The Scoop: 1971 R, Directed by Ted V. Mikels and starring Sean Kenney, Monika Kelly and Sanford Mitchell
Tagline: Bone-crushing terror! Spine-tinging chills! The Corpse Grinders turn bones and flesh into screaming, savage blood death!
Summary Capsule: Like Soylent Green, but with cats who really like people.
Heather’s Rating: A nightmare for the ailurophobic cinephile.
Heather’s Review: A few months ago I found myself poring over the DVDs in Fry’s Electronics and I made a great discovery: For a small fee, I can purchase screaming savage blood death at my local electronics store. Well I can’t let an offer like that pass me by, so I ignored the part of my brain that governs rational thought and purchased The Corpse Grinders and its “much-awaited sequel”.
The tagline is what got my attention, but it’s this hilarious plot that sent it flying into my shopping bag: Lotus Cat Food (“For Cats Who Like People”!) is in a financial bind and Mr. Landau (Mitchell) has to find a way to keep it afloat. Like all good businessmen he decides the best way to do this is by getting the local community more involved in the company. Like a bad businessman, he interprets “involvement” as “digging up the town’s dead and grinding them into cat food”. This new secret ingredient has given the cats who eat it a taste for human flesh, and they begin attacking (and in some cases killing) their owners.
One of these people-loving cats belongs to a nurse named Angie (Kelly) and her boyfriend Dr. Glass (Kenney). One night while at work in the world’s most unsanitary hospital, their unfortunately named Siamese, Baby-San, eats a can of Lotus food and someone offscreen tosses him onto- I mean he “attacks” Dr. Glass. Ruling out the possibility that his Reynolds-stache/poofy hair combo might have looked like a tasty bit of wildlife, they become suspicious of Baby’s preferred brand of ground-up crap.
A couple of owners die by snuggling their kitty too close to their vital organs, and when the second dead body rolls in Angie and Dr. Glass ask the survivor to bring in the corpse of the killer cat. Dr. Glass performs an autopsy on the corpse and determines that it has human flesh in its stomach. They pull a House and go snooping around in the dead woman’s home where they find a huge pile of Lotus cat food cans. This reinforces their suspicions of the Lotus company and they decide to start investigating. A random doctor and nurse, with no training in investigation, self defense, or common sense apparently, decide to go snooping around what they suspect to be a place where people are being turned into cat food? Unless this guy is secretly the doctor from Psychic Wars I can’t understand what he thinks he’s going to accomplish other than allowing Baby-San to finish her meal.
The plot is the kind of insanity that could have made it a “cult favorite” like it claims if the movie had gore, memorably bad performances, or a slightly threatening villain. Instead we have the usual z-grade movie issues: Dingy, grainy lighting, cotton-balls-in-the-mouth dialogue and a villain that isn’t menacing or even hilariously inept. The attack scenes are the worst flaw in this movie that promises cats murdering and eating people. I can only remember three killer cats, and their seconds-long scenes were made up of them trying to squirm out of the hands of the actress who was bear-hugging them. After they’re finally let go they leave behind a smear of red paint and their dignity.
The few redeeming qualities it has are in its bizarre dialogue and the workers at Lotus Cat Food. There’s the inept dummy who’s basically just there to mop floors; a deaf, mute woman with Raggedy Ann hair that only likes Landau, probably because he’s the only other person there who pretends that flailing your hands around is sign language; Maltby the short-fused, short-sighted business partner with a tendancy to do The Creep (ooooh); and Landau himself. He’s the most boring of all these characters, yet he’s the one we focus on. Not only does the actor deliver his dialogue with minimal emotion or facial expression, but the character is bland and honestly not a very cunning businessman. The owners of the cats eating this product are being murdered as a direct result of the ingredients he starts putting in there. It would take most people about two seconds to figure out that they’re literally killing their customer base. Not only that, but how is it cheaper to pay someone who may or may not betray you hundreds of dollars to dig up corpses that you then have to disrobe and feed into your grinding machine?
Just use corn with meat flavoring like most reputable cheap cat foods.
- You can hear the fog machine go off during the cemetery scenes.
- This DVD has Special Features, which is the original trailer and a commentary by Ted V. Mikels consisting of him chuckling to himself about how they still quote those weird lines to each other this day. It’s painfully boring, but I got some good Intermission material out of his ramblings.
- Why do they leave clothes on the bodies?
- Corpse Grinding for fun and profit!
- Epic mustache and boar’s tooth necklace. Well, you can’t see that in the movie but just look up a picture of Ted V. Mikels. He’s indescribably beautiful!
- This movie was mostly shot at the castle Mikels lived in at the time. Somehow they also talked Cecil B. Demille’s people into letting them shoot some of the movie at his place.
- Mikels also directed The Girl In Gold Boots, which most MST3K fans will recognize.
Caleb: Next time out, no money no meat. I want everything that’s coming to me next trip. Landau: Sure, Caleb. You’ll get everything that’s coming to you, just like I keep telling you.
Caleb: Don’t ever try and cheat me, Landau. I’m sure the cops would be real interested in what you’re doin’ with those bodies.
Maltby: They’re suspicious! I can feel it in my bones!
Landau: I’m sick of your bones!
Cleo: Do this, do that! One of these days when I’m dead and gone…
Caleb: You’ve come to the right place!
Landau: Don’t tell me you’re lonesome.
Caleb: Just my pocketbook.
Angie: Call it feminine intuition, call it anything you want, but I know the answer is in that pet food factory and I’m going down there.
Landua: Say goodnight.
Landau: Say goodnight, Maltby.
Maltby: Goodnight, Maltby.
Trailer narrator: Do you know what this is? It’s a corpse-grinding machine; a diabolical machine that turns corpses into screaming savage blood death!
If you liked this movie, try these:
- The Girl in Gold Boots
- The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies
- Soylent Green