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.
-- Review by Lucius Gore