director Ted V. Mikels
For a film with the title The Corpse Grinders and featuring such an amazing poster image of a scantily-clad woman being shoved into a meat grinder, Ted V. Mikels’s 1971 exploitation/horror film is actually not brimming with gore and nudity as you might expect. Hal C F Astell of ApocalypseLaterFilm.com describes it aptly as “one of the greatest examples of PG exploitation in the history of film”.
This is my first ever Ted V. Mikels film, though long on my list of films to see. Fandor just got a bunch of Mikels films on their site, including the 2008 documentary about him, The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels, which I’m also interested to see.
The Corpse Grinders is about a cat food company whose secret ingredient is people and catnip. First employing ghouls to dig up bodies or amoral funeral home employees, the owners of the Lotus Cat Food company (“For Cats Who Love Humans”) start killing homeless and nosy workers too, fodder for their business, in their crazy get-rich-quick scheme. Only see, the cats do indeed develop a taste for human flesh, and hyped up on catnip-laden flesh, they start attacking their owners!
The oddity of the largely bloodless film isn’t the only one of this cult classic. One of the other very strange things are the unusual characters in the film, from some oddball guys who look like they were lifted straight off skid-row to a female character who is deaf and dumb and one-legged. The commitment to this character, speaking in sign-language throughout, is part of the film’s weird, enjoyable sensibility, offering weirdness in place of naked girls or bloody appendages.
One other strange aspect to the film is that one of its writers was Arch Hall, Sr., the man behind Eegah (1962) and Wild Guitar (1962), who also seemed to have helped Dennis Ray Steckler to get his career off the ground.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that I Drink Your Blood (1970) was a prime example of sleaze on film that lived up to the promise of its amazing poster. I don’t think that the same can be said in any way of The Corpse Grinders, but somehow its other charms elevates it to something worthwhile nonetheless.