Friday, August 10, 2012

Flesh for the Beast (2003)

In the last decade, Media Blasters was one of the most beloved names for genre fans. Sure, they were releasing plenty of anime, as well as the cult animated series "Invader Zim" on DVD, but for the rest of us, the fact that movies from all kinds of sub-genres (zombies, cannibals, post-apocalyptic science-fiction-you name it, they put it out) and directors (Fulci, D'Amato and Lenzi for example) was almost like a God send. So, it made sense for them to, if I could paraphrase Lloyd Kaufman for a moment, "Make Their Own Damn Movie." So, 2003 brought us their first official film, "Flesh for the Beast."

John Stoker (Sergio Jones) has invited a team of paranormal investigators to check out the notorious Fischer Manor, where the evil Albert Fischer (Aldo Sambrell) practiced black magic. Since this is a horror movie, this turns out to be a great idea, as nothing bad happens. By that, I mean that the investigators find themselves being attacked by a trio of Succubus, as well as zombies and the dark past of the house coming to the present.

It's clear that "Flesh for the Beast" was made by people who love the genre, right down the the names of some of it's characters (Stoker, Ketchum, etc.) and the fact that it tries to squeeze every ounce of bent eroticism, splatter happy gore and atmospheric settings on display. Well, apart from a good score from Buckethead and a fun cameos from Sambrell and Caroline Munro, there's nothing here to write home about. None of the other performances are up to task-in fact, they are downright dreadful, as you just wish that everyone in it would die already. It's also poorly directed by softcore vet Terry West, who doesn't seem to understand how to shoot scenes or build anything resembling atmosphere. He just films the whole thing in a dull, lackluster way.

This leads me to my biggest problem with the movie: for all the love of European genre films (Fulci and Rollin in particular seem to be influences), it feels more like a synthetic imitation than a serious homage. You can tell that writer and director West loves those films, but watching this, it feels like he doesn't understand what it is that makes them so appealing. You have to do more than throw in tons of sex, nudity and gore to make an effective horror movie of this type. You need at least the vaguest sense of a plot, gore that doesn't look fake and an atmosphere of hopelessness and fear to make it work. This has none of that.

In the end, fans of European genre films will feel cheated by "Flesh for the Beast", while more casual genre fans will more than likely be bored. Just watch something like "Demons" or "Anthropophagus" instead.

Rating: 2/10

As for Media Blasters-they're still kicking around. In fact, they just picked up the latest from Noboru Iguchi, which is called "Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead." They aren't releasing as many older genre movies these days apart from "The Story of Ricky", some Godzilla movies and re-releasing some of their older titles ("Burial Ground" and "Beyond the Darkness") on Blu-Ray.

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