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  Flesh Feast Maggot BrainBuy this film here.
Year: 1970
Director: Brad F. Grinter
Stars: Veronica Lake, Phil Philbin, Doug Foster, Harry Kerwin, Brad Townes, Martha Mischon, Dete Parsons, Heather Hughes, Dianne Wilhite, Yanka Mann, Craig McConnel, Chris Martell, Bill Rogers, Otto Schlesinger, Eleanor Vale, Kay Tremblay, Bill Kuhn
Genre: Horror, Trash
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: An investigative reporter arrives at Miami airport and heads straight for the payphones, as he has big news to share with the editor of the newspaper there, Ed Casey (Phil Philbin). He has been researching the activities of Carl Schumann (Doug Foster) down in South America where there have been dodgy dealings going on, but the reporter is unwilling to say more over the telephone, and when Ed makes a plan to meet him to find out more, he thinks it is odd that he never hung up before breaking off their conversation. What he does not know is the journalist has been stabbed to death in the cubicle, and Ed now has proof of a major conspiracy on his hands...

Flesh Feast almost was not released at all, but thanks to its star Veronica Lake bringing out her autobiography around three years after it had been shot, the footage was assembled for a cash-in release in 1970 which played in some places as late as 1983. One cannot imagine the disappointment horror fans would have suffered in the eighties when they settled down to a movie with a title like that and were faced with seemingly endless scenes of anonymous regional actors (this was a Florida production) sitting about chatting in equally anonymous rooms. But it was Lake who was the main attraction, and not for the best of reasons.

It was some time after her nineteen-forties heyday, and though she was still in her forties when she made this, getting a producer credit for her trouble, she looked twenty years older as alcoholism had taken its toll. She appeared passably like herself in long shots, albeit dressed as plainly as possible, but those closeups were rather more unforgiving, and even in the prints circulating now in dreadful condition it's possible to see this once-beautiful woman had been beaten down by life. There was nothing good to be taken away from this, no joy that she was able to make another movie before her premature death at fifty in 1973, simply a sadness that it had all gone so badly wrong for her.

Still, there were flashes of the personality she had exhibited in her most famous roles, even if they were clouded by her history of mental health issues, and there was a certain morbid curiosity in watching her play a scientist who has been researching a new strain of maggot that will rejuvenate the bodies of those they "feast" upon. This was purely an excuse to show maggots wriggling around in lieu of any special makeup effects that might have rendered this more interesting and depended on how scared you were of the little critters; it might make some anglers think of how they could be better spending their time instead of seeing this. But it was the ultimate patient she would work on which gave the movie its punchline, something you may be able to guess by the references to South American hideaways.

Who was purported to have escaped to South America? That's right - Nazis! And in a twist that Quentin Tarantino may or may not have been inspired by, the final sequence exacted a terrible revenge on a distinctly high-profile member of those defeated World War II antagonists, which was almost, but not quite, worth hanging around for, given that Veronica's last line ever spoken in a movie was beneath even her at that impoverished stage in her life. The director here was Brad F. Grinter, who would be best known to bad movie buffs as the man who brought turkey monster Blood Freak to the screen shortly after, and in a lesser way, for the two obscurities he made on the subject of his real passion, nudism. Nobody was nude here, it was simply relentlessly tiresome conversation and amateurish framing with the occasional leg-sawing and that ridiculous ending. Not every major star gets to go out on a high, in fact few do, but this had to be one of the most depressing of comedowns.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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