Thursday, October 3, 2013

(Veronica Lake !?) Nazisploitation Movie Night # 4 - Flesh Feast 1970

"Creeping Crawling Flesh Eating Maggots !"

"Living Bodies Used For The Most Vile Experiment Ever Devised !"

    Veronica Lake of was one the more sad stories to emerge from the Hollywood dream factory of the 1940's. A combination of a domineering stage mother from hell, some tragically undiagnosed mental issues and an increasing dependence on alcohol all combined for a short sad career arc. Born Constance Frances Marie Ockelman in 1922 in Brooklyn NY, soon after the family relocated to Miami where she won several beauty contests as a child. After moving to Los Angeles her mother enrolled her in acting classes and after some bit parts Paramont signed her to a contract with her big breakout coming in 1942 with This Gun for Hire, Sullivan's Travels, I Married A Witch & The Glass Key. Although instantly popular with audiences with her "peek-a-boo" hair style (take a look at Jessica Rabbit & Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential to see how much of an influence she was) and being a pin up favorite of G.I.'s by 1944 her star had begun to fade. Suffering from untreated & ignored manic depression, she was saddled with the "difficult to work with" tag and began to drink heavily. By the early 50's with her movie career over (and three failed marriages - one being to director Andre De Toth) she worked sporadically in theater & TV, finally ending up working as a barmaid in a NYC hotel.

    At some point in the mid 60's she settled in Hollywood., Fl. and began working on her autobiography. Its here that she somehow hooked up with low budget filmmaker Brad F. Grinter (who in 1972 would unleash the mind boggling Blood Freak ). One has to wonder about the circumstances of their partnership (she co-produced Flesh Feast). Lake no doubt needed money and Grinter could deliver a cheap movie and low budget horror films at the time had reputation for hopefully making back a quick buck. Although made in 1967 the movie was not released until 1970 (coincidentally the same year Lake published her tell - all biography). 

   Sadly by 1967 Lake's once beautiful features had been ravaged by years of alcohol abuse. Although only 45 at the time of filming her bloated face and bad teeth make her look at least 10 years older. Lake plays Dr. Elaine Frederick who has a rather unorthodox method of skin rejuvenation - flesh eating maggots which she herself breeds and controls by flashing psychedelic lights on them. Dr. Frederick is working with Karl Shuman (Doug Foster) a gun runner who's working as a go-between to the Dr. and a group of Hispanic Nazis (?) who want to use her maggots to rejuvenate their aging "commander" (hey - guess who that is !) and put him in charge after a revolution in an unnamed South American country. 

   Director Grinter (who spends almost the entire movie sitting at his desk chain smoking and yelling at people) plays an investigative reporter who sends Kristine (Heather Hughes - also in  Blood Freak) to pose as a nurse in Dr. Frederick's clinic to investigate the strange goings on (no doubt clued in by the sudden influx of neo-Nazi Hispanics with German accents). To help out (and move the investigation along) Kristine periodically steals corpses & body parts from a nearby hospital for the doctor to try her maggots out on. Also there is Nurse Sharon (Dete Parsons - Mako The Jaws of Death 1976) who unfortunately is hooked on pills & booze and also happens to be in love with the one "nice" Nazi Jose (Bill Rogers - A Taste of Blood 1967). 

Veronica Lake & Maggots ?? WTF !!

   Before working on the commander the maggots are tried out on elderly Nazi Max Bauer (Chris Martell - The Gruesome Twosome 1967). The maggots work out stupendously and Bauer emerges with a much younger face. Unfortunately immediately upon awakening Bauer attacks Sharon, kills her and in turn is killed by Jose. Soon the commander is wheeled on a gurney for his maggot rejuvenation and is reveled to be none other then Adolf Hitler ! However as Dr. Fredrick's mother had perished in a concentration camp (as a guinea pig for these very experiments) she has a surprise concerning Der Fuehrer & the maggots.
   Very cheap looking and not a good movie by any stretch as the entire thing takes place on about three sets and what looks to be a garage along with a couple of wooden tables make up the lab, but it is entertaining in its low budget way and there is a somewhat perverse curiosity in seeing a former Hollywood glamour queen laughing manically while gazing at Tupperware trays full of squirming maggots. 

  In 1970 with the proceeds from her autobiography (in which she speaks fondly of Flesh Feast) Lake moved to England and after another failed marriage there returned to the U.S. in 1973 suffering from critical hepatitis. Checking herself into a hospital in Vermont she died of acute renal failure on July 7 1973 at the age of 50. After a sparsely attended memorial service in NYC her ashes were reportably scattered in the Atlantic Ocean, but as a final indignity a portion of the ashes and her urn were discovered in a second hand store in 2003 (where upon she was given a proper & well attended memorial service).
  I found this on a Beverly Wilshire DVD for $3.00 and it seems to be a direct copy of the old World Video VHS (complete with video rolls and tracking lines). Supposedly Mike Varney of SWV has the negative but can't release it because of a rights issue. 

"Hollywood gives a young girl the aura of one giant, self-contained orgy farm, its inhabitants dedicated to crawling into every pair of pants they can find"
                                                                                                 Veronica Lake


  1. This was a very entertaining read. You should really consider writing a book. I could help you get set up.

    1. Thanks Rob - that means a lot coming from you. I've been kicking around an idea for some kind of book (maybe someday).

    2. With Amazon, it is a lot easier than you think. And almost no start-up cost either.