FleshEater (1988)

And so we end October of the Living Dead the same way we started: with Mr. Bill Hinzman. Remember back in Night of the Living Dead when I said to keep him in mind for later on? Well, that time is now! The man who played the first “ghoul” we see made a career out of that appearance, culminating in this film that he wrote, directed, and starred it. It’s currently freely streaming on Tubi, so that kind of tells you the quality.

The film follows a group of… people who I’m gonna say are somewhere between “they talk and act like teenagers” and “they look like they’re in their 40’s.” They go out to the woods on Halloween to hang out and have premarital sex, which is complicated when a local unearths Hinzman, ignoring three different layers of protective warnings and bindings that would suggest to a normal person that this would be a bad idea. Anyone this zombie kills comes back as a zombie, which gets out of control as the killing really kicks off. The “youths” scatter and most of them die, but we need a higher body count so a good chunk of the movie is spent focusing on random locals celebrating Halloween before they get killed by zombies. Shoutout to the drunk vampire who was a producer and the guy in the chicken suit who ends up being the best character just for being a zombie wearing a chicken suit. The local militia shows up in the morning to clear out the zombies, which feels like a retread of Night of the Living Dead. That feeling really hits home when the last two surviving “youths” are shot by a militia member who thought they were zombies. Hey, it’s Vincent Survinski! You know, the guy who shot Ben in Night! Oh, and Hinzman survived, giving the movie a generic “the evil lives on” ending.

This is part of the initiation into Movie Night. My friends and I have had this DVD for over a decade, and it was one of the first films watched when we started gathering up in my friend’s parents’ basement. Because of this we regard it as a horror classic, coming up with a drinking game and riffing it like pros. “Bill Hinzman demands more tits!” has been a saying among us for ages, because in addition to just been cheap and sleezy, there’s a fair amount of gratuitous nudity for no reason.

Right, so this is not a good movie. The acting is bad, the very limited special effects are bad, the zombie makeup is bad… But I think the best way to summarize my feelings on this movie was the horrifying realization I had when rewatching it for this blog. I hadn’t seen the movie in a while so while I remembered the main points, the middle was largely a blur. The “youths” showed up in the woods decked out in stereotypical 80’s fashion, which meant a terrifying amount of jean jackets. But there were two brown haired generic white guys wearing jean jackets, and I was honestly getting them mixed up. Eventually I realized that while the men were basically indistinguishable, their jackets were different colors. So we had light blue guy and dark blue guy, okay. Then Dark Blue Jean Jacket Guy goes off with his girlfriend (who looks like she’s bordering 50) to have sex for the first time, and they’re the first of the group to die. Okay, so we have only one jean jacket left… EXCEPT NOPE! Later on when the “youths” are bordering up an abandoned house, there are two jean jacket generic white guys with brown hair on the screen at the same time! Turns out there were three the entire time, just absolutely blandly blending in with each other! How absolutely horrifying.

And that totally is a reflection on the movie and not on me, clearly. Happy Halloween!

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