Martin Kosleck's number was in the Los Angeles phone directory,and I just happened to dial long distance on two occasions in 1982.The man himself answered the first time,and Christopher Drake the second,and between them,I had the opportunity to express my appreciation for "The Flesh Eaters"(1962).Mr.Drake(who also appeared in the film)related the sad news that the director,Jack Curtis,had died in 1970,and that all the filmmakers were justifiably proud of their efforts,though only the distributors saw much of the profits.He added that shooting was done on weekends over two successive summers,which confirms the impression that it was a labor of love.What I never learned until recently,is that the film was shot silent and completely post-dubbed,an amazing feat that is not obvious on first viewing.Rarely offered starring roles(and doing only a dozen features after 1948),Martin Kosleck here gets to play what I consider the most detestable villain in cinema history,and it is clearly his own voice on the soundtrack,done in the same dedicated fashion as the rest of the cast.While the beatnik character of Omar may be off-putting to some,his death scene is my favorite in the picture,as the doctor effortlessly convinces the ninny that they should drink a toast to friendship,which hits "the ever lovin' spot"(Omar's words),unaware that the doc has spiked his drink with a fatal dose of Flesh Eaters(which the audience is clearly shown).Far better written than just a clichéd mad scientist,there is never a point when Kosleck earns any sympathy,even when his death scene is shown to be just as horrific as Omar's.But at Universal in 1944-46,Kosleck was treated like a star,and fondly remembered one in particular,the 1946 thriller "House of Horrors," in which his villainous "starving artist of ill repute," driven insane in clichéd fashion by an unappreciative public,never once loses our sympathy as he induces a spine-snapping killer known as The Creeper(Rondo Hatton)to strike back at his enemies.The top-billed leads,Robert Lowery and Virginia Grey,are such a tiresome,colorless pair of boorish nincompoops(along with all of the big city critics on hapless display),you begin to wonder if Martin's character is written to be the hero! His roles in bigger films like Hitchcock's "Foreign Correspondent"(1940),"Confessions of a Nazi Spy"(1939),and numerous other Nazis were usually small,so it was these "forgotten little programmers" that gave him more exposure and garnered more fan mail.On a final note,he pointed out that the actor he most enjoyed working with was Basil Rathbone,first in 1940's "The Mad Doctor," then 1945's "Pursuit to Algiers." The former was not about your typical mad scientist but a complex psychodrama,with Kosleck snuffing out his share of victims,the latter was one of the last Sherlock Holmes adventures,with Kosleck as another homicidal maniac,whose knife-wielding abilities are negated by Holmes' swift actions.There aren't many left from Hollywood's Golden Age,and there won't be another due to changes in technology,the death of the drive-ins,and the radicalization of Tinseltown.The films will survive the people who made them.
The Flesh Eaters (1964) 720p YIFY Movie
The Flesh Eaters (1964)
A group of young adults trapped on a desert island find the water inhabited by a violent form of flesh-eating organisms.
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Martin Kosleck stars as the most detestable villain in cinema historyReviewed bykevinolzakVote: 9/10
This is an early gore flick and is moderately amusing as both a horror film and unintentional comedy. The dialouge is ridiculous tripe, the actors aren't actually capable of acting, and the character's schemes are chock full of holes but this film manages to pull off some good old school gore (especially the scenes where the mad doctor gets it and the pilot's leg starts to get chewed off. The pacing isn't too bad, but overall this film just doesn't leave much of an impression.
** STAY AWAY FROM THE SPOILERS! TURN BACK! ***
Not loving this movie is like kicking a smiling shaggy mutt. It's impossible to hate a low-budget black and white horror flick that delivers this many thrills and chills. File this one in the "trapped on an island with a monster" sub-genre amongst other non-greats such as THE KILLER SHREWS, TEENAGE ZOMBIES, and MATANGO, THE FUNGUS OF TERROR.
Lunk Armstrong, the All-American hero, (the character's name is Murdock, actually) is bribed into flying soused Broadway actress Laura Winters and her hot assistant Jan Letterman (add appropriate Dave Letterman related giggle here) to Provincetown for summer stock season.
He knew he would regret it! He just knew! But triple his normal rate is not for him to pass up. Sure enough, a bad storm forces their seaplane down to an "uninhabited island" for shelter. Only the place is not uninhabited at all! Aha! The plot thickens!
Pseudo-Nazi scientist (he's Hungarian actually) Peter Bartell is on the island doing what can only be described as very suspicious experiments. Before too long, dead fish wash up on the beach and ole Lunkhead gets some nasty bacteria on his leg (portrayed by burn marks on the film negatives), leading to one conclusion: the ocean is infested with lousy stinking killer microbes that strip the flesh off any living creature!! Lemme outta here!!
Soon enough stupid drunk Laura causes the seaplane to float away (or is something more sinister afoot?) and the stupid gang is all trapped. No radio either. So, we have the professor, the Skipper, the movie star, and the hot young girl. The only thing missing is a Gilligan. But wait! Soon enough an annoying beatnik on a raft with a wind-up Victrola (!) washes ashore, spouting more nonsense than a George Bush press conference. Thank Heaven he's the one who the evil scientist dispatches first.
It all gets only more confusing from there, but suffice to say that soon enough it's Mad Scientist versus everyone else, while the evil microbes fester in the ocean, and his laboratory experiments in a lead pan in the tent soon grow into a giant pulsating crab-brain monster that eats his pet parrot! For some reason he also runs electrical lines from a giant solar battery into the ocean, causing a giant version of the same creature to menace the entire island.
There's lots to talk about here and enjoy for monster movie fans, obviously. A lot of the cinematography is very distinctive and has a very Silver-Age-Comic-Book look about it. They did good work on a small budget. There are some monster effects which are quite good for a low budget film of that time.
But the thing that most people seem to find important or significant about the film is the pioneering use of gore effects, very seldom seen in a film from 1963. There's dead fish, human skeletons, stabbings, and lots of blood. This bad boy is supposedly coming out on DVD sometime in the hear future. I hope it does so; look out for it. It's a nice addition to any collection of drive-in movie horrors. If you don't dig monster movies, you won't like it at all.
UPDATE: It is currently available on DVD as of 2007.