I Eat Your Skin

Zombies, va-va-va-voom!
★★
☆☆
Released: 
1964
Director: 
Del Tenney
Starring: 
William Joyce, Heather Hewitt, Betty Hyatt Linton, Dan Stapleton, Don Strawn's Calypso Band
The Setup: 
Playboy novelist goes to the jungle, where he finds the walking dead... and girls, Girls, GIRLS!
Discussion: 

This little relic is a classic drive-in B-movie in every sense, though from the swingin' 60s rather than the paranoid/sci-fi 50s. It opens with a VERY nice credits sequence featuring stylized black and white woodcut-like drawings of African figures, wherein we find out that this film features the musical and thespic talents of Don Strawn's Calypso Band. Which is, of course, SO delightful.

So soon enough we're introduced to our hero, Tom Harris, who is a studly playboy novelist [no, not novelist Thomas Harris, the distinctly non-studly, non-playboy author of the Hannibal Lecter books]. This immediately dates the movie as being from the time when it was NOT ludicrous to consider a novelist to be a studly playboy. Apparently this whole thing is an attempt to ride the coattails of Goldfinger, as the opening and close of the movie take place in the hotel that parts of Goldfinger were filmed in. Too bad no one told the filmmakers that audiences don't come to movies to reconnect with their favorite real estate.

So anyway, the point of view of this movie, which holds all women as wanton vixens just crazy for cock, until the moment they get married, whereupon they immediately transform into shrill harpies, kicks in as soon as a jealous husband of one of the women transfixed by the studly novelist comes to retrieve her, leading to a long scene of fully-dressed-people-falling-into-a-pool "comedy." Don't you think it is just so hilarious when fully dressed people fall into a pool? Boy, I sure can't get enough of that. Cracks me up every time! Especially when-oh, I can't stand it!-they're trying to climb out of the pool, and they slip and fall back in again!

Anyway, immediately after this, we see the novelist and his editor drive off as the now-wet husband KICKS HIS WIFE REPEATEDLY AND BRUTALLY IN THE ASS as she walks away. Apparently this is supposed to be funny and acceptable, as our hero the novelist and his editor have a good chuckle about it. Then the editor tells the novelist that they're going [right that very second, by the way] to some remote island, so that the novelist can be inspired with some new ideas. The novelist refuses until he is told that there are "girls" on the island. "Virgin natives," the editor says, "just waiting for some sophisticated swinger like you." I LOVE the whole concept that virgin natives. women who have may never have SEEN a white man, have an entirely different concept of courtship and sex, and have NO conception of the continental lounge lifestyle, let alone what a "swinger" IS. are in fact sitting around yearning for some swingin' novelist in the Hugh Hefner mold to swing by. Next up: the desire-ridden dames of Darfur!

At the airport they meet the editor's shrill yenta wife and her two yappy dogs, who will provide laughs [or a reason to tear at your hair] over the next 20 minutes with her intensely annoying commentary and shockingly inappropriate comments, before she drops out of the movie altogether. Anyway, their plane runs out of gas [which pretty much makes them idiots, but this issue is not addressed] and they crash on the beach of the very island they were looking for. Our novelist wanders off into the woods for some reason which I do not recall, where he is almost immediately attacked by a machete-wielding zombie with dried oatmeal all over his face and big bulging white eyes that look like bits of cardboard glued to his face. There is a lot of hugger-mugger, then the novelist runs off into the jungle, with the music all sinister and tense because of the lurking zombies. Then he suddenly turns his head and sees a [white] woman bathing under a waterfall, and suddenly the music changes to swingin' 60s music, complete with horns going "Bwah-wah-wah-WAH-wah!!!!" and all. I tell you, the music is among the best things about this movie.

This would be the local mad doctor's gorgeous daughter [which, as a mad doctor, he is contractually obligated to have], named Jeannie. They, the editor, and his wife, have a hilariously inappropriate dinner scene, in which it seems that no jungle island is too remote to host a 60's cocktail-set evening, and later the novelist and Jeannie have a fight. She yells at him and feels insulted by him, then says "wait" as he's about to leave, and melts into his arms shortly after gasping "I need you!" So she's obviously quite psychotic, but she's still got two hooters and a honeypot, and that's all our hero really seems to be interested in.

Anyway, it would seem that Jeannie's dad, the mad scientist in question, is giving radiated snake venom to the natives which, as has been widely established, will immediately turn anyone into a zombie with the aforementioned oatmeal-face. We are treated to two scenes of transformation, each with searingly realistic special effects that will make a believer out of the most jaded skeptic. It would seem that the natives want to sacrifice a virgin white woman because they believe it'll help the crops or whatever. After seeing Jeannie throwing herself at our novelist, it doesn't seem that they're really going to have to worry about this, but apparently the two of them just engaged in some heavy petting, because apparently Jeannie's hymen is still tight as a drum and they're worried that the natives are going to take her off and kill her.

I should mention that around this point I turned the movie off and went to bed, and watched the rest the next night. so it's hard to say if the second half really was much more boring, or if I'd just lost interest. I go with the theory that that it was much more boring, as it's all just running and screaming, whereas the first half has all of the swingin' 60s fun and outrageous chauvinism, which generates the most interest here. The best part of the second half is when the plane supposedly explodes, and you can tell that someone offscreen has obviously chucked "debris" at our intrepid survivors. The other highlight is when our heroes have to pass unnoticed among the natives, so they pick up some native ceremonial costumes which just HAPPEN to be hanging on the wall. Then they go outside, and the natives simply don't notice that from the waist down these "natives" are wearing khaki pants and loafers.

It goes on, and then it finally ends. It's short, and yet way too long. Such is the paradox of I Eat Your Skin.

Oh, and by the way: remarkably few scenes of skin eating.

Should you watch it: 

If you can somehow see it for free or for a very low price.