Bloodeaters (Forest of Fear, Toxic Zombies, The Crying Fields) Directed By Charles McCrann (1980).
--Reviewed by Rob Vertigo--
Before we get to the review, first let me tell you a little bit about my pal Rob, I tracked him down while searching for info on Chas Balun, Gore Gazette and Deep Red and found his excellent piece on Terminal Boredom about not only Chas but Mad Ron's Prevues From Hell as well! Obviously I knew I had to convince this dude that he must join up with the Guts team! Well, after more nagging and whining, plus this kitschy nostalgia week we've got going on totally convinced him and we finally got this review, which is nothing short of brilliant. We hope to see more from Rob, so stay tuned. Make sure you read his work on TB, Destroy all Movies (he wrote some reviews in that monstrous book) and check out his band MUSK!
It's a little tough to get into the swing of things here - waxing on about Up All Night - since it aired during my years of television void. The Vertigo family pulled the plug on our household cable sometime around 1988. That said, a lot of the aired films were recycled, rerun and rehashed from earlier late night spins and afternoon host shows such as Commander USA and Saturday Nightmares, and those were my jams. The hours I wasted watching such glorious trash as Horror of the Zombies, Terror on Wheels and The Brainiac are countless. I take that back. The Brainiac is total fucking Godhead. Anyways, one of the nut-bag messes I do recall seeing on a college break somewhere was Toxic Zombies. Or Bloodeaters. Or Forest Of Fear. Or Whateverthafuckyouwannacallit.
|Commander USA, actually showing this film!|
Shot on scraps of film left behind after Romero went to the mall, Toxic Zombies tries its best to pack a punch. Sadly its punch is about as hard hitting as a soggy bag of day old curly fries to the face. After scrolling through the jankiest digital titles seen by man (or at least since Wargames was released), it opens frame on a rural Pennsylvania dirt road. Hackneyed cheap synths pulse along as the lens follows a couple of mustachioed gun toting federal officers through the under-lit trees. Throughout this murky footage is inter-spliced segments of a bare breasted lass taking a bucket and sponge bath. Don't throttle your cock just yet, pervo. This here is the only nudity in the entire flick. Nudity - that I'm sure of - arrived very late in the game to secure an R rating. This topless soaped-up tart belongs to a group of free range Deadheads; only instead of them throwing wastoid tailgate parties, they're entrepreneurs out growing marijuana crops. The feds have been sent in to raid their camp. After clumsily shouting a warning they opt to shoot the freshly scrubbed gal, twice. Our federal "heroes" (?) are then ambushed, stabbed and garroted in a makeshift Manson family attack. Word gets back to the government about these missing agents and after some intensive acting chops via Martin's John Amplas, the higher-ups decide to call in an irritable, elderly drunkard to crop dust the woods. Inexplicably, this ol' coot has a stockpile of an experimental pesticide called Dromax in his barn. Perhaps this little factoid is explained, but between conversations with the barking government officials and his nagging housewife, it got lost in the chaos.
|I don't have a blood drinking problem, you do!|
Tom - the local outpost ranger - gets irritable when warned not to go fishing this weekend and throws his brother and wife into his station wagon, heading deep within the national park out of spite. Cue stock footage of bi-planes, a faux Goblin score and a bunch of powder burned dope farmers puking up blood. These fatally dusted growers return to their campsite acting like rabid possums; fighting, snarling and grunting at each other over a bucket of sudsy bathwater. This Dromax chemical has evidently gotten to the drunken pilot as well, who returns home, walks barefoot on glass shards and then throttles his ball-busting wife.The shivering hippies try to cut and run, but the pesticide effects take their toll, causing frantic sweats and a blood lust. The only two unaffected - the leader of the grow operation and his girl Friday - scurry off into the woods, trying to flee the frothing longhairs. Why is it in every film that features a lengthy forest chase, people stop to drink from a muddy creek like they're baby deer? It's odd. It's filler. It gives the feral pack of pursuers time to catch up. Off-screen screams and buzzing flies indicate our survivors ain't surviving so well. With them gone - and forty plus minutes still left to the running time - shit is gonna' get all Don't Go Into The Woods from here on out...
A family of campers are introduced. Father is a bland know-it-all that reads like a REI catalog. Mother is of the puffy mom-jeans, worrisome type. Understandable, since her children - Jimmy, a retarded teen that spends his screen time relentlessly clutching a stuffed squirrel and Amy, his older (a lot older, possibly 40) sister with a fungus obsession - wandered off sometime ago. Daddy doesn't seem bothered by the missing children and would probably be happily willing to chalk their deaths up as a trial of life. Mommy, on the other hand, won't shut up about their disappearance. During their argument, the zombified goons sprout up like Wack-A-Moles in the nearby brush carrying hatchets. The best response pops can rattle from his brainpan is to offer up some of their "nice beans" from the campfire - hell, the whole can if they'd like. The retard boy is better off without this family unit. He could learn more from the stuffed squirrel. Unable to sway these dusted monsters with tin canned perishables, the brave father pushes his wife out of his way and high-tails it into the trees. Wifey does a pretty good job fending for herself, lobbing a steak knife into the eye of an assailant. As for her cowardly husband? He gets his hands lopped off with a machete by the same baddie he just escaped - only seconds before - who now magically appears before him. The distressed mother makes it to a dirt road, stumbling across hapless victim number four. She shrieks for a ride at a man struggling with truck problems. After chucking her into his cab, this new found do-gooder fails to realize that anyone hunched over in the roadway, dripping with blood and twitching like a speedfreak is best left alone. Dipshit, meet the sharp end of an ax. Hysterical mom-jeans tries to flee, but acts as though she's never operated a vehicle made after 1832 while fumbling like a cripple along the dashboard, unable to turn the ignition key. Oh well. The froth-monkey eats her dumb ass throat, and we trudge forth.
|I just enjoy the salty copper taste of the jugular juice, man what's wrong with us?|
Our old friend, park ranger Tom is back. He's busy fishing for breakfast (gack) and ignoring the government pleas to keep of the grass. Literally. His wife complains a lot. His brother goes off looking for a pesky raccoon and stumbles upon the newly orphaned retarded Beanie Baby lover and his deeply aged sister. It's safe to assume they've been drinking from a creek as well. Tom packs everyone into his family truckster while his brother soothes the children's nerves by telling awful Pollack jokes. A rousing chorus of "Old Mac Donald" starts up, but is cut short by a raid consisting of a machete wielding, cannibalistic Crosby,Stills and Nash. The ranger takes them on with his ultimate fighting skills and fares alright, but his brother looses touch due to repeated blows to the head. What's left of this makeshift family caravan get back underway, searching for civilization. Burning trash is seen as beacon of hope.
The government realizes that crop dusting an untested pesticide in the hands of an alcoholic hillbilly was a terrible, terrible idea. Some men are sent into the thick to check for aftershocks. John "Martin" Amplas is back! Thank God. On their drive into the boonies, it is decided that it's best to just kill everyone off. This will spare the world of survivor memoirs and tell-all autobiographies.
Our woodland renegades come across the shack of another ol' coot (quite a few in them Penn State woods) and his finicky cat. They try to warn him of the impending dangers, but he'll take none of it.
"Mr. - I've lived in these woods all my life...I ain't never seen no cannibals".
So calm. So nonchalant. Fuck it. Feed his cat. Carry on.
He gruffly accepts them in for the night, unaware that the bloodeaters are hot on their heels.
The creatures ambush the farmhouse ala' Night Of The Living Dead. Outside Pittsburgh, that's just what ya' do. With torches and rifles in hand, you know what happens next - only this time in murky color and with shoddy framing. Here is as good of place as any to point out some of the other side effects of Dromax. One is it seems to cause its victims to gurgle up robotic frog sounds. Another is the absolute lack of fear towards fire. Unlike most zombies, these snatch burning torches with zeal. This is how they set flame to the cabin with the crotchety old man inside. Tom, retard, elder-lady daughter and the wife escape. That poor cat.
The government men meet up with the delirious Scooby-group on the road. Their sighs of relief are met with handcuffs as this battered brigade are used as bait. Ranger Tom gets sent out at gun point to lure the bloodeaters in for the kill. Surprise Attack! Dear thespian John "Martin" Amplas gets smacked about the head by the slowest rock assault ever committed to celluloid. The wife gets eaten. Jimmy the retard boy and Amy scream for help. The last official left standing is pretty stoked, seeing as though the toxic goons are doing all the dirty work. Haggard sister Amy saves the day by axing him in the back before he can shoot our beloved ranger Tom. Many cheap nose putty and Karo blood effects are seen in close up. The synth score ineptly bleats on...fade out.
Hours - possibly minutes - have past. Back at the national park outpost, more government folks try to woo Tom back into his rangerly duties. Sorry about your girlfriend, hows about a new truck? Overall he handles it pretty well being as though everyone he knows was eaten on a woodpile, mere moments ago. He thanks them for such wonderful offerings, but says no-can-do. He's gonna' finish packing up his belongings into a single 14"x 14" shipping container and then go about his way. Smooth times, more breakfast fish and a visit to those eternally scarred orphans are promised. A hillbilly gas attendant goes for a shock ending, attempted and failed. Anti-climactic? You bet. Worthy of watching? Not great, but you've seen much worse. You own much worse.