Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Flesh Eaters

Go To

The Flesh Eaters is a 1964 American low-budget Sci-Fi Horror film written by Arnold Drake and directed by Jack Curtis.

An actress, her assistant and their pilot are stranded on a deserted New England island by a storm. However, it turns out not to be so deserted after all. You see, a Mad Scientist has been conducting experiments there to make flesh-eating creatures and sell them as biological weapons. And the creatures have gotten loose...

This film is best known for being one of the first splatter films and for inspiring George A. Romero to make Night of the Living Dead (1968).


This film contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Winters is such a drunk that Murdoch makes a crack about her booze being her lunch, and nobody treats it like an exaggeration.
  • Antagonist Title
  • Arms Dealer: Bartell's endgame is to sell the flesh eaters to the highest bidder.
  • Big Bad: Professor Peter Bartell, a Mad Scientist who seeks to sell the flesh eaters for profit.
  • Closed Circle: The protagonists are trapped on a deserted island with water full of flesh-eating microbes. Their only way off is a plane that's damaged and can't fly. Also, there's a tropical storm pounding the island. The plane is fixed and the storm dies down, but Bartell ends up sending the former adrift to maintain his scheme. Soon after, the circle gets more closed when Bartell draws a line around the island to mark where the tide ends.
  • Advertisement:
  • Dated History: Murdoch mentions Christopher Columbus as the discoverer of America, which is not the case but was considered indisputable in 1964.
  • Gaslighting: Bartell takes advantage of Winters' drunken unconsciousness to set the heroes' plane adrift, and make everybody, including herself, think she did it.
  • Gold Digger: Murdoch tells of an encounter with an unusual example. His ex-wife had two other husbands before him, all three having been in the Air Force. Two of them had been killed in action, while Murdoch made it back alive. She had married all three hoping they'd die so she could get the widow insurance.
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death
  • Granola Guy: Omar, a guy who shows up on the island halfway through the film, is an eccentric hippie who personally makes sandals, is convinced that love is a great weapon, and tries to impart sapient motives on microbes.
  • Hollywood Acid: The flesh eaters act like an acidic Super-Persistent Predator, burning their way through whatever they must to get to any flesh they can detect.
  • Hungry Menace: The main antagonists are ravenous microbes that consume all flesh they can get.
  • Karmic Death: Bartell is eaten by the flesh eaters he spent the film studying with intent to sell.
  • Make My Monster Grow: Electricity makes the flesh eaters grow to gigantic size, each cluster becoming a Blob Monster bigger than a human.
  • Predecessor Villain: Bartell was not the first scientist to study the flesh eaters. In fact, they were engineered by a group of Nazis for the purposes of biological warfare, though the regime fell before they could be used.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Bartell has a parrot named Lewis, who has kept him company during his experience.
  • Shout-Out: Winters nicknames Murdoch "Gunga Din", along with making cracks about Bartell and Omar reminding her of Dr. Cyclops and Buster Keaton, respectively.
  • The Sociopath: Professor Peter Bartell, a scientist sent to study Nazi war experiments. When he discovered that some of them made flesh-eating microbes, he took the data and went to a deserted island for further research, putting the microbes into the water so he could study their attacks firsthand. When outsiders land on his island, Bartell pretends to be kind for long enough to stab them in the back.
  • Splatter Horror: One of the first films to use gore to scare people instead of suspense.
  • Stripped to the Bone: The flesh eaters remove all flesh from their victims, leaving a pristine skeleton behind.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Nazi scientists genetically engineered the flesh eaters as an attempt at a biological weapon, though the regime fell before they could use them. Bartell discovered the creatures when he was researching Nazi files for the US government.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The flesh eaters attacking a couple in the water.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: As it turns out, the only thing that can kill the flesh eaters is their nucleus coming into direct contact with blood. It's never explained how they reject all the blood of the flesh they eat.