Having already done the first part
of the double bill of "2 Great Blood-Horrors to Rip Out Your Guts
", I Drink
Your Blood, I could scarcely go without next reviewing its companion
piece, I Eat Your Skin. One without the other seems somehow...
sacrilegious. Even if the Elvira tape series did choose to release
IEYS as a solo act (and having now seen I Drink Your Blood,
I know why), the presence of one seems to demand at least the mention
of the other.
Auteur Del Tenney made
several enjoyably lame films, including the infamous Horror of Party
Beach and the oddly effective (as I recall, anyway) Curse
of the Living Corpse. Jerry Gross needed a film to pair with
I Drink Your Blood, one that could, by some stretch of the imagination,
be called I Eat Your Skin. That movie surfaced in the guise of
Del Tenney's unreleased Voodoo Blood Bath, originally made in
So I Eat Your Skin
is cut from very different cloth than its sister piece - it's in Black
& White, its attitudes are very early sixties, and it actually
has something of a plot with a halfway logical progression. Which is,
I hasten to add, not to say that it is any good.
author Tom Harris is engaged in his favorite pursuit - reciting verbatim
racier portions of his novels to a rapt crowd of Bikini Babes - when
his agent, Duncan Fairchild, appears, noticeably upset that his meal
ticket has not started work on his next book. Fairchild demands that
Tom come with him on a trip, and the arrival of an upset husband of
one of the Bikini Babes decides the matter. As Tom and Fairchild ride
off in the agent's Rolls Royce, they watch through the rear window and
laugh merrily as the frustrated husband begins to beat the Bikini Babe.
And these are our heroes.
Fairchild explains that
he has found the location of an uncharted island named Voodoo Island
(of course it's uncharted - what map company would print a map with
a "Voodoo Island" on it?). The trip promises plenty of grist
for Tom's creative mill - dangerous fauna, superstitious natives, doctors
working on a cure for cancer, the place is called Voodoo Island,
for chrissakes - but Tom remains uninterested until Fairchild mentions
that a recent hurricane left the island population at a ratio of five
women to each man. Tom immediately agrees to go. Did I mention that
these were our heroes?
accompanying them is Fairchild's wife, Coral. When we first meet Coral
at the airstrip, she is standing next to a mountain of luggage and two
standard poodles - oh no, your mind shrieks to itself, not
another "zany" blonde! But alas, it is true. Coral will
attempt to make us laugh throughout the proceedings, with only slightly
less success than Roseanne singing the national anthem. Coral makes
Virginia Mayo's odious character in Castle
of Evil look like Madeline Kahn.
prove to be somewhat off and the plane runs out of gas, necessitating
an emergency landing on Voodoo Island's beach. Tom goes looking for
civilization, and, being the hero, immediately stumbles upon a woman
skinny-dipping in a river. He also stumbles upon our very first zombie,
who is apparently stalking our nude young lady.
A word about the zombies: their makeup
is, to put it simply, quite amazing. Their faces appear to be covered
with dried oatmeal, with bug eyes that frequently appear to be painted
directly onto the oatmeal. How these guys can see to walk around (frequently
with machetes) is beyond me.
Tom warns Nekkid Girl,
who swims off. He then finds Tomas, a native fisherman, who agrees to
take him to the nearest White Man. Tomas also informs him that the drums
we hear constantly in the background mean that there will be a sacrifice
tonight. Tomas does not get to spill any more beans, however, as Oatmeal
Face crops up and whacks off his head with a machete. Tom nearly loses
his noggin, too, except that the Local White Man Overseer, Bentley,
shows up with some armed guards and chases away the cereal-faced killer.
Bentley takes our crew
to the doctor's compound and explains the zombie away as some guy abusing
experimental drugs stolen from the doc's lab - or something like that.
An expert on the local religion, Bentley also assures them that the
local version of voodoo is quite harmless. Tom finds Nekkid Girl - now
quite clothed - playing the piano, and finds she is none other than
Jeanine Billedeaux, the doctor's daughter. While the Fairchilds attempt
to completely drain the liquor cabinet, Tom and Jeanine go for a walk
and an incredibly sudden embrace, which is interrupted by a bunch of
zombies trying to kidnap Jeanine.
let's try to make this as painless as possible. Some white guy dressed
as a voodoo god, Papa Negro, is calling the
shots with the native populace. Dr. Billedeaux is doing work with radioactive
snake venom, which, when injected into otherwise normal people, turns
them into indestructible oatmeal-faced zombies. Bentley is Papa Negro,
intending to sacrifice Jeanine to consolidate his hold over the recalcitrant
doctor (a rather ill-considered bad guy ploy, all things considered).
Our heroes try to escape in the newly
gassed-up plane, but that idea is cut short by a zombie carrying a case
of TNT (computer gamers will recognize this ploy in 3D Realms' Shadow
Warrior). The women get captured (don't get your hopes up - no harm
will come to the wisecracking blonde), Tom shoots Bentley, Dr. B sets
his nuclear reactor on overload, and Voodoo Island blows up, destroying
all the zombies and an entire population of innocent natives. The End.
Possessing the second
slot in the double feature, I Eat Your Skin was
the make-out feature, so very few people, I think, actually bothered
to see it. The acting isn't necessarily terrible, but neither is it
great. The most uncanny thing about the cast is that the alcoholic agent,
Fairchild, bears a striking resemblance to Kyle MacLachlan at age 50.
Coral, unfortunately, at the proper angle, bears a striking resemblance
to Rowan Atkinson, except that Atkinson is actually funny.
One thing I will saw
for Tenney: The voodoo rituals are actually pretty good, and even realistic
to a point. The soundtrack, when not filled with voodoo drums, is of
the Ultra-Lounge lite jazz variety, especially when Tom is on the make,
which is nearly constantly. Also damaging the cause are a couple of
transformation scenes, which are in the Lon Chaney Jr./wolfman style:
the actor lies on the floor while the camera lap-dissolves as progressively
more oatmeal is layered on his face; eventually, somebody paints eyes
on the oatmeal, and presto! We have a zombie.
As Voodoo Blood Bath
was made a full four years before George Romero codified cannibalism
into the zombie mythos with Night of the Living Dead, no skin
is actually eaten during the course of the movie. As far as that goes,
the promised blood bath never develops, either... odd, since Tenney
didn't exactly shy away from the gore in his other two efforts. This
film goes beyond disposable into the utterly forgettable; there was
a reason it wasn't released for seven years. In the final analysis,
the double bill of I Drink Your Blood and I Eat Your Skin
works far, far better as a concept than it does as a reality.
But then again, what