Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Corpse Grinders (1971)

Covering satirical terrain so familiar as to be trite, The Corpse Grinders compounds its lack of originality with rotten acting, direction, production values, writing, and pretty much everything else. There’s a reason Ted V. Mikels shows up on lists of the worst directors ever, because while it’s true his pictures are odd, he occupies a queasy nether region between eccentricity and incompetence. His characters and themes are peculiar, but not genuinely perverse, and his filmmaking is generically poor. Anyway, the central joke in The Corpse Grinders, which aspires to be a comedy/horror hybrid, involves the transformation of dead bodies into cat food. Creepy grave robber Caleb (Warren Bell) steals cadavers and sells them to the proprietor of a pet-food company, who then runs the bodies through a meat grinder and packages the resulting bloody pulp. Consuming the meat drives cats mad, so they attack their owners. Although it’s not impossible to imagine some version of this premise being wickedly entertaining, getting there would require the comedic skill of, say, John Waters—or at least Roger Corman, whose contributions to the repurposed-corpse genre include the classic A Bucket of Blood (1959). Suffice to say Mikels is not on the level of those luminaries. To his credit, The Corpse Grinders has some kicky flourishes. Caleb’s demented wife spoon-feeds soup to a doll, the proprietor uses ASL to communicate with his one-legged cleaning lady, and so on. Yet these flourishes are not enough to compensate for this very dull picture’s shortcomings, especially since the tinny score sounds as if it was lifted from some old-timey shocker. Inexplicably, Mikels returned to the material by making The Corpse Grinders 2 in 2000 and The Corpse Grinders 3 in 2012. One assumes that Mikels’ death in 2016 ended the cycle.

The Corpse Grinders: LAME

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