Tender Flesh (1974)

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?


  1. Trailer definitely makes me want to find it somewhere. Even if it did give me a seizure.

  2. Yo BC, Tall Fn Joe here AKA the dude you sat next to at the Bev. Just wanted to add some more enjoyable quirky aspects that I got out of Tender Flesh.

    - Nudity: You can't have a title like Tender Flesh without nudity. In the beginning the chick ends up wandering onto what looked to be a nude beach with girl people, boy people and kid people all running around naked, or maybe I was just drunk and projecting. Regardless, nude beach or not the chick strips down to her bare essentials to take a full frontal dip in the ocean while we get the ominous and overtly pervy eyeball shot of the killer watching from his house on the hill. Then later, after being invited to the killer's house, the girl strips down to take a bath. Also we get even more nudity when we randomly find out that the cops of Arrow Beach have a penchant for peeping stroke mags while on the job. One even did the old hide the porn inside a normal book gag.

    - A What The Fuck Moment: After the girl escapes the basement, and the killer gives up on chasing her, he runs back to his house and out of nowhere just smashes a window. At first the moment feels like random destruction, maybe an exclamation point of frustration, but we later have the moment put into perspective when we learn that the killer smashed the window in order to blame it on the girl and make the cops think that she was just some crazy junky up to no good, all the while drawing attention away from his cannibal basement. So it was fun watching the killer go from crazy to crazy like a fox.

    - The Dumbest Moment: When the girl and her new "I'll do anything to get laid" boyfriend break into the basement at the end, they break a window and make one of the most awkward entrances in movie history by trying their hardest to squeeze through the half broken window, when all they really needed to do was reach in and open the window after they broke it.

    - The Barfly Skank: I was stoked to see the old "I'll make your asshole rumble like a volcano" skank from the Charles Bukowski movie, Barfly, play a somewhat younger yet still skanky character in this movie. She winds up being the washed up model/skank whore who gets rolled by one of her johns after he bangs her on the beach in front of the killer's house. The killer then talks her into an impromtu photo shoot/meat cleaver party in his basement, which I thought was one of the better scenes of the movie. I felt her skanky pre-death posing was something that would make John Waters proud.

    Anyways, that's all I got. I thought 2000 Maniacs was on the right track, but I expected more. I guess for it's time it must have been pretty revolutionary. The dead sound of the print definately hurt the viewing.

    Long live the New Beverly!

  3. Yeah, sorry about the sound on TWO THOUSAND MANIACS. A technical issue out of our control but we did our best with what we had.

    The guy driving the hot rod that Meg Foster gets into while hitchhiking is none other than the great Jesse Vint, star of MACON COUNTY LINE (with his brother Alan) and a bunch of other films and TV programs.

  4. No biggie... if i hadn't seen it before it would be a real bummer. and a less than perfect film print is still better than a projected DVD!

    Thanks for reading the site!


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