MAY 13, 2008
The worst thing about seeing a gem like Tender Flesh (aka Welcome To Arrow Beach) is that it’s so obscure that I can’t talk to anyone about it except the folks I saw it with. It’s never been released on DVD, and the VHS is long out of print (Half.com doesn’t even have an entry for it for you to ‘wish list’). I know one HMAD reader saw it, because I randomly sat next to him, but for the rest of you, I hope you’ve either seen it, or know a way to see it. The trailer is below (another fine idea from Chris!), to whet your appetite.
The film itself isn’t much to write about – a girl is invited into a home run by two weird folks (a brother and sister who kiss a bit too lovingly), and before long discovers that the guy is a cannibal. She escapes, no one believes her but her Dirk Diggler-y boyfriend, someone else enters the home who isn’t so lucky... standard stuff for this kind of movie. But what makes it so wonderful is the nearly nonstop quirkiness of the whole thing. For example, early on, our heroine (Meg Foster!) hitches a ride with an Owen Wilson-ish guy who promptly floors it, gets chased by the cops, and flips the car. He’s never heard from again, but while the cops investigate his car, they find a bag of cocaine. The chief (or sheriff, I forget) tells his deputy to take it back and that it “better all be there!”. He then rubs his nose and snorts. One assumes that he’s just clearing his nose of an errant booger, but the subject of the scene just makes it hilarious.
Later, Foster and Diggler are discussing whether to go back to the house or not, in the kitchen of her temporary home. On the walls are several diagrams that detail the different sections of cow, pig, chicken, and woodland creature that one could eat. A chicken’s head is a 6, for example. Why is that there? Who knows, but I love it anyway. It’s also around this time that one of the finest pieces of dialogue ever written, recited, and recorded is unleashed upon us all: “He kills people... GIRL people!”
There’s also another line that I can’t remember exactly, but the jist of it is “There are any number of places a girl can stick herself with a needle!” (they are discussing heroin). Again, it’s just off-kilter enough to be memorable.
Sadly, there isn’t much cannibal action, and the brother/sister incest never goes beyond a make out session (one that is cut from abruptly – not sure if the print itself was cut or if it was just a bad edit). It also gets a bit slow, as we spend too much time with the assorted cops going about their day. But the oddball dialogue (Foster’s in particular), silly background stuff, and soundtrack were more than enough to keep me entertained. In other words, perfect New Beverly movie. I'm actually quite surprised it's not on my Chilling Classics set.
Before Flesh was 2000 Maniacs, a film that I’d pretty much ONLY want to watch at the Bev. The print was pretty bad... color was OK but the audio was muffled almost the entire time. Two guests came, one of which is none other than Steven Poster, who is now a successful director of photography, most notably all of Richard Kelly’s films (and I got to talk to him about Southland Tales, I guess a Blu-Ray is being seriously considered, wooo). And it was good to see Grindhouse guru Eric Caidin up and about, as he was attacked in his store a couple weeks ago (you’d never know it though – the guy is definitely a trooper). All in all, definitely worth the trip, even if some cock in the ass totally stole my spot as I was trying to park.
What say you?