USA. Dir. Bill Hinzman
Full disclosure – I watched this film for one reason and one reason alone — there’s a Dave Sodergren in the cast. That may not sound like much to you, but we Dave Sodergrens are few and far between, and we gotta support each other, dammit. I’m sure somewhere in Pittsburgh, Flesheater’s Dave Sodergren is reading my novel The Forgotten Island at this very moment.
Hey Dave, hope you’re enjoying it.
Flesheater is a labour of love. It’s a goofy, low-budget regional zombie flick that has one selling point — Bill Hinzman. Hinzman played the graveyard zombie in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, and boy oh boy is he not going to let you forget that. Here he is, twenty years later, with the same clothes on, playing exactly the same character. I say character, but really there are none in Flesheater, just a lot of cardboard cut-outs decked head-to-toe in denim and plaid.
It doesn’t matter.
Hinzman, who also wrote, edited, produced and directed the movie, has one thing on his mind.
Blood and boobs.
Wait, that’s two things. Dammit, Hinzman!
We begin with a shot of a tractor slowly trundling across the screen. It goes on forever, but thankfully this does not set the tone for the movie, which is comically fast-paced. A bunch of kids disembark, looking like they’ve taken a wrong turn on their way to a denim convention, and proceed to do what kids do, which is drink beer, make out and dance in the woods to rollicking barroom boogie-woogie on the radio.
‘Why don’t you ever kiss me like that?’ asks one bubblehead to her boyfriend.
‘Maybe if you had tits like her I would,’ replies the charmer. Ah, the mysteries of love!
Everyone looks exactly the same, so when Hinzman’s zombie rises from the grave for no reason and starts bumping them off, it’s impossible to care. But when you’re ten minutes into a movie and half the cast are already dead, you know you’re in for a good time.
The barn scene is a particular highlight. We get a wonderfully limp and passionless sex scene, followed by a pitchfork impalement and a woman having her heart ripped out of her stomach. Guess anatomy wasn’t Hinzman’s strong suit.
We also get the first instance of a disturbing recurring theme. 52 year-old Hinzman writes himself a scene where he straddles a woman and rips her top off. This is the first of many times this will happen throughout the picture, and it never stops feeling creepy.
The remaining kids head to a farmhouse in (y’know, just like in Night of the Living Dead! You remember!) and proceed to board up the windows in what feels like real time. Sadly, they don’t do a great job of it.
Maybe board up the open-half first, guys.
By this point nearly everyone is dead, and I have to applaud Hinzman’s sheer sense of nihilism. I’m also 100% on board with what’s happening, aided immeasurably by a propulsive, driving piano and drum based score by Erica Portnoy that never lets up throughout the entire movie. Okay, so it’s just the same five minutes on an endless loop, but you won’t hear me complaining. For such a low-budget endeavour, the effects are pretty good too, and there’s no shortage of them.
We’re running out of people to kill, so Hinzman decides to just abandon story altogether and string together a bunch of mental zombie-attack sequences, introducing families and policeman just to kill them off with some show-stopping gore effects. We also get our second instance of Hinzman attacking a young girl, this time ripping off her towel and biting her nude body.
Jeez Bill, give it a rest already.
Just when you’re beginning to tire of the non-stop barrage of flesh-eating, we cut to a party in a barn. Did I mention this film is set on Halloween? That explains why this is the second movie I’ve covered for Kendall Reviews that features a character in a chicken-suit (Bates Motel is the other one, chicken-suit fans).
Now this is my kind of party. Everyone is dancing to doo-wop music, there’s a drunk Dracula (Drunkula?) moping in the corner, and a guy in a blue karate suit snogging a cheerleader.
It’s the pinnacle of late 80s bad parties, and sure enough Hinzman and his zombies gatecrash. Can you guess what Hinzman does to the cheerleader before killing her?
If you guessed ‘rips her top off’, congratulations, you win a coconut.
Flesheater, known in the UK as Zombie Nosh, has a bad reputation. Sure, it’s slow, cheap, cheesy and sleazy, but it’s also determined to entertain at any cost. Fans of Italian schlock like Nightmare City will lap up the breakneck pacing and frequent zombie attacks. Meanwhile, Romero devotees can enjoy the callbacks to the classic zombie trilogy.
In addition to Hinzman, we get Michael Gornick reprising his Dawn of the Dead acting role as the voice of a reporter on the radio, and there’s a brief appearance from Vincent Survinski. Survinski played one of the members of the posse from the climax of Night, and here plays the same part.
It’s all one big family affair round these parts.
So if drunken Dracula’s, perverted middle-aged zombies and kids in double denim dancing to doo-wop sound like your cup of tea, then you could do a lot worse than checking out Flesheater.
David Sodergren lives in Scotland with his wife Heather and his best friend, Boris the Pug. Growing up, he was the kind of kid who collected rubber skeletons and lived for horror movies.
Not much has changed since then.
His first novel, The Forgotten Island, was published on October 1st 2018 to critical acclaim. Up next is Night Shoot, a brutal throwback to the early 80s slasher movie cycle has just recently been released.
He has several more books in various stages of development.
You can follow David on Twitter @paperbacksnpugs
To find out more about David please visit his official website www.paperbacksandpugs.wordpress.com
Find David on Instagram here
A group of desperate student filmmakers break into Crawford Manor for an unauthorised night shoot. They have no choice. Their lead actress has quit. They’re out of time. They’re out of money.
They’re out of luck.
For Crawford Manor has a past that won’t stay dead, and the crew are about to come face-to-face with the hideous secret that stalks the halls.
Will anyone survive…the NIGHT SHOOT?
A delirious homage to the slasher movies of the 1980s, Night Shoot delivers page after page of white-knuckle terror.