FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Apr 4, 2024

Chilling Classics Cthursday: I EAT YOUR SKIN (1971)

Writer/director Del Tenney's Zombie Bloodbath was shot in 1964 and sat unloved on a shelf until exploitation producer/distributor extraordinaire Jerry Gross snatched it up, changed its title to I Eat Your Skin, and put it on one of horror's most famous drive-in double bills alongside I Drink Your Blood in 1971. I Drink Your Blood boasts satanic hippies, Lynn Lowry, contaminated meat pies, and gore enough to warrant the MPAA's first X-rating. I Eat Your Skin boasts...that it was the movie that played alongside I Drink Your Blood.

Writer/cad/Real Man's Man/Clive Cussler wet dream Tom Harris is content with sleeping with every woman in Miami Beach, but his mega-downer publisher wants Tom to get to work on his next novel--and he's got the perfect location to provide lots of inspiration: a remote place called Voodoo Island. As its name indicates, it's an island where people do voodoo. Also there's a scientist set up there, making use of the island's bountiful venomous snake population to help his development of a cancer cure. Oh, and a hurricane wiped away a lot of the island's men, so there are a shitton of women just waiting for a man like Tom to come along and sex them.

Tom, the publisher, and the publisher's shopping-addicted, poodle-toting wife Coral head to Voodoo Island. It doesn't take long before we get our first taste of voodoo zombie; they're crusty-faced and golfball-eyed, but they eat no skin. (Spoiler.) The local white folk, including the scientist and the "plantation overseer" blame it all on drugs. The locals just do voodoo and drugs to have a good time. Maybe they are doing too many drugs and it's causing the crusty faces and golfball eyes and murderous intentions?

That said, the locals (led by Papa Neybo) intend to sacrifice the scientist's blonde, virginal daughter because virginal blondes make for the best sacrifices. The ever-resourceful, ever chest-baring Tom helps out by promptly sexing her.

Long story short, it turns out that the "plantation overseer" was also Papa Neybo, and he wanted a voodoo zombie army so he could take over the world. The scientist, who had been using the local native population as guniea pigs in his cancer research (!), was forced into helping in this bid for world domination. Before he, his daughter, and Tom and cohorts escape the island, the scientist triggers a machine that blows the island up completely, killing the entire local population and causing untold ecological damage. Hooray!

Look, it's not like you can get mad at a dumb movie from 1964 for having dumb 1964 racial and/or gender politics. But I will admit I let out a sigh or twelve during I Eat Your Skin! Not only is it all that *gestures at Voodoo Island* with regard to race, it's also the kind of movie where men laugh as an angry husband starts beating his unfaithful wife, and the women are present to swoon, to be saved, or to be insulted. As a bonus, it's capped off with some decidedly un-ASPCA animal sequences that I fast-forwarded through. 

As I said though, it's also very dumb. It's got a beach blanket horror comedy tone throughout much of it that feels very 1964 and must have been a letdown to drive-in audiences after the technicolor LSD trip bloodbath of I Drink Your Blood. I guess that's where folks went to concessions to get some lukewarm pizza squares, or maybe they started making out (if they weren't already). 

Hmm. What can I say I liked about it? Well, the music from Don Strawn's Calypso Band was good. One zombie carries a box of explosives (you know the box contains explosives because it's labeled EXPLOSIVE) into a moving plane propeller and there's a big explosion, that was cool.

Oh, and there's the sort of Dollar Tree Saul Bass cool opening credits that promised a much better movie than the one we got. Today's post trivia: I pulled the screencaps for this post from Tubi, as the Chilling Classics transfer is, unsurprisingly, trash. In fact, it's also cropped so much that the title screen reads I EAT YOUR SKI. Ski-eating is weird for sure, but admittedly less menacing than skin-eating. Not that this movie features any skin-eating whatsoever, but you know what I mean.

From one of the great double-bills in 1971 to one of the worst in 2005, when Mill Creek Entertainment put it on a disc with the miserable Medusa--wow, what a journey through cinema history I Eat Your Skin has had. And what a journey through cinema history Chilling Classics Cthursday continues to be. Right, guys?


Oh, this is the part of the post where you're all grabbing pizza squares and making out, isn't it.

1 comment:

Riccardo said...

My bad movie group watched this in 2019 and I don't recognize the plot or any of the stills, such is the effect it had on me. My notes from the time indicate that a major gripe was that the mad scientist failed to deliver. A non-memorable mad scientist is a very sad thing for a movie to have, especially a z-grade flick where they probably don't have much else. I guess they can't all be Astro-Zombies (1969), which is terrible, but at least has mad scientist John Carradine giving a master class in making utter nonsense sound interesting.