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In the 1940s, Veronica Lake made a meteoric rise to film stardom, thanks to her sultry beauty and, her highly exploited "peekaboo" hairstyle. She starred opposite big names like Alan Ladd and Fredric March, scoring screen successes in films like "This Gun For Hire" and "I Married A Witch". She held her own with female stars as well, and she surprised even her detractors with her performance as a bitter navy nurse in "So Proudly We Hail". But changing times and her own failings caught up with her, and by the end of the decade, her heyday was over. With two unsuccessful marriages behind her (and two more in her future) Veronica headed for New York City, where she made occasional television and summer stock appearances before dropping completely out of sight. It was briefly big news when she was found working as a barmaid in a second rate hotel in the early sixties. But by now, her longtime alcoholism and years of hard living had robbed her of her looks. Without them, public interest in her soon faded again. She did return to the stage in assorted vehicles, but her success was minimal. Eventually, she relocated to Miami, Florida, where she lived in relative obscurity. In 1966 she went to Canada for a part in an obscure movie called "Footsteps In The Snow" which had no U.S. release. The following year, she was discovered by some industrial filmmakers who had long wanted to produce a commercial feature. They approached her to star in their film "Time Is Terror" and convinced her to invest in the project. As one author put it, "If ever a movie queen suffered a terminal comedown, this was it". Surrounded by amateur performers and pathetic production values, she failed even to rise to a minimal level in this Miami, Florida shot quickie. Looking utterly ordinary in long shots, and luridly aged in close-ups, poor Veronica didn't act so much as walk through her part. As a deranged doctor, who has hit upon a successful youth restoration formula, using flesh-eating maggots!, she looks both bored and confused, her best moment coming when she is forced to ad-lib while she struggles desperately to don a pair of rubber gloves. The supporting cast is no help at all,merely advancing the plot by talking it to death, (when they aren't wandering aimlessly around the set, that is). Director Brad Grinter apparently only required the actors to move while the camera was pointed at them,so the fault isn't entirely theirs. As for the ''twist ending'' involving an attempt to put a supposedly long dead Dictator back in power- forget it. Just like the script does. There is, admittedly, one unintentionally hilarious scene involving a Private Detective/Nurse and a corpse in a wheelchair that predates ''Weekend At Bernie's'' by almost 20 years.)But there's a whole lot of nothing before you get there. According to Veronica herself, the film was shelved for three years because no master shots were filmed. Then, in 1970, the opportunistic production company scraped it together, changed the title to "Flesh Feast", and released it to cash in on Lake's just published biography. Because former leading ladies such as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Olivia De Havilland had unexpectedly revived their careers in horror movies, this travesty was promoted as Veronica's "comeback film". This was a strange course of action for the filmmakers to pursue, though, because it's unlikely that the audience for a horror movie of THIS quality either knew (or cared) who Veronica Lake was. As expected, it did nothing for her career, and she died in poverty, three years later. A previous reviewer cites a scene in which the female detective working undercover as a nurse in the doctor's laboratory (overseeing the theft of bodies from a nearby morgue) enlists the help of a multi-talented chauffeur to cut up the body parts. "Poor Mrs. Lustig," she sighs, "I hope she doesn't mind leaving her body to science." "Try not to think about it," advises the chauffeur, sawing away. "I guess you are right, Hans." concludes the detective/nurse, "What is done is done." Alas, the unintentional humor is the only remotely entertaining part of this tripe. What a sad end to the career of a still fondly remembered star.
Without a doubt one of the most attractive and seductive ladies of the silver screen was Veronica Lake. She had a distinctive look and a distinctive quality that few actresses were ever able to duplicate. With such landmark films as Sullivan's Travels, The Glass Key, The Blue Dahlia, and This Gun for Hire under her belt, Veronica was a a star of epic proportions, and then things fell apart. She made a string of poorly conceived and received films, spiraled into the dark world of alcoholism and faded into obscurity. She died in the early 70's at the age of 53 from hepatitis. The 4'11 blonde bombshell reduced to an obscure reminder of a faded glory. Before her unfortunately uneventful death, Veronica made one last film in 1970 called Flesh Feast. The premise for Flesh Feast is as follows: a female doctor once connected with the Third Reich has developed a way to make men look younger through a treatment of using maggots, that have fed on human flesh, applied to their face. Intrigue abounds as former Nazis(strangely most of them having fake Italian accents)congregate in this home where science is buzzing with new scientific progress. The doctor and her espionage friends are waiting for Mr. Big to come. Well, to tell you any more would ruin the inane ending. It certainly is a very poorly crafted story. The film is poorly made on so many levels. You know you are in trouble when the name of the actor with top billing AFTER Ms. Lake is named Phil Philbin. I laughed for minutes seeing just his name and knew where this film was going: no where. There is almost no blood in this film. There are no scary moments. There is no suspense. The film seems to be nothing more than a few guys getting together in Florida with a personal movie camera and shooting the film. Of course it is the presence of Veronica Lake that is being sold. She had not made a movie at this time in five years and only one in the last ten years. It seems that alcohol had become such a part of her life that she was once found as a barmaid in a hotel. Ms. Lake gives a stilted performance at best, but clearly has more talent than anyone involved in front or behind the camera. The director shows her in those old woman pant suits so fashionable then...and now...and never tries to copy the common sense of Ms. Lake's previous directors. When your leading lady is 4'11, you just don't shoot wide shots that make her look like an aged midget against the backdrop of everything and everyone. Veronica has put some weight on and her face is a bit pudgy, but you can tell it is her. She still has that sparkle in her eyes. Although the movie is God awful in almost every way, it certainly should be seen for its value as a cinematic oddity. It is one of the rare chances of seeing a star that burned out... to soon. Fortunately for me, I shall always remember Ms. Lake for her films with Alan Ladd. They were Veronica Lake at her best. But I will remember Flesh Feast as well. It is not good nor horrifying, but a sad reminder what happened to such a wonderful actress.
Flesh Feast is a film not worth viewing or seeing, it was sad to see Veronica Lake make this her last film. She was a pin-up girl for our G.I.'s during World War II and had great sex appeal with her sexy hair style covering her eye. Veronica was not appreciated by the film industry who placed her in B movies throughout her career. This film was her last effort to get back into the business after a long struggle with drinking problems. Flesh Feast and its maggots are all for the garbage can.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Producer, Director and Film Teacher Brad Grinter was well liked in the
Florida Exploitation film community, if only for the fact that as Grinter
was a fully fledged nudist, naked women always seemed to be hanging around
his office. His films though are a less titillating prospect. Their shoddy
editing and out of focus shots pose the question what on earth Grinter was
teaching to his film students, who are thought to have unwittingly financed
many of Grinter's directing outings by paying hefty tuition fees. According
to legend Grinter met Veronica Lake in the late Sixties when he was working
as a location scout on Herschell Lewis' Just for the Hell of It'. That
film, a story of anti-social youths on a rampage, called for a room to be
trashed at one point. After contacting a local landlord, such a room was
hired for destruction- the only problem being an elderly woman had secretly
moved in and was about to be evicted. Grinter intervened, allowing the
woman to remain in the room during filming, and later discovered his
tenant' was non other than the former I Married a Witch' and Sullivan's
Travels' star who'd evidently fallen on hard times. A sad story, but
perhaps not as sad as Flesh Feast, the Sunshine State horror movie that Lake
financed as a comeback' vehicle and Grinter co-produced and directed in
The convoluted plot opens with the murder of a newshound investigating arms dealer Carl Shuman. Upon learning of his friend's death publisher Ed Casey vows I'm going on this case myself', but by the time the credits have rolled he's obviously had a change of heart since he spends the rest of the film sitting behind his desk. The film then switches to the Miami mansion of Shuman's friend Elaine Frederick (Lake) a doctor and former mental patient (not the greatest of combinations) who has been working on creating a modern day fountain of youth'. Grinter's favourite non-actress Heather Hughes plays Frederick's nurse assistant, who is in fact secretly working undercover for Casey. Two other nurses also snoop around the mansion and say things like gosh this should give you the willies'. Hughes gains Frederick's trust to the degree that she's allowed to help out with the doctor's experiments which involve stealing bits of corpses from the spare parts department' of the local hospital and feeding human flesh to cannibalistic maggots. The script by Grinter and Thomas Casey (he of Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things' infamy) isn't at all clear as to why, but Frederick believes the flesh munching maggots can act as a plastic surgery substitute and reverse the aging process. Halfway through the film a bunch of South American heavies show up at the mansion and effectively hold everyone hostage. They've been sent there by Frederick's secret financer, The Commander', an aged dictator who plans to use the doctor's discovery for his own nefarious ends. The Commander's second-in-command the very old and very arrogant' Max Bauer played by a young actor in flour make-up turns up and acts as a guinea pig for Frederick's maggot plastic surgery. The operation done presumably by applying maggots to Bauer's face is a success, but Bauer lets the idea of looking young again go to his head and strangles one of the nurses, only to be then stabbed to death by her boyfriend. After what seems like an eternity The Commander' finally shows up, and as if the moustache and phoney German accent wasn't a dead giveaway turns out to be non other than Adolf Hitler, alive and well and on the look out for a new face. However the Nazi's plan goes belly up when the bodies of Bauer and the nurse are discovered resulting in a shootout between the police and the heavies. In the confusion Frederick straps Hitler down to an operating table, reveals her mother died in a concentration camp and as revenge tortures him to death with cannibalistic maggots.
While Flesh Feast's storyline would suggest it to be, if nothing else, a worthy companion piece to Grinter's Blood Freak (about a biker who due to drug experimentation turns into a turkey monster), sadly all of its plot absurdities are lamely realised, and without the ..dare I say charm of his turkey horror film. There's no discernable action or suspense, and Grinter seems to have been under the delusion that a string of repetitive scenes featuring Florida exploitation perennials like Chris Martell and Harry Kerwin lounging around in motel look rooms and yakking in dodgy foreign accents would somehow pass for an entertaining film. Grinter occasionally waves the odd severed limb in the audience's faces, and there are even several somewhat desperate stabs at black comedy with Frederick's assistants smuggling a body from a hospital simply by putting dark glasses on the corpse and conspicuously' pushing it around in a wheel-chair or when nurse Heather Hughes feels so bad about one of her dead former patients having a leg cut off with a hacksaw that she remarks poor Mrs. Lustig, I hope she doesn't mind leaving her body to science'. Such minor rewards though are hard to recommend when the rest of the film is such tedious, yawn-a-minute stuff. Lake, because this was her final film before her death in 1973 lends the film a certain footnote with an asterisk' status, and is better than the cardboard supporting cast, but it's hard to argue that being surrounded by maggots, a Hitler impersonator and the low end of the Florida entertainment world was a fitting finale to anyone's career.
Brad Grinter passed away a few years back and the rights to his films were inherited by his son Randy who has recently sold them on for VHS/DVD releases. Blood Freak is already out and Grinter's once presumed lost nudist films are rumoured to be coming shortly. The poor quality DVD release this review was based on however bares all the hallmarks of an unauthorized grey area job.
I'm always game for low budget films of any genre because every now and
again you run across a gem. "Detour" has popped up as a noir
masterpiece and "Night of the Living Dead" has become a cult classic.
So maybe "Flesh Feast" would be worth a look. That was my first
It appears that there is not much story line and what there is makes no sense...maggots that chomp on your face and reverse the aging process....huh?? And then Adolph Hitler pops up. But besides this weak premise, there is absolutely nothing to recommend about this film. It appears to be shot in somebody's basement with an old Bell and Howell home movie camera. The acting of all involved is atrocious which leads me to Veronica Lake.
I realize that Miss Lake was down on her luck and had alcohol and mental problems but was it so bad that she had to end her career with this horror? I don't have to review her career from the 1940s and her wonderful films with Alan Ladd. She was the pin-up girl with the hair to die for. Her descent into oblivion really started when she cut her peekaboo hair and it was suddenly revealed that she really wasn't quite as beautiful as she appeared. Since her stardom depended upon her looks rather than her talent, it was all down hill. Luckily, many of her fans don't even know that this film exists and it is just as well. To see her fall to these depths is so very sad. She was such a treasure of her time.
Avoid this film at all costs. It has no redeeming qualities and will only depress you to see Miss Lake hitting bottom.
Don't judge a movie by it's title. This movie is terrible. The effects are non existent...There is no(I repeat NO) gore in this movie! No flesh, no feasting, just a boring and horribly edited waste of time. The only thing close to the flesh feast promised are occasional shots of maggots. Scary indeed. Avoid this film AT ALL COSTS
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***BIG SPOILERS!*** "Flesh Feast" of 1970 is a more than unworthy conclusion to the great Veronica Lake's career. This has the wide reputation of being an awful stinker, and rightly so, I must say. As a huge fan of low-budget Horror/Exploitation, especially from the 70s, I nonetheless chose to watch this, mainly due to the cool camp-looking picture on this site, but after watching it I had to recognize that the picture actually has nothing to do with the film. The picture here on this site is the cover of a DVD collection entitled 'Flesh Feast' containing four films, including Sergio Martino's "Mountain Of The Cannibal God" and Dal Tenney's "I Eat Your Skin". What the collection does not include, however, is this boring turkey. "Flesh Feast" is not only camp and ridiculous, but mostly quite tedious, which is even more pathetic regarding that the film is only 70 minutes long. Also, don't get fooled by the title, the film is not gory at all. Yet it is watchable, if only for its trashiness and, especially, the extremely stupid, but therefore somewhat entertaining ending. The film follows a ridiculous plot about Dr. Elaine Frederick (Veronica Lake), an ingenious female scientist who can somehow rebuild youth with the help of flesh-eating maggots (don't ask how). A bunch of criminals (or terrorists, or whatever), who are paid by a radical political group assign the doctor to restore the youth of a 'mysterious' commander. After an endless hour of nonsensical drivel, it turns out that the mysterious commander is actually Hitler himself. It was quite obvious before, but I still had to burst out laughing because the film's finale was so unbelievably silly and unintentionally hilarious... This is a film that is very inadequate as the last film of a great actress and former beauty queen like Veronika Lake. Except for lake, the performances are ridiculously bad, even for a zero-budget production like this. Bad performances, however, are something I can easily forgive in films like this one. What I can not forgive, though, is extreme boredom. The final five minutes make this watchable for hardcore fans of camp stuff, but I would still recommend to skip it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Flesh Feast starts at Miami Airport, ace reporter Dan Carter (Harry
Kerwin, he is also credited as production designer) phones his mate Ed
Casey (Phil Philbin) to let him know that he has just returned from
South America where he has been investigating Carl Schuman (Doug
Foster) & that he was onto a big story but while still talking on the
phone he is stabbed in the back & killed. Schuman meets Dr. Elaine
Frederick (Veronica Lake, she also executive produced) who has recently
been released from a mental institution, together they discuss their
grisly plans. The news of Cater's death has reached Casey & he decides
to take the story up himself & do some investigating, well actually he
gets his secretary Viginia Day (Marth Mischon) to do most of the
investigating & just report back to him, lazy bugger. Virginia informs
Casey that they have someone on the inside named Kristine (Heather
Hughes) since Dr. Frederick rents her spare rooms out to nurses,
Kristine reports back to Casey about Schuman & Dr. Frederick's
grotesque youth restoration experiments involving human flesh &
specially cultivated maggots...
Co written, co-produced & directed by Brad F. Grinter Flesh Feast is a pretty poor film on all accounts. First lets start with the script by Grinter & Thomas Casey who was also responsible for the cinematography (you get the feeling that most of the cast & crew had more than one job), basically it's terrible. The character's are one dimensional idiots & have no personality, I didn't like anyone in this film. For what it's worth I quite like some of the ideas here, the flesh-eating maggots, the basement laboratory, stealing bodies from a hospital & that unforgettable 'twist' ending that's almost worth sitting through the rest of the film for on it's own. Unfortunately the dialogue is so badly written, stiff & unnatural sounding it's untrue, I mean there is one scene in which a nurse says that they "won't let us out of the house" which is fine except for the fact that she is speaking OUTSIDE in the garden to someone. No thought has been put into the story as no explanation is ever given for why flesh-eating maggots are able to restore youth, in fact at one point near the end when questioned about this very thing Dr. Frederick claims there is no time to explain at that point which to me sounds like the people who wrote this didn't have a clue either! Even at an extremely short 68 minutes long Flesh Feast is very slow & dull, the poor editing doesn't help with scenes & shots lasting for far too long, for example there is a scene in which an Ambulance pulls up outside a Hospital, drives up to the doors, the guy gets out, he walks to the back doors & opens them etc. etc. did we really need to see every single detail? There is also another sequence in which Dr. Frederick enters room & puts some gloves on, then she takes them off walks into the opposite room & puts another pair on! I personally think that Grinter probably didn't shoot enough material so he stretches every scene out as much as he can to make the run time up. I do like that bizarre ending though, I really do. Technically Flesh feast is complete crap, I'm not sure what the budget was on this but it must have been small, very small. Just about the entire film takes place in one house, Dr. Frederick's laboratory consists of a table, some plastic beakers & test tubes, some ancient looking electronic medical equipment & a strange screen with funny colours on it (don't ask). The cinematography is poor, the music sucks & the entire film looks dubbed, badly dubbed too. The exploitation elements are also disappointing, there are a few maggot shots but they don't actually do anything other than wriggle a bit, there is a brief scene where a dead body has it's leg sawn off & a OK looking dismembered corpse & limbs hanging on hooks. The acting is awful from everyone concerned, & I mean really bad which makes the rubbishy dialogue even worse. Do yourself a favour & avoid Flesh Feast, yes there are one or two unintentionally funny moments & that ending is, well unique to say the least but for the most part this is real amateur film-making that quickly becomes painful to watch. I doubt most people will make it through this is one sitting, I can tolerate just about anything but even I considered switching it off. Definitely one to avoid, you'll be pleased you did & if you really have to see it don't say you weren't warned!
Flesh Feast (1970)
BOMB (out of 4)
Yes, sadly Veronica Lake's final film is as bad as you've heard. In the film a newspaper editor starts to do some investigating after his star reporter phones him up on a hot story only to soon after be murdered. The story then turns to Dr. Elaine Frederick (Lake), a mad scientist who is doing work on dead tissue for a secret experiment. FLESH FEAST is without question one of the worst horror films out there and the only question it really leaves the viewer with is if it's actually worse than director Brad F. Grinter's next movie BLOOD FREAK. No matter how you slice it this is a really bad movie that has very little going for it. I read a lot of posts with people asking why Lake would appear in something like this but the biggest question is why she'd put her own money up for a project like this. However, if you really think about it it's rather clear that her career wasn't going anywhere and I'm sure many told her that appearing in a film like this would get her name back out there and that the genre was easy to make money in. I'm really not sure where to start on the badness of this film but lets just say that there's really nothing good to mention. The performances are all extremely bad, although Lake doesn't come off as bad as she could have. Just check out the one lady who witnesses some "meat" in a basement around the forty-eight minute mark. The woman goes into a hysterical scream but before she runs out of the basement she turns to check out what made her scream again. The direction really can't be found but I'm going to guess that the main job was to bring it in on budget. The story itself is all over the place as it seems to jump around whenever it wants and without any explanation. The only half-way decent thing going on is the big twist in the final minutes, which has sadly been ruined by most reviews (even Leonard Maltin) that give it away. It's certainly campy to the extreme and it's a shame the rest of the movie wasn't as campy so that it would have been more entertaining. The 72-minutes really drag along and there's really nothing more that can be said.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Brad Grinter's other claim to fame was BLOOD FREAK, about a bloodthirsty turkey-monster. Chris Martell previously appeared in THE GRUESOME TWOSOME, then co-starred with Phil Philbin in SCREAM BABY SCREAM. Apparently those films weren't bad enough so these guys collaborated on this Grade-Z stinker, co-produced by none other than Veronica Lake. Veronica plays a crazed plastic surgeon who uses hungry maggots for dermabrasion. She's also seeking revenge on a "mystery patient" whose identity is revealed at the end. (HINT: This mystery patient ruled Germany during World War II.) This grungy premise, which should have grossed out drive-in audiences everywhere, is undermined by insane dialog, risible acting and hysterical production gaffes. A lab assistant cuts through a corpse's tendon and a noise like wood being sawed is heard on the soundtrack. Another character blunders into a room festooned with pale body parts hanging from the ceiling; she actually has to bump into a hacked-up torso before noticing anything wrong. I've read about a scene where Lake spouts a patriotic wartime speech directly into the camera; thankfully, it's been cut from every video version I've seen. Veronica was a diner waitress prior to doing this picture. After waiting on the public, she probably considered working with maggots a pleasant chore by comparison.
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