I Eat Your Skin (1964)
There’s always something appealing about a flick with the promise of people eating skin and voodoo zombies with a good-looking babe in peril. Hosted by that beautiful leggy ghoul Elvira, “I Eat Your Skin” turns out to be a classic bait-and-switch flick, providing less scares and more ridiculous acting than I would care to see.
The film begins with William Joyce (Tom Harris) poolside macking on some honeys when he’s whisked away to Voodoo Island by his agent, Duncan (Dan Stapleton), and his annoyingly voiced wife, Coral (Betty Hyatt Linton), to gather material for his next book. Arriving on the island, Joyce is attacked by a bug-eyed zombie but fends him off before his welcome party drops in and saves the day — for the moment.
Even with troublesome zombies on the island, Joyce still finds time to lay down some horrible pickup lines on the ladies, particularly the local doctor’s daughter, Jeannie (Heather Hewitt). Her father is on the island working on a cure for cancer; however, his “cure” actually turns people into mindless zombies.
Later in the film, it’s learned he’s kept there for fear of losing his daughter by a businessman hellbent on creating an army of zombies to do his bidding. (Cue evil laugh.) After an attempt to seize Jeannie, Joyce is intent on taking her from the island the following day until things are figured out. It seems pretty simple to me — the natives need a virgin and Jeannie fits the bill. And Joyce is supposed to be a successful storyteller. (Raised eyebrow stare.)
But as they try to flee the island, a dynamite-carrying zombie blows up their plane, kidnaps Jeannie and Coral, and gives Joyce the chance he needs to swoop in and be the hero. As they get the girls, the good doctor sets the reactor of his laboratory to overload and destroy the island, which is magnificent in all its schlocky goodness. It is literally a noticeable model of the island that is blown up with pieces of tiny wood flying into the air. But that’s not the end of the film.
No, there’s no resurgence of the zombies. No, there’s no vial of zombie-inducing serum that made it back to the mainland. The movie ends with Joyce telling a group of girls a story poolside, much the same way he’s introduced in the film, before Jeannie pushes him in the pool. The camera focuses on the duo in the pool and pans out with some cheering drum-based music before cutting to credits.
Did I forget to mention the scenes with skin being eating by the truckloads? I didn’t because there were none to be found. That’s right folks, a film titled “I Eat Your Skin” has zero scenes of skin being consumed. There is one good head-hacking scene, but that’s about it.
The most realistic elements of the film are the ritual scenes with the natives. In the beginning, you’re thrust in the flick in almost a peyote-induced trip with heavy drums and a girl wearing nothing but a two-piece outfit writhing around. The opening ends with a man with a machete being forced to decide between a goat or the girl and c’mon, how many times have we faced that same dilemma at some point in our lives, guys?
Elvira is the perfect date for this flick. The funny pop-ups throughout the film are wonderful. The Mistress of the Dark might be pushing 60, but she’s never looked better. Be on the lookout for the Dennis Rodman reference — pure gold.
The disc also features “Night of the Living Dead” and some extras such as a video by Ghoultown and behind-the-scenes footage.
“I Eat Your Skin” is a letdown in the fact that no quarter-pound flesh burgers were consumed, but its bad acing, even worse makeup and shoddy special effects make the film a good edition to your Schlock Vault library. If you don’t like it, well it’s no skin off my nose. Even I hate myself for that one.