I Eat Your Skin, 1964
The title, infamously, was applied to this movie because the producers needed something that could be, by some stretch of the imagination, given a title to go on a double-bill with the movie they had in the can, I Drink Your Blood. So they decided on this title, then went searching for a movie.
They found it, sort of, in this little pseudo-zombie thriller from the early 1960s, made by the fellow who gave the world The Horror of Party Beach. For some reason — and if you’ve ever seen The Horror of Party Beach, you probably have a very strong suspicion of what that reason is — this flick had never been released.
So how bad is it? I’ll say this much: it is not as aggressively silly as its auteur‘s aforementioned freshman effort. Not quite. On the other hand, it is reasonably entertaining, gloriously sexist in a way that only an early-60s movie could be, and if nothing else, gives male viewers a plethora of pulchritudinous pets parading for our appreciative perusal.
Then there’s the oatmeal-faced zombies.
The fact that this is, essentially, a zombie movie, but pre-Romero (at least in its making, if not in its release), makes it interesting as well. Because while voodoo is definitely part of the storyline, the zombies themselves exist because of non-magical causes.
I Eat Your Skin opens on a voodoo ceremony involving a smoking hot babe gyrating around in a bikini, then kneeling down before a priest with a sword. She winds up head to head with a goat. Camera pans up, sword cuts down out of frame, and then we get the credits.
That opener didn’t really have anything to do with anything. Oh, we’ll see the participants in the ceremony again (excepting the girl), and it serves as confirmation of what we later here, that the “natives” of the island practice human sacrifice. But the opening scene does not actually impact the story, such as it is, in any way.
But, as it features a fulsome lass showing off her natural talents, you’ll get no objection to it out of me. 🙂
The movie proper opens at The Fontainebleu in Miami, where a writer is reciting a tawdry love scene from one of his books to a gaggle of bikini-clad ladies. He kisses one especially, and his agent shows up nagging him to get writing his next book. What the agent is really about is wanting to take his client along to an uncharted (?) island he just inherited. The writer decides that going is a really good idea when the husband of the woman he was just macking shows up, less than entirely thrilled that his wife’s loyalty is more a matter of theory than practice.
The natives of the island practice voodoo, as we learn in exposition, but are supposedly harmless.
Since the island is uncharted, the plane misses it until it is almost out of fuel, forcing an emergency landing on the beach. (This scene was clearly created in the editing room, with sound effects, to mask the fact that they did not have the budget to actually film anything dangerous. It works reasonably well, too, I must say.)
Writer Hero Guy (what, you want me to look up the character’s name?) goes off in search of help, and stumbles across a skinny-dipping caucasian honey. He warns her off of a zombie, then continues on. Then he meets a native farmer who offers to help, but they are attacked by an oatmeal face, who (graphically) beheads the farmer. Then the supervisor ((The actor looked incredibly familiar to me. He turns out to have played Ethan Edwards’s brother in The Searchers. )) of the island shows up with some security men, and convinces Writer Hero Guy to come out of hiding.
As it turns out, there is a scientist working on the island who is trying to use snake venom to cure cancer. He also has some kind of mini nuclear reactor in his lab, which factors into the cure in some unexplained fashion.
The cancer cure, of course, turns out to be the cause of the zombie-ism on the island, and in the end, all the good caucasians (less the evil supervisor) escape the island just as the mini nuclear reactor vaporizes all the natives and zombies and whatnot.
The zombies, as mentioned, have really odd make-up. It looks like oatmeal is smeared on their faces, and they all have fake eyes that might very well be ping-pong ball halves with pupils drawn on.
All in all, it’s a fairly dumb movie, but it has pretty girls in scanty clothing. Even apart from the ladies, it is amusing to some extent.