Flesh Eaters (1964)
Directed by Jack Curtis

Starring Barbara Wilkin Byron Sanders Martin Kosleck Ray Tudor Rita Morley

One of the great lost films of the horror genre, "The Flesh Eaters" came out a few years after H.G. Lewis' "Blood Feast," but has the distinction of having gone into production before that movie. Despite the similar title, this film is in black-and-white and actually boasts an excellent story from former X-Men comic book writer Arnold Drake and surprisingly decent acting and directing.

Square-jawed hero type Byron Sanders plays a small plane pilot who is hired to fly a drunk star and her assistant to an acting gig. A storm, however, forces him to land on a desert island, where the trio run into a sinister-looking scientist (Martin Kosleck, who frequently played Nazis in the '50s and '60s). What they don't know is that in the ocean off the island, a new glowing breed of bacteria has emerged, one that will wipe out the flesh of any living thing that comes into contact with it. The discovery of a dead woman, whose flesh has literally been stripped to the bone, doesn't phase the doctor, who claims the body is clearly just the victim of a shark.

A supply boat captain is partially devoured by the creatures. When a stoned beatnik hippie shows up on a raft, he joins the group fighting to survive against the onslaught of glowing flesh eaters and the obvious ulterior motives of the doctor, who clearly had something to do with the monsters' creation.

Despite dated special effects, "The Flesh Eaters" is a solid horror offering one that blends some of the same sci-fi paranoia of the 1950s with the gory sensibilities that were emerging in the '60s. The script is great, and it's a surprise that Drake didn't write many more horror films, apparently just sticking to comic books for a living.

Director Curtis also never made another film. Buxom hottie Barbara Wilkin, who played the assistant, was in a few other films, including the French "Paris vu par...". "The Flesh Eaters" became a TV horror favorite before fading into obscurity, and to my knowledge never saw a real video release in the United States or anywhere else for that matter. It remains a popular bootleg.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore


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