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Flesh Eaters (2022) Review

I was actually looking for 1964’s The Flesh Eaters when Tubi served me up this 2022 film about man made zombies that I hadn’t even heard of before. The trailer looked cheesy, but it was only sixty-six minutes long including credits and the cast included genre veterans George Stover (Blood Massacre, The Alien Factor) and Leanna Chamish (What Happens Next Will Scare You, Call Girl of Cthulhu), so I figured why not give it a look.

The film opens with a young woman sitting by the riverside getting ready to do some drawing when some sort of green faced, clawed humanoid attacks her and drags her away. Elsewhere, Isabella (Tara Bixler, Legend of Demoniac, Blood Cove) is finishing up a lunch break rendezvous with Brandon (Jed Brian, Unlisted Owner, 13 Slays Till X-Mas) when her sister Emma (Jordan Leigh Wheatley, Red Bottoms, Wolf at the Door) calls to remind her to be at the lawyer’s Monday morning, but she’s more concerned with attending The Swamp Bash over the weekend.

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Later, Emma is watching the news when her husband gets home and we learn two things. The woman we saw attacked in the prologue is far from the only person to go missing lately, and Brandon is banging his sister-in-law.

When Monday rolls around and her sister misses the meeting at the lawyer’s office, Emma insists she and Brandon go poke around the swamp looking for her. Unbeknownst to them, Dr. Owensby (Grant Karazsia, Graveyard Stories, Grim Reaper) is looking for something in the swamp as well, something that he and his boss Dr. Forsythe (Leanna Chamish) are desperate to find before anyone else does.

Writer/director James Ian Mair (The Shadow Zone, Grim Reaper) puts us in the swamp with these and a few other characters for what feels like an updated take on an old school mad scientist film like Blood Waters of Dr. Z, aka Zaat!. Because the swamp is home to the secret lab where Dr. Trenton (Jeff Angel, Ezekiel’s Landing, Oregonda) and The Nurse (Jamie Angel) are creating an army of the undead.

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Flesh Eaters is a microbudget film which you’ll realize the first time you get a look at Dr. Trenton’s creation, its name by the way, is Akro (Benjamin Mair, A Whisper in the Dark, Fangs). Its rigid mask and dollar store claws aren’t exactly state-of-the-art effects. Similarly, much of the surprisingly plentiful gore that Mair puts on the screen looks like it came from a butcher shop rather than an effects company, but it’s better than CGI or nothing at all, and fits in with Flesh Eater’s retro vibe.

And that’s a vibe that Mair does a good job of recreating here, from the simplistic plot, and remote appearances by Stover and Chamish’s characters, to the over the top performances by the Angels as the mad doctor and nurse, down to the hour long running time, the same as many quickies shot for the bottom half of a drive-in double feature.

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The film does have a few issues with hanging plot threads, although that may have been intentional, Mair seems to like doing sequels, and Flesh Eaters ending sets one up. And, purely a personal gripe but, in the record store Isabella and Gretchen (Sunny King, Grim Reaper, Fangs) works at the sleeve for Atlanta Rhythm Section’s Campaign Jam is sitting on the stereo, but whatever’s playing certainly isn’t it.

Overall though, Flesh Eaters is a fun throwback with a bit of blood, a couple of jump scares and a lot of love for the genre packed into its short running time. Those who don’t mind DIY filmmaking should enjoy it. It’s currently available on Tubi so mainstream fans who want to give it a try can do it for free.

SRS Cinema has released Flesh Eaters on Blu-ray, and it is also available on streaming services. There’s also a novelization in the works, you can find out more on the Moonlight Films Facebook page.

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