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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Corpse Eaters (1974)

While digging thru the stacks of movies that I’ve collected over the years for this zombie marathon I stumbled on Corpse Eaters. I remember picking it up at a convention, but somehow just never got around to watching it. But it looked like a zombie flick, so I figured it was time to check it out.

The action begins with a helpful warning. There will be upsetting scenes in Corpse Eaters and to make sure those with a weak constitution can look away we will see an audience member turning green. When that happens be warned that something gross is about to happen. After this heads up things move to a mortuary. The owner gets a call about a new “customer” that suffered from a bear attack and the family wants a rush job getting him ready. He chats with his embalmer, allowing the audience a chance to see him at work, and then gets in the hearse for a drive. After a monologue about death the action switches to some kids in a boat.

Okay weird transition but now we watch two couples riding around a lake having a good time. They stop off for some beers and grown up stuff. Yep there are some bewbs involved! Sadly, this only bores them, so it is decided that the four of them will head out to a cemetery for fun? They get there, it rains, they go into a crypt, and one of them does some Satanic shit that raises the dead. You know a normal Friday night… The dead are hungry, and some guts get munched. One of them makes it back to the hospital but dies there. To cover they say it was a bear. Uh oh could it be? It is. The story pops back to the mortuary and some more zombie stuff happens.

The audience warning!
I like this movie but will admit it isn’t good in the traditional sense. I’m a sucker for low budget stuff shot on film. Especially if it has that drive-in feel that I’m always looking for. I could totally see watching this from the front seat of my car as the bottom half of a double feature with something like Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. Not saying that this is on par with that gem. It just has that same early seventies vibe. I would assume that is intentional since this movie came out two years after Children and “borrows” at least one scene from it. In both movies we get to see the zombies crawling out of their graves but the similarities don’t end there.

The grey flaky makeup on the zombies is similar as well. There is even a stabbing similar to the famous trowel kill from Romero’s Night of the Living Dead so we get a reference to the classic as well. We also get a couple pulsing wounds that are pretty well done for the early seventies and the low budget. Much of the gore is implied with sound and things being pulled from just off screen. The gore has a very H.G. Lewis feel to it, which I consider a good thing. For the year this was made it is a pretty bloody flick.

Simple makeup but it works.
The movie is an hour long, though there is rumors that footage was lost. While researching Corpse Eaters for this review I found that it has an interesting history. Made by a drive-in owner it was shown at his drive-in and then sold for distribution. But for some reason it never got released. The only copy of the movie showed up years later and was supposed to be missing scenes. Honestly, I don’t think that matters and might not help it. There is padding here with the voice overs and couples frolicking before the cemetery so what is missing might be more of that. Making the movie longer wouldn’t be helpful.

I can’t give Corpse Eaters an unqualified recommendation. Clearly this was made to copy the things that were popular at the time. Zombies and gore were just getting ready to hit their stride and this is an early entry. It reminds me a lot of another oddball zombie flick, Garden of the Dead. If you dig old drive-in flicks I think you’ll have a good time with this movie. If you are looking for Fulci level gore or Romero storytelling then I’d say skip it.  

© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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