CORPSE EATERS (1974) – No, not The Brain Eaters and not The Worm Eaters, both of which are real movies, but Corpse Eaters without any “the” in front. This 57 minute wonder actually manages to overstay its welcome, believe it or not, which is just as well because the similar low-budget film Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things did everything better than this film does.
The people behind Corpse Eaters know JUST what horror fans want to see … water-skiing and plenty of it! This baby takes the concept of padding to the next level with interminable footage of two couples having a great time boating and otherwise whooping it up at lakeside. I’m not old enough to have ever sat through a suburban family’s hellishly boring home-movies but thanks to this film I can experience it as if I was alive back then! Sweeeeet!
The aforementioned lakeside footage comes after the audience is treated to several loooong minutes of a mortician and his assistant talking about what a creepy job they have. Then it’s on to our “stars” if that isn’t too strong a word for them. The frolicing couples note that it’s Friday the 13th and decide to spend the night in a graveyard just for the heck of it.
While they’re doing so rain forces the quartet to seek shelter in a cobweb- heavy mausoleum where the dead are brought back to life when our heroes foolishly invert a crucifix and make with some Satanic chants. (What strange parallel universe do the young couples in horror films come from? And why do these dorks say “Santanist” instead of Satanist?)
Zombies with obvious skin-lines where the makeup leaves off attack the two couples and devour one of the women, accompanied by what sounds like audio of a dog scarfing down its dog chow. The other three escape but one of the young men has been bitten by the zombies so we all know where this is going. The bite victim is driven to the hospital where the movie’s director gets up-close and personal with random hospital equipment and furnishings. This goes on for so long I seriously wondered if he just forgot the camera was rolling or something.
While waiting for word on their male friend the remaining couple begin making out on a hospital bed but are interrupted by badly made-up zombies who look more like aliens than walking corpses. The woman turns into a zombie herself at one point and there are poorly lit and poorly filmed scenes of zombies munching on living bodies as well as on corpses (hence the title). All the madness at the hospital turns out to have been just a dream anyway so don’t bother trying to make sense of it.
Next thing you know the bite victim is dead and we are reintroduced to the mortician from the beginning of the film. He preps the bite victim’s body (none of the names of these faceless characters even register) for its funeral but it comes to life hungry for some flesh of its own to chow down on.
Corpse Eaters is so low budget it’s one of those films made without post-production sound-synch. The camera is almost never on whichever character is talking, just like in so many Doris Wishman flicks or in the black & white cult bomb The Beast of Yucca Flats. This means we get dialogue that often confusingly seems like voice-over narration and v.o. narration that makes it seem like an unknown character is suddenly conversing with the actors.
Those actors, though seemingly fairly young, all have Mom and Dad bodies so even the makeout scenes don’t capture the viewer’s attention. The acting on display is on a level with that shown in 1940’s educational shorts and the rock music on the soundtrack is goofy and unmemorable.
What this Canadian film lacks in competence it more than makes up for in cheap gimmicks, most notably a “gag warning” that pops up to warn viewers when a gory scene is about to unfold. This gag warning is a picture of a man (no doubt a critic reviewing this film) about to barf into the handkerchief he’s holding up to his mouth.
Another gimmick is not one, but TWO heavily blood-soaked scenes that turn out to be dream sequences during the aforementioned hospital interlude and the final gimmick is an illogical twist ending in which the innocent funeral-home owner is strait-jacketed and confined to an insane asylum after he is mistakenly believed guilty of all the mayhem the zombies in this film caused. There’s no way the carnage could have been caused by any one human being, but what the hell? After Night of the Living Dead every horror film back then was expected to have a downbeat ending, even if it didn’t make sense.
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