an Sally decide to make a break for it an make their way towards the next sign of civilization. Well... ya know, they still don't accept black people as equals an sometimes they spend a little too much time with the sheep out in the wheat fields, but they've got electricity anyway, is what I'm gettin' at. So they sneak up on this guy while he's feedin' his horses, cause they heard startlin' rural folks in the middle of the night is the best way to gain their friendship an not get shot at all. Fortunately he's unarmed, an lets 'em go up to the house to use the phone. And now the news. Over at PNN (Podunk Network News) the anchors are handed a bulletin about zombies comin' up outta the ground an latchin' onto people's pork shoulders. They figure it's probably just a joke, but that's no reason not to read it live on the air. But anyway, about that time Bill an Sally enter the house to find the hick's wife watchin' TV... oh, zombies watching TV, it's art imitating life, I get it, I see what they were goin' for here. That's about as deep as Kelly Ripa's belly button you guys, come on, stoppit. In any event, the guy's wife gets up an the husband, lets call him... oh... I dunno... Haedrig, gives the kids directions to the nearest liquor store an they haul hiney outta there while Haedrig tries to kill his zombified wife an her guests. Still elsewhere, more rhythmically challenged white people (maybe that's redundant) are partyin' like it's 1989. Standard college student stuff, I mean, they're of the right AGE to be college kids, but these are the kinda kids that're about as dumb as a sack of ball bearings, an get rejection letters from community college. So a few more awkward flirting sessions that read like they were written by middle school kids on their Live Journals later, we're treated to catty girls talkin' about how their boyfriends like the other girls better than them just cause they don't sit around an act like catty girls all night. Jesus Christ Will, I know your joints are all stiffened up an you're not as young as you used to be, but get your decayin' ass down to this barn NOW and end this torture. The short of it is, mercifully, Will finally does show up with his troops an they give these horrible acting school drop outs the smorgasbording they deserve. The next morning, a hitherto unseen authority figure arrives on the scene, assembles the B-Team an sends 'em out with nothin' but pump shotguns an instructs everyone to make sure they shoot for the brain. I sure hope you've got slugs in those things, sheriff. On second thought, nevermind, I don't hope that at all.
Alright, I think the quickest simplest way to sum up this movie is this: directed, written, produced, edited, and starring S. William Hinzman. Don't get me wrong, the individual isn't the problem. The problem is trying to have any one human being do all of those things, it doesn't work. It's never worked. Rarely, you'll find somebody that can pull off three of those duties (Rocky II comes to mind), but not FIVE. I also get that this is a budgetary tactic, meaning, if you can do all these tasks yourself, you needn't pay someone else to do them. That is a difficult detail to overlook when you consider the budget was $60,000. That's not very damn much. I think with a bigger budget this movie could probably have achieved a passing grade, although it wouldn't have been a very high passing grade even then. But a bigger budget could have at least allowed for the hiring of better actors, and that's probably the biggest problem this movie has; the acting. We've got some pretty serious Troll 2-esque line reading goin' on here. I set the bar high for a reason, but still, this is treading in areas not too far from the Nilbog city limits. But again, you've got $60,000 to spend on your movie, and while there's no getting around the fact that it's got terrible acting, I must approve of the area in which they allowed their quality to lapse. If you must allow something to fall by the wayside, in a low budget horror movie, you let the acting be that sacrificial lamb. You don't dare do it with the special effects, because those are your meat an potatoes. Still, when you look at other low budget horror movies that were truly great, they still managed to find actors that, while maybe not exemplary, were decent. But I think for the purposes of this particular discussion, "low budget" becomes something that needs to be well clarified. Even the original Night of the Living Dead had $114,000 to spend. And that's 1968 dollars. So really, you're talkin' probably four or five times the budget this movie had. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre had $83,000. And that was in 1974 dollars, so again, probably three for four times this budget. And if you wanna go farther down into the barrel, The Corpse Grinders. $47,000, but again, that's 1971 dollars. Still looking at twice the budget of FleshEater. So just understand that the rotten things I've said, and that I'll probably continue to say in the next paragraph, while true, often times will have arisen because of budgetary restrictions. The truth is, FOR ITS BUDGET, this is not a terrible movie. But unfortunately, I cannot take those sorts of things into consideration when making an ultimate determination about the movie's overall quality.
Oi, alrighty, lets pry open the coffin an see what lurches forth in search of luncheon meats. The plot, by which I mean the backstory, because there is no character develoment of any kind aside from some really poorly written dialog about the degree to which each couple loves, or lusts each other, is almost nothing. There's a couple lines near the end that make it clear that the wooded area where Will Hinzman was buried was the site used by a cult at one time. So Will is their zombie that they buried like pirate booty for safe keepin'. As the great Joe Bob Briggs would say, there's no plot getting in the way of the story with this one. That in and of itself does not sink it. You can make up for that in other areas. But if you don't, it just becomes another nail in the coffin. The acting, as I mentioned, is some of the worst I've ever seen. But I've got an awful lot of these low budgeters that I haven't gotten around to watching just yet, so I know that this sort of thing is not as common as it may sound. Still, it's a shit salad with diarrhea dressing. The who's who can be broken down thusly; with the exception of Will Hinzman, anyone else that ever worked again did so with George Romero, or with Hinzman on The Majorettes and Santa Claws. Observe: S. William Hinzman (Mimesis, River of Darkness, It came from Trafalgar, The Spookshow, Shadow: Dead Riot, Santa Claws, Legion of the Night, The Majorettes, The Crazies 1973, Hungry Wives, Night of the Living Dead 1968), John Mowod (Santa Claws), Kevin Kindlin (The Majorettes), Terrie Godfrey (The Majorettes), Heidi Hinzman (Children of the Living Dead, Monkey Shines, The Majorettes), Lisa Smith (Zombie High), Tom Madden (The Majorettes), Bonnie Hinzman (The Majorettes, The Crazies 1973), Rik Billock (The Dark Half, Night of the Living Dead 1990, Gorgasm), Steven Sands (Surf Nazi's Must Die), Michael Gornick (Dawn of the Dead 1978, Martin), Wild Bill Laczko (Da of the Dead 1985), Vincent Survinski (Day of the Dead 1985, Martin, The Crazies 1973, Night of the Living Dead 1968), Bill Randolph (Vagrant, The Stalking Hand, Hookers in a Haunted House, Bloodscent, Red Lips), Lynn Restad (The Majorettes). If this were a family, the inbreeding would have reached critical mass. Anyway, it's bad an they should feel bad.
The special effects you'd probably have to call decent. Most, are okay. Neither special nor poor. The pitchfork scene, you'd have to call poor, while the heart scene you'd have to call great. I suppose that'll happen when you use a real pig's heart though. Real things tend to look real. Anyway, decent special effects, nobody has any business saying these were poor effects. The shooting locations are probably one of the high points. You've got quite a bit of genuinely creepy on-location shooting in the movie that not only comes across as genuine, but that're also really well photographed. The cinematography, I must also acknowledge, is pretty decent. So that, in conjunction with the well scouted shooting locations, makes for a positive impact. And... the soundtrack. The first thing I'll say about this soundtrack is that I actually do like it. It's a very nice soundtrack. All two minutes of it. They've got three, maybe four extremely short tracks that they use over, and over, and over again. Not since Friday the 13th on the NES has there been ANYTHING with so repetitious a soundtrack ever produced by mankind. It blows my mind that a movie would do this. Particularly when Hinzman's gotta know that a great deal of what made the original Night of the Living Dead so successful (And lets not kid ourselves, he's yearning for his younger years and making something totally deravitive of Night of the Living Dead.) was its atmosphere. And that movie knew when NOT to use music of any kind to enhance that mood. Although Night of the Living Dead actually had a rather terrible soundtrack, to be perfectly honest. So in conclusion, it doesn't hurt to leave music out of certain scenes, particularly when your soundtrack is so short, and with little variation. There's no reason to play it just to be playing it. Overall, this movie's just not very good, much as it pains me to say that about an 80s zombie flick. With a bigger budget they could have done more, but even then, it's pretty poorly written and that would have bogged it down even with more money.