Flesh Feast

Director: Brad F. Grinter

USA - 1970

Hoff! Hoff!  


For the benefit of those with a short attention span...

Nazi maggot movies are a timeless genre. Add a former Hollywood glamour icon to the equation and you have the formula for a true classic. Well, just short of a classic.  

The Guilty Party

Veronica Lake plays Dr. Elaine Frederick: A scientist who invents a revolutionary youth rejuvenation procedure; the key ingredient: maggots. She’s also romantically-entangled with Karl Shuman, and (cue ominous trumpet fanfare) harbors a dark secret!

Say, it's the Teleport City icon guy!

Karl Shuman: Former underground munitions runner; used to work for Castro until he made the startling discovery that Fidel was a communist (?). Karl now acts as a liaison between Dr. Frederick and her prospective clients, the Nazis.

Ed Casey: Editor of a local newspaper looking to expose the ghastly experiments rumored to take place at the Frederick laboratories.

Kristine: One of Dr. Frederick’s nurses who also secretly doubles as an employee of Ed Casey. When not spying on the good doctor, Kristine works at a nearby hospital where she steals fresh corpses to feed the experimental maggots.

Sharon: Another one of Dr. Frederick’s nurses, she also secretly doubles as an alcoholic. Sharon falls in love with Jose, but sadly, has a weak grasp on the obvious.

Benito Paris: Head of the Hispanic Nazis. Benito is sent to the Frederick compound to scope out the operation before “the boss” shows up. And I’m not talking about Bruce Springsteen.

Star-crossed lovers they're not

Jose: One of Paris’ goons. Jose turns out to be a rather sentimental Nazi, looking to eventually get out of the taxing profession of terrorism and perhaps indulge in a little travel. He quickly falls in love with one of his captives, Sharon.

Armando: Another Hispanic Nazi thug.

Max Bauer: An old Nazi (surprisingly, not Hispanic) who is first to try out Dr. Frederick’s maggot miracle. The procedure turns out to be a success, restoring Bauer to his former youthful vigor. Max doesn’t get to enjoy his newfound vitality for long though, for he is killed by Jose after trying to get fresh with Sharon (killing her in the process). Just like a Nazi, eh?

Hitler: If I have to explain, you should probably watch less MTV and more of the History Channel (or, as MST3K most aptly puts it: “The All-Hitler Channel”).

My "thoughts" on the film. Thinking! Ha!

Before even popping in the tape I had a bad feeling about Flesh Feast. And why, you ask? For the simple fact that it was filmed in Florida – Larry Buchanan’s old stomping grounds. Granted, I can’t generalize every Floridian filmmaker and compare them to the infamous Buchanan but – wait a minute, this is my site, dammit. I guess I can generalize wh"Why, of course you can trust *me*!"o and whatever I darn well please. So from here on in, if the director of any film I see happens to be from Florida, I will immediately assume that he or she has the directorial talent equivalent of Larry Buchanan. So there.

Anyway, as it turns out, my ominous premonitions were unfounded. Though Flesh Feast does have a Buchanan-esque feel to it – incompetent acting, poor lighting, a grainy print quality reminiscent of a snuff film – I honestly think that Grinter makes the best with what he has – and in this case, that turns out to be very little indeed. The majority of the proceedings is shot in Dr. Frederick’s living room and laboratory (i.e. someone’s den furnished with a couple useless machines, some blinking lights, a few beakers, and a table). To say the sets are less-than-stellar would be an understatement. A majority of the actors, for lack of a better word, suck, so it’s not any specific thespian that carries the film’s momentum. (And in all actuality, I probably could have "Nurse, you don't happen to be the one who set my lunch next to the maggot tank, are you?"easily came up with a synonym for the word “suck” – but if it ain’t broke…) The story is nothing extraordinary either, though the finale’s “twist” does provide a good chuckle (especially if, like Sharon, you have absolutely no grasp for the obvious and don’t see it coming). Upon further reflection, I can’t really put my finger on what I actually like about Flesh Feast – but I enjoy it, nonetheless. Maybe it has something to do with my frame of mind when I screened the film. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I just saw Red Planet the night before and the calluses from said experience shielded me from further cinematic pain. Or maybe it was just the bugs. Look! Maggots! Ick!

Obviously, the most fascinating aspect of watching Flesh Feast is seeing Veronica Lake ham it up as maggot-crazy mad scientist. Especially when considering her resume. Though I regularly attempt to stifle my male chauvinist tendencies by not focusing on the aesthetic qualities of actresses in the films I review (it’s quite tough, I’ll have you know), I believe that commenting on Ms. Lake here is pertinent, considering her former Hollywood title from the 1940’s. Anyway, after that long, unnecessary justification, let me just say that the years were not too"That's some roach clip, doctor!" kind to poor Veronica. I mean, she didn’t look particularly bad, per se – she just looked, I don’t know, tired. Really tired. Legend has it  that after many years of film success, Ms. Lake disappeared from the big screen (and perhaps off the face of the Earth) for twenty some-odd years, only to resurface in Flesh Feast, of all things. A strange attempt at a comeback, to say the least. I don’t know – nor is it any of my business – what Veronica had been doing during her film hiatus, but if that haggard appearance was any indication of time spent out of the spotlight, then my heart goes out to her. In all fairness I must report, however, that there was still a little “something” present from Lake’s heyday – a small spark of the glamour she once embodied. You have to look awfully hard at times – a quick flash in her smile, a momentary sparkle in her eyes - but there was some definite charisma just under the surface of the shell Lake had constructed over the many years of self-exile. Be it ever so small, Veronica Lake did succeed in bringing a portion of the star-power she once commanded to this film, easily making her the best part of Flesh Feast.

Oh great, now I’m depressed.

Uncle Ben's Converted Brand Maggots


These are the times of which to cherish...

-         In the opening scene, Ed Casey’s field informant is fatally stabbed immediately after phoning in a report to the paper. Once told of the death, Casey quickly comes to the revelation, “I thought he forgot to hang up the phone…he couldn’t!”

Los Nazis

Hispanic Nazis. Enough said.

Time to make the donuts

         Dr. Frederick’s chauffeur, Hans, takes multi-tasking to a whole new level when he pitches in to help carve up one of the stolen corpses with a hacksaw. Just goes to show, helping is truly job one.

-         The scene where Kristine is sneaking a dead body from the hospital, only to inadvertently run into a fellow nurse who, naturally, has to stop and question her on the strange woman with sunglasses Kristine is pushing in a wheelchair. Light wackiness ensues in a sure precursor to the madcap Weekend at Bernie’s.

Simply... ...amazing!

The amazing special effects! Step aside, Rick Baker! The old man make-up applied to Max Bauer is nothing short of extraordinary. It’s simply amazing what can be done with a seemingly endless supply of talcum powder and just a little wrinkled toilet paper!

*hiccup*  "I'm ready to assist with that biopsy now, doctor."

One of the nurses taking a nip before attending her rounds at the hospital. I know I, for one, will now feel a little more at ease next time I go under the surgical knife.

"Hmmm, nothing strange in here..." "EXCEPT THIS HUGE DANGLING CORPSE!"

Sharon’s uncanny knack for the obvious. 
She wanders into the lab, stands right next to a suspended mutilated corpse, but doesn’t notice said body until about half an hour later. Genius.

She's quite mad, you know Oh stop, you big baby. You act like you've never had maggots on your face before!

During the finale, after placing a variety of killer maggots to Hitler’s face, Dr. Frederick steps back and maniacally laughs, “What’s the matter? Don’t you like my little maggots?” You wouldn’t believe how many women have said those exact words to me!

-- Copyright © 2000 by J. Bannerman

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Check out a clip from this film, along with many others, here!

Yes, I stole this graphic from Freeman



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