August 3, 2014
The movie was produced, co-edited, co-written, and directed by Bill Hinzman, who also plays a major role and appears on the cover art. If he appears familiar to you, he should. Bills Hinzman is the original modern zombie. Yes, he was the cemetery ghoul in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. An iconic, albeit brief, role, and one that has permanently etched him into the history books. With this creation, it feels like Hinzman wanted to bring that classic tale to a modern (well, modern in 1988) audience.
How does one "update" the black and white classic to appeal to youth nearly twenty years later? Simple, litter the cast with high school/college kids, toss in some beer and drugs, add ample nudity, and up the gore quotient. Oh yeah, dumb it down. That pretty much sums up FleshEater. This is no replacement for the original (the Tom Savini directed remake would do a better job a couple of years later), but it definitely exploits the source for all it is worth.
The movie opens with a group of kids taking a Halloween hay ride out onto some open farmland where they plan to get into your usual young person trouble. Along the way they pass a farmer working on pulling out a stump. Eventually, the farmer is successful and discovers a cement slab, as he moves the slab he reveals a corpse (Hinzman). The thing opens its eyes and takes a bite out of the farmer's throat. The horror has begun.
The kids have split up to start their individual parties, but before long they are accosted by zombies. With each bite the zombie numbers grow. Before long all but two of the kids are among the undead. The nearby town becomes a target. Young, old, clothed, nude, it matters not as the zombies will bite you. Eventually the sheriff gets a posse together and they start hunting the creatures.
There really is nothing original here. The gore is pretty well done considering the low budget the film was working with. I follows a lot of the same ground Night of the Living Dead does, including having survivors hole up in a farmhouse and having a sheriff lead posse taking potshots at the walking dead (including original Night cast member Vince Survnski). There is one other similarity, but for spoilers sake I will not mention it.
This is not a good movie, but it also is not completely terrible. It is not something I can say I would want to watch by myself, however, with a crowd I can certainly see the enjoyment level increase. The movie is pretty ridiculous, and it looks like Hinzman purposefully put his zombie in a position of groping the naked young women in the cast (crafty fellow, I see what you did there). Also, I think there really is only about 30-minutes of movie here. You will see what I mean when you notice all the ridiculously long scenes of people clearing dirt, hammering nails, staring at windows, and a lot more. They just go on seemingly forever.
Don't go out of your way for this, but of you are in need of a zombie movie to watch with a bunch of friends intent on just having fun, you could do a lot worse than this. The entire thing banks on the familiarity with the cemetery ghoul. You could even look at this as a prequel to Night of the Living Dead, it even fits Romero's lack of a definite timeline.
Posted by Christopher Beaumont at 8/03/2014 05:37:00 PM
Chris has been an avid movie watcher for decades, getting into the writing game in 2004. Since that time he has contributed to a number online publications as well as running CriticalOutcast.com. In addition to movies, Chris is a big fan of music, particularly metal, and will never give up hope on his beloved Mets.