Flesh Feast (1970)

Well, I wasn’t ready for that.

Look, I’m sure most of you have seen a few really low-budget films along the way.  After all, when it comes to science fiction, there are a lot of them out there.

And if you’ve seen a few of these films from the Sixties and Seventies then Flesh Feast is going to seem very familiar.  After all, we have a fairly boring looking film with so-so sound, grainy film, a lot of people standing around talking, minimal action, lots of pretty girls (although the budget is so low there is no nudity and we only get one scene with a girl in a bikini and she isn’t even walking around showing it off), more talk, and, of course, an aging Hollywood legend in her final role.

And, for those of you familiar with the problems of making films on next to nothing, it certainly is suspicious that we’ve got a lot of characters in minor subplots which only involve a few other characters.  That can be so helpful when you are trying to make sure you can shoot on any given day no matter who isn’t available.

Nor do we have much in the way of gore except for a rather bloodless scene of someone removing a leg from a corpse, some badly gnawed body parts hanging in the lab, and…

Well, we’ll get to that.

Now the plot is basic enough, even if it combines several sorts of plots into one story:  we have the reporter on the trail of a notorious gun runner, we have the plucky girl reporter (or agent, it isn’t exactly clear) going undercover in the lab run by the film’s official mad scientist, Dr. Elaine Frederick (played, in her final screen role, by Hollywood icon Veronica Lake), we have the minions of the mysterious commander, who have taken over Dr. Frederick’s house while they wait for her to give the Commader her special rejuvenation treatment, we have a couple of minor subplots involving the other two nurses in the house, and a rather unimpressive romance between one of the nurses and one of the Commander’s hired thugs.

Now the treatment uses flesh-eating maggots to eat away the old skin, so we do get a few shots of what are probably meal worms.  It sounds like the perfect set up for a wonderfully gruesome exploitation film, but the worms just don’t look all that impressive, we only ever see them in a container, rather than on some victim’s corpse, the lab is decidedly lackluster, and we just don’t get the horrific attacks on innocent victims by hungry worms we’re expecting.  In fact, for the most part, they just sit around in the lab unseen.

I suppose, when you look at the plot, Flesh Feast is more of a dull thriller film than a dull horror film, as the maggots are a minor background detail for the various political and criminal plotting going on.

But then…

Well, there is the absurd revelation of who The Commander is (which, yes, a lot of reviewers have spoiled.  But don’t expect to find it here), followed by an absolutely ridiculous final scene, one which left me laughing and shaking my head.

It’s a great silly moment, and if that’s what you hope to find in a Grade Z low budget movie, then you should have a great time with this one.

But you will have to slog through a lot of dull to get there…

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