The Bad Movie Report

I Eat Your Skin

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I Drink Your Blood/ I Eat Your SkinHaving 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 That movie surfaced in the guise of Del Tenney's unreleased Voodoo Blood Bath, originally made in 1964.

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.

Ne'er-do-well best-selling author Tom Harris is engaged in his favorite pursuit - reciting verbatim Ha ha!  Domestic abuse is funny!the 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?

AShoot me!  Shoot me now!lso 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.

Fairchild's coordinates 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.

And this is the best-looking one.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.

Well blahdy-blahdy-blah, let's try to make this as painless as possible. Some white guy dressed asPapa Negro. 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).

Dynamite totin' zombies!  Them was the days!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 Kyle and Rowan:  the shame!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 upLike I said, the other one was better looking. 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 doesn't?



My guts? Definitely not ripped out.

- April 26, 1998