Night of the Flesh Eaters (2008)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring James Lemire, Gia Franzia, David Rosenhaus, Eric Daman, Fred Stoverink, Jessica Green, J.R. McGarrity
Written & Directed by J.R. McGarrity
A tribe of indigenous dwarf cannibals inhabiting a section of woods that only come out once every year on a night that amounts to a Native American Halloween - me likey already.
Dwarf cannibals that look like zombified hybrids of the It's Alive killer baby puppets and the albino creatures from The Descent are just one of the many flesh-eating fiends lurking about these woods on this fateful evening, and they're not even the daffiest of the lot either. A pig-faced humanoid that cries like a baby to lure unsuspecting samaritans to their doom, a Garbage Pail Kids reject stalking and taunting potential victims from the brush, a stone man, a red man, and who can forget those ferocious, flying, fire dogs?
All of the monstrous flesh eaters are the make-up creations of Tom Devlin's 1313FX and though none of the creatures will win any awards for most convincing, for a tongue-in-cheek low rent production of this sort they're sufficiently imaginative and just wacko enough to delight more than fright. It's a nice return to 1980's style B-movie monster make-up, the sort of stuff you'd expect to see in movies of that era like Spookies and such.
That throwback quality is one of the main reasons J.R. McGarrity's cheerily campy Night of the Flesh Eaters took me by complete surprise. I was expecting something more zombie oriented given the title. Given some of my bad experiences with ultra low budget filmmaking I was expecting a less polished production equally lacking in the imagination department. McGarrity's film isn't any earth-shattering, but to my delight I got a professional-looking creature feature that's low budget limitations are off-set by some inspired wackiness, all the stuff that cult flicks are made of.
This guy from New Jersey who's like a sitcom mafioso - he reminded me very much of comedian Jay Thomas - heads off to the deep, dark woods to rendezvous with the killer he hired to whack his cheating wife and the partner she was cheating with. The killer turns out to be a young-ish guy dressed like and talking like spaghetti western Clint Eastwood; he'll spend more time waxing ecological about forest conservationism than assassination. It's an instant clash of personalities between these two. Even more so when the murder plan turns out to be a double-cross. The killer reveals himself to be his wife's actual lover, an archaeologist/folklorist/college professor, and knowing the husband was the sort who would have them killed, they in turn concocted a plan to turn the tables on him using these particular woods on this particular night, a Native American version of Halloween, but one where the ghosts and goblins are very real and very hungry, which makes for an oddly convenient means by which to make another person disappear without a trace.
The husband gets left behind to be eaten by the monsters while the lovers make their getaway. That plan doesn't quite work out either when they wreck their car and end up stranded. The intensely matter-of-fact college professor proves to be a fountain of obscure Native American flesh-eating factoids, always gleefully describing the nature of these supernatural beasties in a voice akin to someone sitting around a campfire telling a scary ghost story. None of this sits well with the adulterous wife, ever terrified and seriously reconsidering her relationships with all the men in her life.
The hotheaded husband, meanwhile, gets turned into a human Road Runner cartoon as he suffers the comically gory consequences of encountering one monster after another, narrowly surviving each time and becoming increasingly emboldened. "I am sick and tired of you frickin' flesh eaters trying to eat my frikin' flesh!" he bellows while scuffling with a demonic Indian.
A good deal of overacting abounds, not to the degree found in your average Troma film, mind you, but strangely mannered overacting, as if each actor is striving for a particular tone of overacting for their character. It often plays very sitcom-ish and viewers are going to find it either amusing or annoying. It worked for me because this is a movie very much about how they react to the situations they keep finding themselves in more so than it is about actually advancing a plot.
Things did begin to wane a tad late in when they encounter a delirious woman in her bra & panties under the spell of a brainwashing shaman (played by writer/director J.R. McGarrity himself) who magically manipulates people to find a big stick with which he can use to roast them over an open fire. After the menagerie of zany monsters they'd encountered, having the big bad boss monster, so to speak, being just a blonde, Reggie Bannister look-a-like in a flannel shirt with glowing eyes doing a "get me a stick" running joke was a bit of a letdown.
Regardless, Night of the Flesh Eaters is a fun, fast-paced, monster-filled hoot that deserves an audience. Head over to the official website and pick yourself up a copy. Sit back, crack a beer, and prepare to have a good time.
3 1/2 out of 5
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