The Corpse Grinders (1971)

The Corpse Grinders PosterIf you’re like me, you’ve often stayed awake at night worrying that the pet food you feed your no-good ungrateful cat might be made with ground up people. The Corpse Grinders takes this common fear and makes it into a movie about as good as you could expect when the subject matter is cat food.

As befitting the definitive film about humans turned into cat food, this is the special edition which means if you’re really demented, you can subject yourself to director Ted V. Mikels’ commentary on the filming of the greatest movie ever made about Soylent Green for pets.

To give you an idea of what type of flick you’re dealing with here, imagine an H.G. Lewis movie without all the gore or the panache (where non-acting is worshipped) that make those films so indelibly awful.

Mikels manages to make a sludgy concoction that isn’t offensive enough to be memorable and the level of gore is practically non-existent. In the end, you’re left with a movie that had a great title and infamous poster art, but upon actually seeing it, you realize it is about as low budget in execution as they come. (Could Lotus Cat Food have a dingier office? Could their corpse grinding contraption look more flimsy? There’s no way that thing could have ground coffee, let alone chicks.)

It’s a normal day in Dr. Glass’ office. He’s just come out of surgery after having lost his patient on the operating table. The very blonde and buxom Nurse Angie is there to console him, but in spite of his 1970s porn hair and mustache, Dr. Glass heads right to the glass cabinet where he keeps his medical supplies like swabs, pills, and whiskey.

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Dr. Glass knocks back some of what the medical profession refers to as “Code Blue Juice” and Nurse Angie tells him that it’ll be okay and not to take it too hard.

Also in the examining room with the nurse and the doctor is the nurse’s pet cat. The cat is eating some food and I think we’ve all been to the doctor’s office where they do operations on people in one room, while the staff’s household pets are being fed in another room.

The cat goes crazy and attacks Dr. Glass, clawing at his neck. This results in Glass chucking the cat to the ground and probably another trip to the “medicine cabinet” off camera. The nurse says something like, “gee, he’s never tried to rip out your throat before, doctor.” Yeah, well maybe he knew that guy that flatlined in the other room.

Over at the Lotus Cat Food company, sinister dealings are afoot. Two guys, Landau and Maltby are having problems with the help.

One guy named Willie is always trying to get in the back room. You know the room – it’s marked “Corpse Grinder In Use – No Admittance.”

I know that when I tell you that there is a locked room with a corpse grinder in it, that you’re asking me how in the hell can this not be super-cool?

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Because the corpse grinder is just a conveyor belt that leads into this large box-shaped object. There’s some buttons and levers and maybe some steel teeth in the front. At the other end of the box is a spigot where the ground meat is excreted. You don’t get to see anything happen except the bodies disappearing into the box.

Early on in the film, we are introduced to Caleb, the resident grave robber. He spends his nights digging up graves at the local cemetery and then resells the bodies to Lotus Cat Food at a profit.

It was a nice touch that Caleb’s wife came by his work site and brought him some food. And just what kind of wife does a guy who digs up graves for a pet food company have? The kind who carries around a doll and thinks that it’s a real kid!

Yes, this is one of those movies where people are given crazy characteristics in an effort to make the movie that much more “out there.” You know what would really be “out there?” Something more interesting than people making cat food out of corpses.

Back at Dr. Glass’s office, he and Nurse Angie hear another tale of a cat attack and realize that the city is being overrun with an epidemic of cat attacks, because when there are two similar events and one has happened to you, that makes it an epidemic.

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Dr. Glass plays around with some guts inside the cat behind the recent attack and somehow determines that there may be something human in it. Is this the nastiest doctor’s office you ever heard of or what?

Further investigation reveals the cat was eating Lotus Cat Food, just like Nurse Angie’s cat liked! This ultimately leads to a couple of undercover trips to the Lotus Cat Food plant that end in some welcome, but not entirely satisfying death and dismemberment!

The best thing I can say for this movie is that at 73 minutes, Mikels keeps things moving along. Unfortunately those things have to do with killer cat food, unconvincing cat attacks, and the scurviest bunch of people you’ve seen since the carnival last rolled into town.

The dude who plays Landau is kind of fun to watch because he’s one of those “don’t sweat it” guys whenever people keep snooping around and he kills people that get in the way of his business scheme with nary a second thought. He probably will also go down in screen history as one of the few screen villains that knows and uses sign language.

In the film’s most bizarre stroke (aside from ever being made at all) Landau has an old, deaf, one-legged employee that he has to sign to! Is the circus in town or what? She doesn’t figure into the plot much, but their scenes are the best in the film.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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