I Eat Your Skin – aka Zombie – is a 1964 American horror film produced, written and directed by Del Tenney (The Horror of Party Beach; The Curse of the Living Corpse). Second unit director William Grefé went on to direct Death Curse of Tartu; Sting of Death and Stanley. It stars William Joyce, Heather Hewitt and Betty Hyatt Linton.
Filmed in Miami as Zombie (the director-producer apparently told locals he was making a spy thriller called Caribbean Adventure to avoid controversy), it remained unreleased for six years, despite an apparent title change to Voodoo Blood Bath. There are anecdotes from Tenney and Grefé about the production in the book Drums of Terror: Voodoo in the Cinema.
In 1970, exploitation film distributor Jerry Gross bought the rights to the film for a reported $40,000 (this seems perhaps exaggerated?) and retitled it I Eat Your Skin so he could pair it on a themed Cinemation Industries double-bill with his own production I Drink Your Blood.
Writer Tom Harris (William Joyce) travels to “Voodoo Island” in search of material on local legends for his novel. Unfortunately, he stumbles onto the secret laboratory of Dr. Biladeau, a mad scientist who is experimenting with reversing the process of aging…
” …remains content to wallow in a strange mixture of zany comedy and what passed in its day for sleazy lasciviousness, with even its better efforts generally handicapped by an absurdly low budget— the zombies, for example, all have what appears to be oatmeal slathered over their faces, and what’s more, their bulging, sightless eyes seem in most cases to have been painted directly onto that oatmeal.” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“… it gets better as it goes, with enough action, humor, gore, babes in bikinis, explosions, and narrow escapes to make it a pretty satisfying B-movie experience. It’s fast-paced, focused and pleasingly predictable. Jungle drums, piano, and horns make for a good soundtrack.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
“The direction is prosaic and fails to even make the Florida locations (which stand in for the Caribbean) interesting. Del Tenney does craft some okay looking voodoo ritual scenes, which have a fervid flavour that looks authentic. The film’s best feature is its’ zombies – when they first appear with big white opaque circles instead of eyes and cracked and peeling skin, the effect is quite unearthly.” Richard Scheib, Moria
“…you will be too busy being distracted by the poor editing, the odd script, and the plot that stops and starts at seemingly random intervals, and the total lack of logic and basic storytelling ability.” The Zombie Site
“There is a machete beheading, but this is over too quickly to see the dummy head fly into the foliage. Some zombie transformation dissolves are shown as the frogspawn eyed creatures are created with snake venom. But, aside from an exploding island, there is not much else of interest to warrant sitting through some extremely laboured, clunky and often directionless dialogue.” Pickled Cinema
“Crude, dumbly conceived junk piece…” John Stanley, Creature Features
” … just the type of cheap crap that sullies the good name of exploitation cinema.” Paul Pritchard, DVD Verdict
“In an anomalously creative scene, a zombie blows up the protagonists’ plane by casually walking into the propeller while holding a box of explosives – a zombie suicide bomber.” Peter Dendle, The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia
“The climax, which involves the island being destroyed, is achieved using a terrible model and a firecracker explosion. With bad effects, horrible dialogue, and a Muzak-inspired score, this concoction is fascinating, and like so many other films of the 1960s, it’s almost entertaining in a so-bad-it’s-good way.” Glenn Kay, Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide
Tom Harris: “I’ve heard a rumour that there’s an army of the walking dead on this island. Is there any truth to that?”
Cast and characters:
- William Joyce … Tom Harris
- Heather Hewitt … Jeannie Biladeau
- Betty Hyatt Linton … Coral Fairchild
- Dan Stapleton … Duncan Fairchild
- Walter Coy … Charles Bentley
- Robert Stanton … Dr. Biladeau
- Vanoye Aikens
- Matt King
- Rebecca Oliver
- Don Strawn … Leader, Calypso Band
- George-Ann Williamson
Miami and Key Biscayne, Florida, USA
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