Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Eat Your Skin (1964)

Note:  This is a review reposted from my Epinions account.

I’ve been watching the movies in a nine-title set that I bought years ago.  I’ve noticed that most of them were filmed outside the United States.  One of the exceptions is I Eat Your Skin.  IMDb lists the filming location as Coral Gables and Key Biscayne, although there was some filming done in Miami Beach.  The reason that I bring this up is that I live in the area.  (This pretty much sums up any emotional connection I have to the movie.)

The movie starts in Miami Beach with Tom Harris entertaining the ladies poolside at the Fontainebleau.  He’s a writer that enjoys some level of fame, so there’s always one or two attractive women nearby.  Duncan Fairchild's agent/publisher/boss, decides to stop by to remind Tom that he hasn’t submitted a manuscript in a while.  Duncan thinks that it would be a good idea to go to an island in the Caribbean for inspiration.  (Duncan met some sort of duke or count or something that invited him to the island.)  Tom is a little hesitant at first, but agrees when Duncan tells him that the island has five women for every man.

Joining Tom and Duncan is Duncan’s wife, Coral.  (Coral’s main contribution to the movie is her annoying voice.)  They board a plane, but since Duncan doesn’t have the exact location, they have to waste a lot of fuel looking for it.  They manage to have just enough gas to land on the island’s shore.

Tom goes looking for some sort of help.  Instead, he finds a woman skinny dipping in a lake.  Just then, an Incredibly Fake-Looking Zombie with a machete approaches her.  Tom warns off the woman and has to fight the zombie, who has very good aim despite the fact that the actor’s eyelids are painted over, meaning that he had to keep his eyes shut.  (I wouldn’t be surprised if the scene involved several retakes.)

Fortunately, Tom survives long enough for help to arrive; Charles Bentley, the estate manager, pulls up and offers Tom and the others a ride back to where they will be staying.  Tom asks Charles about some drums he heard earlier.  It turns out that there’s some sort of local voodoo zombie legend, but the exact details vary depending on who you ask.

While on the island, Tom meets the beautiful woman that he saved earlier.  Her name is Jeannie and she’s there with her scientist father, who’s looking for a cure for cancer.  What Tom doesn’t know is that Jeannie’s father has developed a special irradiated venom.  If you inject it into someone, you get a mindless zombie.  Those funding him thought his discovery would be perfect to make an army.  This leaves Tom and the others to fend off zombies while worrying about how to refuel the plane and get off the island in one piece.

I Eat Your Skin is a project that began life titled Zombies.  When someone needed a movie to be paired with I Drink Your Blood, Zombies was renamed I Eat Your Skin and the two movies were released as a double bill.  This explains why there’s absolutely no eating of skin in the movie.

There are a few things that bother me about the movie.  First, the zombies are incredibly fake looking, which I think I mentioned a few times already.  The ‘eyes’ were merely painted on over the actors’ eyelids.  This surprised me for two reasons.  One, I’d imagine that the zombies were tripping all over themselves, thus requiring medical attention.  Second, the eyes looked horrible.

As for the skin, it looked like someone stuck dirt on the zombies’ faces.  It wasn’t laughable, but it wasn’t great, either.  I think the director said, “Hmm… I think that the funny-looking eyes aren’t enough to let the audience know that this is a zombie.  What else can we do?”  Personally, I would have fired the makeup artist if that was the best he could do.

The ending was a bit abrupt.  It was one of those movies that just ended.  It’s like the director realized that they had taken the idea as far as they could and just decided to let the movie end.  At the very least, I would have expected some concern.  Maybe have Duncan and Tom talking about how lucky they were to escape.  I guess everyone deals with almost being killed differently.

One thing I want to mention is that in Coral Gables, there’s a place called Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens.  It only caught my attention because two of the main characters have the last name Fairchild. I don’t know for certain that it has anything to do with anything, but I thought it would be interesting to mention, especially considering that the wife’s first name is Coral.

The movie is watchable, but barely.  The film quality is inconsistent and the script doesn’t really have much to it.  It’s one of those movies that you’d catch on a Sunday afternoon and watch only because you were too lazy to change the channel.  (Not that there was anything better on, anyway.)  I’d recommend skipping this movie if you have a choice.

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