The Spooktacular Eight #11: The Corpse Grinders (1971)

Let’s celebrate this Halloween (and adjacent) season with some aged cheese and wine, picking from the prolific film portfolio of good ol’ Ted V “step on me ass with stilettos please” Mikels, may his toy robot laden soul (and his mustache too) rest in peace.

We’re doing one of his more notorious ones too, the one that’s not Girl In Gold Boots nor the cheap plastic zombie masks classic, The Astro Zombies.

Yep, it’s time to go King Crimson (the band) on your culinary habits and unseal a can of killer cat movie (again), which if nothing else it’s a refresher in how making great posters that are way BETTER than the movies they advertise has always been a thing for exploitation flicks since forever, and not just a modern thing. The more things change, the more some don’t, i guess.

Seriously, if you expect to see anything as graphic (or disturbing) as what the poster depicting you’re dreaming, because that would be accurate and require money to make effects for, and this ain’t just the style or budget good ol’ Ted V. Mikels was known for.

Grindhouse on the ubercheap, so let’s just write some crap on the promotional poster, like “turning bones and flesh into screaming, savage blood death”, despite this being actually billed as a horror comedy…. or at least the Wikipedia entry describes it as a “horror comedy”, which baffles me since there’s no real comedic tone, zilch of it, just some mortician jokes in a sequence (and some self-aware writings on the plaques), by the same logic Conker’s Bad Fur Day it’s a rhythm game because it has the Great Mighty Poo singing number.

Not that there’s much of blood to spat around, maybe half a bucket (to be extremely generous) of fake blood to smear on the humans actors that have to pretend the kitties are going feral on their jugular. Despite the claims of the marketing, there’s somehow barely any blood and almost no proper gore, but plenty reuses of the brief clip showing processed meat coming out of the grinder into a feed bowl, you’ll see that 3 seconds clip A LOT instead of actual blood or gore. Slop but NO splatter.

so much for that “screaming blood death”, but at least it lives up to the title, there’s plenty of corpse grinding into a machine that wouldn’t look out of place in the alien spaceship set for an early Gamera film. As for why, the cat food company Lotus is in financial disarray, so they do what every company does in such a situation: taking the ending of Soylent Green as an inspiring one.

Yeah, they just start getting themselves corpses to grind into cat food, initially by paying a mountain man that lives in a literal house by the cemetery (not approved by Lucio Fulci) to dig up the dead from the surprisingly massive graveyard in the woods, then as their meat provider asks to be paid, the two creeps running the company decide to just start killing hobos, drunkards, whatever.

After all, it seems to work for them, as the sales pick up, alongside a taste for human flesh in the cats, that start attack and/or killing their owners, leading to a curious doctor-and-nurse couple to investigate on the strange feline bloodrage….

Gotta love how the doctor and nurse eventually try to infiltrate the pet food factory but get find out on the locked door, the company guys don’t kill them there and then (which is already stupid enough), the doctor and nurse go back, and he says “i’m satisfied even if you’re not ”, doing a Pontius Pilate.

It’s not often you see characters in movies just give up the plot half-heartedly because the lost interest or whatever. XD Not that anyone besides this random ass duo/couple seems to care too much about what you’d think should be a big deal, as in we have plenty of domestic cats just going feral on their owners after eating the cat food from Lotus. As in, killing them.

Or trying to do the nasty with some of the female corpses, because we can’t ever get away from that shit in any of these. At least it wasn’t a goat this time? I’ll take the fact an unsaddled bicycle isn’t involved and the other guy stopping him as some solace.

THAT aside, you’d think the whole “cat wants me-oh-w for dinner “ would call for more “cat action”, but nope, most of the movie it’s these two creeps going around buying corpses from this mountain man that just happens to live in a house nearby a graveyard, and when they don’t wanna pay him, just start killing random people like hobos, drunkards and chuckin them into the grinder. And two actors that seem to accidentally wander from a medical themed porno into this exploitation cheapie to investigate about people grinding corpses into cat food.

Because that makes SENSE, but then again this movie is choke full of stupid ass ridiculous scenes, the piece du resistance being that where one of the pet food guys get threatened by the mountain man (the one that gave them corpses in the beginning), gives him money and politely gets the mountain man’s gun from his hands… only to get his own gun to shot the guy with, literal seconds later.

That and him chasing the mountain man’s wife (which also keeps a creepy baby doll that she sits at the table and “feeds” some vinegar soup or whatever) in the woods, her overacting – especially the squawking and her death face – its indeed hilarious. XD

These scenes help making the movie somewhat watchable, despite the best acting being provided by the cats, the sets often being darker than needed to see properly what’s going on, and frankly even as a “so bad it’s good” it’s almost a write off, since the pacing it’s horrendous, the characters utterly boring and even with a runtime of 72 minutes it feels longer than it needs to.

BUT strangely there’s some entertaiment to be squeezed from it, the premise – despite being very badly squandered by the execution– it’s kinda original and cool, there are some weird memorable scenes and lines (plus the strangely sensible presence of a deaf mute disabled worker in the cat food factory that isn’t treated like shit, even by her bosses), and some vintage not-really-nudity.

The Corpse Grinders isn’t for everyone, but for how odd it may seem, this Herschell Gordon Lewis-style entry in Ted V. Mikels filmography is one of the better ones, and yes, it’s the obvious backhanded compliment it sounds like, but it’s also true, and it’s not too surprising that this is the better known of his flicks.

It’s not the more tedious one, for sure.

Not the worst feast for those who willing seek out 51 years old grindhouse cheapo classics, especially if they’re written by Arch Hall Senior of Eegah! fame.

If it’s better than Night Of The Thousand Cats… it’s another pile of canned trash.

Regardless, there is a sequel. a 30 years-ish later kind of sequel, but still, it’s a thing and it’s actally directed by Ted V. Mikels himself.



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