Flesh for the Beast

Title: Flesh for the Beast (2003)
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Horror
Starring: Sergio Jones, Jennifer Litsch, Aldo Sambrell
Director: Terry West
Duration: 89 mins

A society of ghost hunters/psychics that is at a loss of funding is invited to a mansion by the mysterious John Stoker. This mansion was previously owned by occultist mobster, Alfred Fischer, and used to function as a whorehouse and place of black magic. The ghost hunters split up to search the house (naturally) with only earpieces connecting them to each other... supposedly. Soon enough, the guests are picked off by the malicious spirits of Fischer's whores (whom Stoker calls "carnex" or "carnivores of the nexus" and succubi) and the host Stoker is tormented by the spirits of past ghost hunters he had invited. But only he knows the secret behind the house and is willing to sacrifice his guests for the treasure that is hidden behind its walls.

Flesh for the Beast is a funny one to categorize. It is so bad, but delivers all the goods. From the start we recognize that it has a very European feel to it. The ambience, the location, the debauchery all pay tribute to Italian and Spanish films of the 70's and 80's. However, this could have been utilized more effectively if the direction wasn't TV-quality (where the actors stand static in one place in the middle of the screen, much like a sitcom). The exception here are the creepy exposition shots, but second unit stuff isn't usually worth mentioning. Thankfully, our ears are delighted with the eerie soundscapes, shredding metal, and avant-garde noise of composer Buckethead. His score more than makes up for the stock dinosaur sound effects used to indicate ghostly foreboding.

The acting, aside from Sergio Jones as "Stoker," is fairly bad. Or could it just be the goofy dialog played dead straight here and there, such as brilliant lines as "I come from a long line of hungry men," and "If you break my toys I'll get CROSS with you!" But what do you expect? Horror films are almost never actor-centered. After a gruesome opening, the film starts off kind of slow until the 32 minute mark. After that, it is non-stop mayhem. The story gets very repetitive from this point. Four characters go through the exact same demise: guy meets with very naked girl, they have kinky sex, girl turns into monster, monster tears the guy to pieces. All this with Buckethead porno music in the background. The film's coup de grâce comes in the form of a slow motion blood orgy in which the three naked whores dance and disembowel a corpse in the middle of a bloody pentagram. This is indeed the movie at its sleaziest, a scene that Spanish director Jess Franco would be most proud of.

The special effects of Flesh for the Beast are hit or miss. The gore effects are desirably disgusting and come in bucketloads. The creature effects, on the other hand, rubbery. The latex appliances are not blended with the actresses skin, so you can see plain as day where they end. Speaking purely on technicality, this film lacks substantially. But when looking at this as a Eurotrash inspired horror film, it's as good as gold. I could easily see Lucio Fulci, Jess Franco, or Joe D'Amato making Flesh for the Beast just as exploitive 25 years ago. A proper American homage to these masters of the underworld without being a pretentious knock-off or, God forbid, remake.

You can definitely do better than Flesh for the Beast, there's no argument. But you can also definitely see the filmmakers' love for horror translated onscreen. It's this crucial element that prevents me from hating on films that aren't quite up to par with the cult classics. Maybe it's just a horror geek thing, maybe for some strange reason I get it. FFTB was made for horror fans by horror fans. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.



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