I Eat Your Skin
Starring: William Joyce, Heather Hewitt, Dan Stapleton, Walter Coy, Betty Hyatt Linton
DIR: Del Tenney
My Blurb: This entry will not include the movie blurb because it says too much from the beginning. But in addition to telling you that, there are a few things to say before we dive in - the first is a date inconsistency between the date given on IMDB and the “A Big Box Of Zombies” DVD collection. One states 1971, while the other states 1964. This is due to the movie having been shelved for several years after completion when it didn’t find a distributor. And as such, you can be forgiven for wondering just how bad it might be. It was finally released either in 1970 or 1971 (so even the IMDB date is at least questionable) as the bottom movie on a double bill with “I Drink Your Blood”, necessitating a title change from “Zombies” to the current title to fit with the double feature’s ‘theme’. Like with so many little, cheap horror films, it has other titles as well. The second thing to bring up is a warning that some of our screen caps may be hard on the eyes… this film was very obviously just yanked from a damaged print and dumped on the DVD by S’more Entertainment… an obvs cash grab company. We’ll have to make due.
Scene 01: We start immediately in the midst of a Haitian or similar ritual. There is a campfire and a lot of jerky-limbed dancing. A woman is brought before the Priestess and is stripped of her gauzy white gown down into a bikini. The young woman is white, as is some of the participants, so it’s nice to see that this Hoodoo is in multi-racial harmony.
The entire proceedings are under the watchful eye of the WitchDoctor reclining back.
Our ‘bride’ begins a dervish whirling and gyrating to the drum beats as everyone around her are take with the spirit of the ceremony. Like with all cheap horror [or sci-fi], the dance number goes on and on. A sacrificial goat is brought out before our ‘bride’ and the music and dancing is paused as our WitchDoctor hands over a machete to a Priest [obvs I am not versed in voodoo, so these designations are entirely my guessing at their actual roles… forgive me my ignorance]. The blade is brought down, presumably, on the back of the goat’s neck to a dramatic lightning and thunder strike.
CREDITS are Crediting. [And my first comment will be the theme music, which I enjoyed. It’s a little discordant when other instruments pile onto the voodoo drumbeat, but it’s not gratingly so. I also like the simple artwork under the new title… it would’ve been nice if the print actually included the entire “n” in the title, but let’s not ask for miracles here. In addition to the title not fitting in the screen scope, I also want to state that the credits do run a bit long as well, being frontloaded rather than listing everything afterward but the various artwork in the background lets you glide by it. Finally, I want to comment on the theme a bit more, because it really gets weird: There is an intermittent string instrument weaving through the music; I don‘t think it’s a guitar - it sounds more synthetic but I don‘t know my musical instruments. What I want to mention is how - BIZZARELY - the instrument is playing a jazzy variation on The Six Million Dollar Man theme! I swear it! Dah-dah-DAH-dah, DAH-Dah-dah-dah…!
Look, I’m not crazy… it’s there… and before the TV series.]
Scene 02: We come out of our really long credits to another variation on the theme. This one full of pep as we circle overhead of a Miami resort.
When we get to ground level, and take a walkthrough of the pool side area of a luxury resort where the 60’s version of the beautiful people mingle and swim as the house band continues playing.
Scene 03: Our focus is brought to a brunette woman in bikini and dark glasses sunning at the poolside.
Our idyllic setting is suddenly and jarringly interrupted by a narrator who give us a florid description of the effects of a beautiful woman on a man. [Oh, sure he says that his blood was suddenly rushing through his temples… but I think we know which head to which the blood was rushing.]
Our narrator is actually in-scene, as he’s not narrating about our Brunette after all. He’s actually telling a wild tale of passion to a group of women who are caught in rapt attention to our Romeo.
He hesitates to take a sip of drink, but the women want him to go on. He does… floridly. He speaks of the man’s beating pulse as he spots the alluring woman on the bed [and yeah, “temple” stands in for “penis” again]. It finally ends in a deep kiss of the woman nearest him, after he states that the man in his story felt like his “blood in his temple” would burst.
Scene 04: The kiss of Studly-Story-Teller [1960’s version] is interrupted by a man in a business suit. He goes on to quote the next paragraph of our Storyteller’s tale because it turns out that Story Teller is an author and he’s just quoting his previous novel. Brunette appears annoyed to find out that he wasn't making up a new story just for her on the spot, after all.
Our business man is actually Our Editor/Literary Agent and he’s pissed off because our Playboy hasn’t turned in a word for the new book he’s supposed to be working on in three months. He orders “Hairy Harris” to get off of his hairy can.
Scene 05: In the meantime, another suited man arrives. “Hairy” is actually Tom Harris and right now he’s being stink-eyed by our new arrival who marches over to where Tom continues making out with Brunette.
Brunette exclaims on seeing our new arrival coming over [in her bad actress way] that it’s her husband! She rushes away from the chaise lounge to try to stop her husband from beating the author for messing around with her, but he gives her a shove into the pool.
Tom tries to make tracks out of there, but he’s intercepted by cuckolded husband. The man takes a swing, but telegraphs it clumsily and he goes into the pool.
[I can assure you this is as “humorous” as you think it is… only less so. I can also state that despite the fact that it keeps sounding like Tom is addressing his editor as “Doug”, he’s actually saying “Dunc”… as in Duncan Fairchild.]
Scene 06: As Duncan and Tom make their escape, our philandering wife tries to get her husband out of the pool. He yanks her in, instead. [It remains a laugh riot… truly… *yawn*.]
Husband finally gets out of the pool and then helps her. He then pushes her off of him as she tries to cling for forgiveness and storms off.
Scene 07: Duncan gets Tom to the lobby where a porter is waiting with his suitcase and his typewriter to Tom’s complaints. Another hot woman arrives hoping she isn’t late and Tom introduces her as his secretary, despite the obvious that she’s not actually. He’s about to take her back to his room, when cuckolded husband chases after him and he’s forced to flee with Duncan, as the editor wants.
He’s chased away in a car that Duncan had hired to take him and Tom away… obvs ultimately to our voodoo-ish isle. Husband is sent face first into the ground as he tries to choke Harris through the car window, while Tom laughs at breaking up a marriage and soon-to-be-divorced-wife shouts after her husband that she’s sorry.
[Oh, Tom. You’re such a middle aged StudMuffin… for the 60’s, apparently.]
Scene 08: Tom and Duncan share a hearty laugh at philandering wife and cuckolded husband while they watch through the rearview window, as he chases after her, kicking her repeatedly in her cheating, bikini-clad ass.
Now that Duncan has Tom in his grasp, he orders the driver to step on it straight for the airport to Tom’s protest. Duncan relates that he met a very interesting fellow while playing cards in Monte Carlo who owns his own very remote island. It’s so remote, that even the owner could only approximate it’s location. He’s taking Tom with he and his wife to this island. He tells Tom that he’s finally starting on his next best seller.
Tom demands of the driver that he be let off. Duncan offers that he wants Tom to listen to the story he was told and if it doesn’t peak his interest, he can return to his hotel debauchery.
Scene 09: Duncan relates the tale of Voodoo Island. As Duncan relates the story about the cancer research going on at this island, Tom changes his shirt [uh… because we can’t get enough of sexy William Joyce… ehem…] and then further relates that according to the island owner, the voodoo-ists practice human sacrifice and there are rumors of the walking dead.
Tom is perplexed by Duncan’s plan to take his “voluptuous wife” who he claims to love and his “breadwinner” who he claims to be best friends with to some island overrun with zombies and human sacrifice all for the sake of a ridiculous book.
Duncan tells him there is one more thing he hasn’t mentioned yet. The virgin girls, just waiting for a sophisticated swinger to come along and “pluck them off their tropical vine”. Duncan tells him that Lord Carrington told him that a few years ago a hurricane caught most of the men out fishing and now the female to male population is about five-to-one. Duncan gaily laughs and laughs about this. Tom can’t pretend that his interest isn’t captured by the thought of a island of innocent, virginal girls anticipating the arrival of a hot, white stud to show them the ways of getting used and tossed aside.
It’s off to Voodoo Island!
Commentary: Oh, wow. Wow.
I’m trying to recall this is the 60’s and there is that whole horndog, swinger thing going on before it all goes badly in the 70’s when the drugs really hit everybody and the 80’s when the AIDS crisis hit. But… EWWWW. How can I get behind Tom as our hero when thus far we’ve seen nothing that makes him anything but repulsive. Forget the sexism… that’s a sign o’ the times. It’s just the… exuberance… at the idea of taking women’s virginity and then moving onto the next as a holiday that grosses me out completely. And Duncan is a dickhead. And… if Coral Fairchild is so “voluptuous” in Tom’s own words, why in the hell would Duncan let her within five miles of his “best friend”?
Scene 10: When they get to the airport, Duncan and Tom meet the former’s wife waiting with their bags, but having no idea what this trip is all about. Coral was interrupted in the middle of a winning run of Canasta and told to drop everything… by a messenger, not even by Duncan directly… and told to pack for a week and show up at the airport.
Duncan goes on to tell Cora about taking her to an island paradise because he loves her so greatly he wants to reward her and her “best lover” [I really wouldn’t joke around like that… not with Tom’s oozing all over the scene] with a week away. He tells her that they can spend the whole week lying in the sun and drinking exotic rum drinks.
There is a beat and then she tells him she could do that at home. He says, “Okay, Big Mouth, just get in the plane.” She gets an attitude at his talking to her like that, but he counters that if she doesn’t get aboard the plane he’s going to cancel all of her charge accounts in Miami, London and Paris.
[This is humorous… it is. It. Is.]
Commentary: So, thus far: Despite my aversion to Tom Harris and everything he represents about callous users, William is handling the acting well and I can see some bit of charisma when he’s smiling and laughing or being mildly sarcastic. And despite my quips about his supposed Stud-ness, he’s not a bad looking gentleman and he wears his tight slacks nicely so I’ve no complaints about the casting.
I’ve also found Dan to be moderately entertaining, especially when it becomes clear that his “voice of sophistication” is an affect put on for his personal wealth and not because he’s actually a blue-blood. I think he’s likeable enough, and the fact that he isn’t naturally aristocratic moderates what I had thought was a bit of overacting/stiff pronunciation of his dialog, so that was nice.
Betty’s character on first blush might be our problem. Her voice is a bit grating and if she’s being set up to spend the whole film complaining, her scenes are going to be torturous to sit through.
The entire set up hasn’t been awful, except for the assumption that we’re supposed to find Tom Harris to be funny, charming and sexy like a deep discount James Bond in author form but I really have to question spending over 13 minutes just to get our characters taking off in the plane for the main location of the film. Still, so far at least, the film seems better made than the 3.1 of IMDB’s score suggests.
Scene 11: As the small plane taxis into the air, Coral wonders what in the world she’s doing there.
Montage of the plane in the air. Sometime later, Tom and Duncan are concerned as the pilot doesn’t see any island where Lord Carrington assured them it was approximately located. In the meantime, fuel aboard the small plane is becoming critically low.
They spot an island, though whether it is the correct one is anybody’s guess right now. The Pilot offers that he’ll try to make it as they’ve been burning through the emergency tank and when the gas is gone, it’s gone.
Tom Harris, who apparently is quite the pilot as well as being an author, takes over the controls to try to get them to the beach for an emergency landing. They make a rough, but successful landing.
Scene 12: After deplaning on the beach, Tom goes to find assistance from a house he spotted from the air. In the meantime Duncan and Coral snipe at one another mostly good-naturedly.
Enrique the Pilot stays with the Fairchilds… poor man.
Scene 13: Tom wanders through palm groves along a well-trod path. [Judging by the shots of snakes, I think we’re supposed to assume this is wild jungle… it clearly isn’t.]
He comes to an inland lake, where a hot white chick in a bikini is swimming. Tom immediately starts hyperventilating at the thought of more sex.
But oh noes! A creepy, tall black man is watching her too… but it’s not what it appears (racist, what with the scary music starting as we see his feet and slow pan upward for maximum creeps) for this poor man has a totally effed up face. With ping-pong eyeballs.
Between more shots of our bathing beauty smiling in the luxurious tropical waters, we see our poor effed up faced man begin stalking his way toward the water’s edge.
Scene 14: Tom spots the lurker and shouts a warning, causing hot white chick to swim for safety. At the same time, he leaps into the water and swims across the small lake but when he reaches the shore both hot white chick and effed up faced man aren’t seen. [Tom, no doubt, nertzes his bad luck in not being able to play the hero and score some grateful poon.] We see our zombie, for lack of a better word, eye-spying on Mr. Harris.
Scene 15: While Tom dashes off into the “jungle” to look for either the stalker or the stalkee, elsewhere a fisherman is pulling his boat into shore. Tom runs across him next and mentions the plane landing and asks for assistance. Our helpful fisherman leads Tom toward the main house, accompanied by voodoo drums out in the forest.
The fisherman tells Tom that the natives are gearing up for a sacrificial ceremony. Tom, remembering Duncan’s second hand tale, asks nervously about the nature of the sacrifice but the fisherman claims ignorance.
[Also, it appears that sometime during the walk between the lakeshore and this small inland beach, Tom’s super-quick-dry clothing has shown itself to be worth the money he spent on it.]
Scene 16: Our bug-eyed zombie continues tracking Harris. Tom hears himself being followed and [uh, heroically] pushes fisherman behind a tree. He readies his gun.
[Oh, my god. That was unintentionally hilarious considering Tom Harris’ horndog personality: You see, the fisherman dude is bending over behind the tree with Tom standing elevated on a mound at its base. Doing so gave the fisherman the illusion of standing with his face a bit too close to Tom’s crotch. Tom spots the zombie coming toward them and reaches out. He places a hand on the top of fisherman’s hat and it looks like he’s going to shove fisherman’s face down onto his crotch! Fisherman’s like “no-go” though and stands up and takes a step back.]
Zombie is carrying a machete as he blunders his way right into our Tom and fisherman. Tom tries to hit Zombie in the head, but misses. They wrestle. Fisherman, alas, gets a machete to the neck which cuts off his head [his neck stump goes on screaming in horror for a second or two after his head has come off; there is also remarkably little blood-- like none].
Zombie takes four to the chest from Tom’s gun, but this doesn’t stop him. He tries to machete Tom next, but buries the blade into the tree. At the same time, we see a group of four men in a jeep barreling along. When Zombie hears the jeep honking, he runs off. It’s a save for Tom.
Tom hears the men calling for Mr. Fairchild and comes out of the woods… er, jungle. He’s greeted by Mr. Bentley once he clarifies who he actually is. Bentley apologizes for what Harris had to go through, explaining that our Zombie is a berserker that they’ve been trying to capture for the past week after the man went insane and killed his family… and now fisherman. For some reason, Tom spends the entire time being saved acting pissy and angry like it’s Bentley’s fault there is a “homicidal maniac” hiding in the jungle. Bentley remains friendly and upbeat despite Tom’s attitude problem and ungratefulness.
Commentary: So, I suppose now is as good a time as any to talk about our Zombies. We’re going to find out these are medical experiment zombies which are basically going to fulfill the role of the Voodoo Zombie: I.E. they’re not undead and they‘re being controlled.
This creates a logical flaw when we have to figure out how radiation makes people immune to having their lungs perforated by bullets as we’ve just clearly seen. But, overlooking the b-movie trope and coasting with it, let’s talk about our makeup job instead. I think that the zombie effect takes too harsh a ribbing by other reviewers as a cheap jab at the movie’s budget. I actually don’t find them to be all that silly looking, honestly. The eyes are a bit ridiculous and could’ve been left out of the makeup but I did like the “scarring” of the chest. The face burns are really where I feel the makeup job fails completely. It’s simply overdone to such an extent that the zombies look more like they dunked their face in some burnt oatmeal.
So, overall, I’d still call the zombie makeup effect a failure but it’s an interesting failure on a low budget and not nearly as laughable as others find it, in my opinion. I could see where this effect would’ve been much more thrilling if they left it more to the imagination by only showing the zombies from deep shadow, instead of giving us the full view in bright sunlight, so that’s on the director.
On our first confrontation with the zombie: The choreography is a bit clumsy and it really fails to set Tom up as the big hero that the rest of the movie has been trying to set up for us. And Harris is just a problem character because he’s consistently being written as a suave, sexy hero who is ready to leap into action. But he’s coming across as a callous user whose also a prickly, ungrateful jerk. This scene is a real issue in that regard, because Tom’s anger at Bentley is so misplaced and his glaring at the man’s back when he’s leading him to the relative safety of the main house just makes me want to punch him in the nose. I don’t understand this acting choice.
Scene 17: Bentley sends his extras into the jungle to see if they can pick up their maniac’s trail, while he escorts Harris with the jeep to the main house. In the meantime, we see Zombie spying still, having not gone far.
Scene 18: Back at the beach, Enrique is soaking his feet in the ocean. He’s confronted by a group of farmhands with machetes and takes refuge in the plane. This is very quickly resolved by the timely arrival of Tom and Bentley in the jeep to explain the situation to the plantation hands that they’re expected at the main house and they’ll find a way to deal with the plane on the beach later.
Several long moments are spent with introductions. Rovi and the extras are told to roll the plane up further on the beach and tie it down, while Bentley takes everyone to Lord Carrington’s estate, over which he acts as the overseer for the Lord.
Commentary: Y’know, with that plane’s wheels stuck in loose sand, Rovi and the men coulda probably used the Jeep’s assistance in pulling it up onto the beach you dumbasses.
Scene 19: At the house, Coral tells Bentley what a wonderful house he has… it’s so TROPICAL.
[Except of course, it’s Lord Carrington’s house. And shut up Coral, you’re annoying.]
They’re shown to their rooms by Clarita, the housekeeper.
Scene 20: Afterward, while Coral is taking in the tropical sunset [she just loves the word “tropical” and can’t use it enough], Tom tells her and her husband that something very weird is up on this island. He starts to tell them about the weird maniac he ran into, but then notices Clarita still there.
He asks her about the rumor of a sacrifice being carried out that night, to which she claims ignorance. She offers to show Tom to his own room now.
Scene 21: As he’s being escorted to his room, Tom spots a door mysteriously swinging as if someone had just been standing behind it, spying on him.
[Or it’s a breeze and he’s become instantly paranoid due to his run in with that machete wielder.]
Scene 22: We get a shot of the setting sun over a cloudy horizon. In his room, Tom Harris has changed for dinner and cocktails. In the living room, he meets the hot chick from the inland lake who is currently playing the piano.
She’s Jeannie Biladeau, daughter of Dr. August Biladeau. Somehow she’s so into her music, she fails to sense Tom right at her back, doesn’t hear him sit down on a wicker chair, doesn’t see his foot in her peripheral vision as he crosses his legs and doesn’t smell his cigarette. She’s quite dedicated to her piano.
He startles her by cutting off her playing with a slow clap [Um… isn’t a slow clap usually meant sarcastically?].
She laughs that he frightened her. He apologizes with “what heaven did you drop out of”, which she immediately pegs as a crappy pickup line, as she’s familiar with his work. She tells him that she’d hoped he’d be more original in person [and thereby gaining some immediate good will from me].
He tries another flirty line about being naked before the world as a writer but she laughs this off as well and asks for a cold drink. [She’s kind enough not to mention that unless the man is airbrushed and really buff, which Tom isn’t, we tend to only look goofy naked. Tom, you’re going to look goofy naked.]
At the bar, she makes formal introductions. She also shares that her father is doing research and Tom acknowledges that he’s heard that. She [clumsily struggling with her lines -- re-shooting must’ve been too expensive] asks what Tom is doing visiting the middle of nowhere, and he smooth talks that he’s there to find her.
She [only politely, I hope] grins and smiles [inanely] through his spiel. But she does point out that it was a pretty tacky line.
Scene 23: We’re finally rescued when Charles Bentley arrives with Dr. Biladeau in tow.
August mentions Harris being there for background for his next novel and mentions how he’s gotten a good start with the previous incident. Tom immediately gets pissy and says he’d rather that he just have that incident be fiction. In addition, he tells them that there was something “unnatural” about the native who attacked him and killed the fisherman [it was a genuinely nice surprise that the anonymous fisherman was remembered and mentioned -- usually in b-movies the dayplayers are forgotten the second they’re not on screen anymore].
Tom makes mention of the weird skin and eyes and brings up the rumor that Duncan relayed through Lord Carrington’s tales of the walking dead roaming the island. August and Charles share an uncomfortable glance. Dr. Biladeau claims that the results he’s seen that day are from a very toxic native plant that the native population has used for centuries for the same effects as they use alcohol. But abuse of the substance over a prolonged period of time causes a chemical reaction in body tissue, and of course destroys the mind.
Scene 24: The Fairchilds and Enrique arrive late, missing cocktail hour but are just in time for dinner.
Scene 25: As the dinner party gets underway, Zombie wanders outside the great house [in some of that wonderfully obvious day-for-night; really, after so much exposure I’m starting to wish that I lived in a day-for-night world].
Scene 26: After dinner, everyone has their smokes. They argue over the merits of a good cigar vs. cigarette [I prefer pipe tobacco myself]. It sounds like Duncan may be a bit deep into the cocktails, too.
They retire to the sitting room so Clarita can clear the table. As they do so, the voodoo drum music drifts in from out in the jungle. Tom asks about it, and mentions the sacrifice that was supposed to be occurring that evening. Charles poo-poos the notion. He claims the natives just like to beat on drums and dance for entertainment, like their version of going to a nightclub.
Tom asks about the name of the island, but Charles tells him that any practice of Voodoo on the island these days is completely harmless. Tom remains skeptical about that. Harris next brings up the collection of Bentley’s books on the local religions and customs for the area [Um… how big is this island and how many cultures, religions and customs can there be … How can there be an entire “collection” of books about it??]. Tom expresses interest in perusing the library, which Charles is happy to share as the local customs are one of his interests.
August and Charles retire early as they both have early morning work. Harris expresses an interest in seeing August’s lab if visitors are allowed, but Charles deflects Dr. Biladeau’s need to answer by suggesting an island tour after his morning field duties.
Commentary: One of the things that is bothersome about our scripting is Tom’s nearly pathological suspicion about human sacrifice taking place. It feels really out of place because the set up was so ridiculous: Lord Carrington, the frickin’ owner of the island and overseer of everything on it tells Duncan about the natives’ habit of practicing such sacrifices … now wouldn’t that be something that he’d have put a stop to immediately? I mean forget the morals of interfering in other cultures and apparently buying up their whole island out from under them and what not. The fact is that it happened already sometime in the past. I find it completely unbelievable that the human sacrifices wouldn’t be assumed to be a relic of their past way of life by this point and would’ve been spoken of in those terms.
With this presumed, because it doesn’t make sense otherwise unless Lord Carrington is one helluva blithering idiot, why would Tom ever think that these white people and their South American [everyone speaks Spanish and we’re in the Caribbean or further south, somewhere] workers would just be blithely living next to tribes of killers? Why would anyone think that would work?
So, given these assumptions to make the story and characters sensible, why wouldn’t Charles simply tell Tom that the sacrifices these days are farm animals like goats and chickens to bring the good fortune of the Loa and leave it at that?
It’s simple, it’s something that they’d assume to be accurate and mostly it’s just sensible for this point in the story. Tom Harris’ insistence on talking like they’re all in danger of being sacrificed by the wild natives is just sounding asinine [not to mention ignorant and racist to boot]. The script is really badly structured here to make Tom’s suspicions right and the other white people duplicitous in covering it up due to the Doctor’s experiments but there isn’t a foundation for any of this right now. It’s too short-hand to have Tom nearly calling them liars to their faces that sacrifices aren’t taking place and it’s stupid for August and Charles to claim that they aren’t when the ready explanation that voodoo utilizes animals in their rituals is sitting right there to diffuse the entire situation with Harris until he finds out later whether secret human sacrifices are happening.
Scene 27: The Fairchilds retire to the bar for more drinking, while Jeannie is the next to beg off for having had enough for one evening. Tom asks Ms. Biladeau to take a walk out in the gardens.
At the bar, Coral hints at being horny to her husband. He waves this off for more drink.
Scene 28: In the beautiful day-for-night night, the Zombie follows along as Jeannie and Tom think nothing of wandering around the expansive yard away from the house, despite what happened earlier with the “homicidal maniac” who is still running loose somewhere in the area.
Tom and Jeannie mention the gorgeous moon out tonight [of course we don’t see it, because… PUH-LEEZE, bitches -- you’re fooling nobody].
Harris asks Biladeau about getting lonely with nobody her age on the island. She tells him she does sometimes, but she has her interests to keep her occupied most days. In the meantime, Zombie continues following along and keeping an eye on them.
Commentary: I wanted to give Heather Hewitt a pass with that first awkward scene because Jeannie seems like a genuinely nice woman and she’s smart enough to recognize Tom’s lines for what they are. But we’ve seen more of her now, and… well… all of her dialog feels like she’s repeating her lines in her head before saying them, so that when she does get them out, it’s still awkward. It feels like Heather isn’t relaxing into her role.
Scene 29: As our twosome continue talking, we see that Zombie has been joined by two more of the transformed. Tom talks about maybe her visiting him sometime in the future, but Jeannie expresses that she doubts her father would ever get off the island, so that’s where she’ll be for the foreseeable future.
[Whoa, there Girlfriend! He was just talking about a visit, not moving in! And Jeannie already stated that she visits San Juan about twice a year, so his suggestion that she visit with him isn’t such a big request. Hmm… or maybe it’s just being sly. Maybe, despite her pretense, she’s just saying in her head: “Oh, hell no you horny pig!”
Yeah. I like that and I’m going with it.]
Somehow, Tom has melted her reserve [I guess she really is lonely for a middle-aged white guy?] because as the zombies slip up on them, they’re caught flatfooted in a passionate make out session.
Tom is double-fisted over the head and stunned, allowing Jeannie to be dragged off. He recovers and punches out one of the zombies who tried to bludgeon him again, and goes off to the rescue.
Scene 30: He’s able to snatch up a tiki torch hanging out lit in the jungle. He uses one end to bludgeon Zombie Stalker, while zombie dayplayer takes the flame portion to the face.
They make a quick dash back to the house, with Zombie Stalker on their trail.
Scene 31: All three zombies recover enough to convene outside of the grand house but before they can bust in to retrieve their quarry, they’re called off by our male voodoo priest.
In the living room, Jeannie is near hysterics. Bentley comes in to the disturbance and evinces shock that so many of the natives had been abusing the narcotic. He offers to post guards around the house for the night and go after the drugged-out attackers in the morning.
Tom demands an answer to what the men with the weird faces want with them. Charles sends the others upstairs and tells Tom that he doesn’t know the specifics of the islanders religion [despite his interest in that very subject??] but offers that one of his books describe a situation where another tribe in the past had been treated for a deadly disease by a white doctor with a daughter, much like the Biladeaus. The descendants of that tribe our the current generation of the islanders. Those descendants had taken the doctor’s daughter and sacrificed her while the doctor was working in his lab on the actual cure. The tribe, of course, believed that it was the daughter’s being sacrificed to their gods that saved them. Charles broaches the idea that perhaps the islanders are falling on the more ancient superstitions, regarding Jeannie’s life as the cure to the current addictive epidemic.
Tom reminds Bentley that he said the current voodoo practices were harmless, but Charles is suddenly not sure what to think.
Commentary: It’s basically assumed that despite Jeannie clearly being in her twenties that she’s still the “blond virgin” that the natives might seek for this cleansing ritual. I find that a bit of a presumptuous assumption in the first place, but I also wonder why the script was so focused on Jeannie being “pure”. Surely the natives wouldn’t let her experience stop them from trying the sacrifice anyway if Tom and Charles’ assumption is true. What’s more, with Tom being himself, all I could think is this is an excuse for him to slip into her room to deflower her “to save her” and it’s all just sleazy-ew.
Especially since our very next scene is Jeannie laying in bed.
Scene 32: So Jeannie is lying in bed when she senses somebody coming into her room. She sits up with a startled gasp, but it isn’t a zombie come for her again. It’s just a sleazy horndog.
Jeannie orders Tom out of her room, but Tom is there to warn her after his talk with Charles that she’s in serious trouble. He invites her to leave the island the following day with he and the Fairchilds. She naturally won’t leave without her father. And her father would never leave his work, even for her.
Tom can’t understand that attitude and yells at her that he doesn’t even know why he’s involving himself in something that’s none of his business [I answer “for the sex with a virgin” fantasy, and scowl at him]. She doesn’t answer, “I don’t either” but apologizes for upsetting him when he’s only trying to help her.
They deep kiss with her telling him that she needs him. He carries her back to her bed. They do it.
Commentary: And the problem I’m having now isn’t the story or the acting, but the music. The opening theme has been re-used and re-used and re-used throughout and it’s really getting grating. The theme itself isn’t bad, at all. But you can’t keep using it at every juncture and not have it wear on the nerves and this movie apparently doesn’t know that.
Scene 33: Out in the jungle, the voodoo drums start playing again and we get another ritual with chanting, dancing and the Loa influencing the people. All of it is again overseen by the WitchDoctor in silence. The ritual is interrupted by lightning from the heavens. The Priest addresses the WitchDoctor about this omen, but unless you speak Spanish, you won’t understand what is being said. What you can understand, is that this guy in the WitchDoctor get-up is looking awfully Caucasian under the face paint.
It makes one wonder if somebody at the house isn’t more involved with the locals than has been let on.
Nearby a decidedly not villager is spying on the proceedings and not liking what he sees.
Scene 34: The following morning, Tom has decided to work on that book that he owes Duncan in the beautiful morning outdoors. This necessitates shirtlessness -- As I’m sure you authors already know.
Bentley returns in the Jeep with a guard, no doubt having made another sweep for the offending Zombie or one of the other zombies but apparently with no success. He and Harris exchange pleasantries and speak about the story he’s working on.
Charles suggests that with everything happening recently around the plantation, it would be a good idea for Tom and his party to leave the island as soon as it can be arranged. Tom is way ahead of him and tells him that Enrique the Pilot is looking to secure fuel for the airplane. Tom then reminds Charles that he promised him a tour of the Doctor’s lab [which no he didn’t… in fact he steered the conversation away from the doctor’s work] but Bentley now tells him plainly that the lab is to be considered off limits.
Commentary: One wonders if it could be Dr. Biladeau behind the WitchDoctor mask, as if I’m not mistaken the hair style would be right. And since he’s got a lab that no one is allowed near, we can presume mad doctoring is taking place.
Scene 35: After Charles has made his exit, the Fairchilds show up. After some mild flirting with Coral, Tom decides to take a break and explore. Duncan mentions that sounds like a bad idea, considering the abduction attempt on Jeannie the night before but Tom is determined to find out what is going on around there. He tells Duncan that he and Coral should be ready for take-off at 3pm, as Enrique is seeing to the fueling of the plane.
Nearby, Clarita takes this all in with shifty eyes. As Tom leaves, she follows along practically stepping on his heels. Nobody notices.
Scene 36: In her room, Jeannie is sleeping the sleep of the satisfied. A shadow passes over her and she wakes up. She smiles. It’s Tom. They make out some.
Jeannie tells Tom that she’s thought about his proposal the night before and has decided to ask her father to leave the island with them. He offers to go with her.
Scene 37: Our new couple gallivant through the woods… y’know, while the “homicidal maniac and stalker” is wandering around still. Tom naturally does so with only the last button on his shirt done up.
They reach the ceremonial grounds where the hoodoo has been taking place. Jeannie tells Tom that she’s never seen this place before. Tom recognizes some of the symbols at an alter as being used in Voodoo sacrificial rites from the books he’s been pouring through.
A moan from off-screen puts him on high alert. Thankfully, he didn’t leave the house without his gun. As they check out a hut, they’re being spied on by Priest.
After lighting up a torch to illuminate the pitch dark hut, he find our Zombie standing against a wall. And he’s not alone, there are a half dozen of them -- all standing in a state of rest and not disturbed by either their entry or Jeannie’s screams. Tom insists now that Jeannie is coming with them when they leave, no arguments. They rush off toward her father’s lab.
Commentary: Okay… this makes zero sense. They were already headed toward the doctor’s lab… why in hell would Jeannie happen to stumble over this ceremonial ground if she never has before when visiting her dad?
Unless she’s in on whatever secrets are going on and she’s just pretending right now -- but even if that were the case, why blow the secret of the zombie resting place and grounds to Tom Harris right now? Either way -- innocent victim-to-be or conspirator, there isn’t any purpose in the script’s having Tom stumble onto this place.
Scene 38: Doctor Biladeau’s lab turns out to be underground in an old bunker base used to protect the bay with heavy guns during - presumably - WWII. They gain entry.
Tom spots someone following and rushes them inside, leaving the door cracked. When their stalker - who in this case turns out to be one of the plantation workers - opens the door, he’s greeted by Tom’s manly fist of fury.
It turns out that Fernando was actually following them to warn Jeannie that she must leave the island. He gives a warning that the Miss is in great danger but his explanation of such leaves much to be desired before he rushes off. Tom and Jeannie return to the task of warning the doctor that they’re not safe.
Commentary: And this is really cementing for me that Heather Hewitt just wasn’t ready to play a damsel in distress. She’s fine when she’s smiling and happy, but trying to make us feel her fear is not working out. Her dialog continues to come across as stiff and unnatural. It’s just not working.
Scene 39: Just inside, there is a room behind a door in which Tom finds voodoo outfits and artifacts. They proceed down the lab stairs.