The Meateater (1979)

Article 3516 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-6-2011
Posting Date: 3-31-2011
Directed by Derek Savage
Featuring Arch Joboulian, Dianne Davis, Peter Spitzer
Country: USA
What it is: Regional horror film

A disgruntled shoe salesman buys a movie theater in a small town in the hope of making a living on it. However, there’s a secret resident in the theater – a badly burned former employee who eats rats and kills intruders.

This zero-budget regional horror has title theme music that sounds like a cross between “The Funeral March of the Marionettes” and the theme from “The Addams Family”, and this just made me wonder if the movie was intended as a comedy. In truth, it’s a little hard to tell. It’s never made clear, but the psycho may also be a cannibal. That might explain the movie’s obsession with food; it seems that a good seventy-five percent of the movie is obsessed with food, with cops chowing down while investigating murders, lots of scenes at the concession stand, talk about Jimmy Dean sausages and a family sing-along of the Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle. Not to mention that the movie they’re watching (GRIZZLY SAFARI, which is described on the marquee as “wholesome” and is supposed to be G-rated as the new owner promises the real estate agent) is mostly about animals killing and eating each other. The killer has an obsession with Jean Harlow; he runs silent films of the star during the theater’s off hours, and if you notice that the theater owner’s teenage daughter has a resemblance to Harlow, you’ll guess at least one plot development along the way. It’s certainly hard to take a movie seriously when one of the names of the characters is Lieutenant Wombat. The movie is bad, but weirdly engaging nonetheless, if for no other reason that the moments of weirdness make it a little hard to get one’s mind around it.

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