We’re returning to familiar ground here. This is the third film from Ted V. Mikels’ Golden Age (1966-1973). Of course, golden ages are relative. We’re not talking John Ford here by any means. Yet in those seven years Mikels made six films that have maintained a good level of clunky charm. This is the third of those six films to be featured on these pages.
Most interestingly, the six films are nearly all in different genres. These included Blaxploitation, Show Biz Expose (Girl in the Gold Boots) and action. Even the three movies roughly defined as horror are different. One is science fiction (Astro Zombies), one supernatural (Blood Orgy of the She Devils), and the other ‘realistic.’ It’s the latter we consider today.
Aside from Mikels, this is also merely the latest killer cat movie to appear here. (See Strays and Uninvited.) Most of them range from dull to ridiculous, largely because it’s difficult to communicate that a cat is all that dangerous.* I’ve had this assertion called into dispute before, but c’mon. Cujo, that guy you believe could kill you. Mr. Whiskers? Not so much. Scratch the holy hell out of you, sure. Put an eye out, conceivably. Threaten an entire cast? Meh.[*My esteemed colleague Liz Kingsley brings an even more jaundiced eye to such enterprises. She’s clearly more of a cat person than I am. She can tell from their body language when they are in a non-threatening mood, gainsaying the film’s assertion that they are in fact kill-crazy. Just like we’ve all see ‘vicious’ dogs fiercely wagging their tails in one flick or other.]
Still, the trope is a venerable one, mostly playing off the idea that cats seems inherently insanely capricious and malign (true), not to mention super-intelligent, sly and devious (I have my doubts). Dogs in films seldom are out for revenge, but that’s a fairly common killer cat motivation. They are, with all due deference to frogs, the great schemers of the killer animal genre.
The earliest example of this, to my knowledge at least, was the Bram Stoker short story The Squaw. Folks of my generation are probably more apt to recognize it from Archie Goodwin and Reed Crandall’s typically lovely adaptation of the tale in Creepy magazine. The narrative details an (of course) uncouth American visitor to Old Blighty, who kills a kitten as a jape. As one might imagine, the blighter reaps a hideous recompense from the enraged mother cat.
That’s a discursion, however. (I know. Shocking) This isn’t Eye of the Cat, or one of several other revenge-themed killer cat movies. No, this was made in the ‘70s and thus Man is the real culprit. The Killer Animal flick was a huge genre in the ‘70s, both because of the burgeoning environmental concerns and due to the gigantic success of Jaws. That was still several years in the future, though.
We open on a modest house besieged by a garden hose thunderstorm. There’s a meowing cat on the porch, as it’s well known felines don’t like garden hoses rainstorms. Inside the home a couple lounges in a very ‘70s fashion. The woman is smoking and the guy is wearing a brown velour shirt. The couch has a horrible pattern to it and there’s a big lava lamp (!!) on the side table. Yikes!
The woman hears the pussy scratching at the door and goes to let it in. Well, eventually, first the couple seems to be ignoring the cat, which does seem kind of dickish. I guess it might not actually be their cat. Or maybe they are nervous because of the ominous music. Anyway, she eventually goes to the door and someone throws the cat at her. I think the actress probably was in some danger just from waving the cat around. Anytime you do something with a cat it doesn’t dig, you’re in for a scratching. In the movie, though, she escapes with some cuts on her throat.
This cues the opening credits, including a superimposed piece of title art that literally looks like it was drawn with a kid’s set of markers and then cut out with house scissors. And probably was, actually. Strident library music sounds, and there are flash cuts to a rotten dismembered arm and suchlike eerie images. One is especially frightening:
We cut to a cemetery, as indicated by a (real) iron gate decorated by cheaply fake lettering spelling “Farewell Acres.” It actually took me several scenes to figure out the second word, which is often obscured because they have the fog machine all cranked up. Oooh, atmospheric!
Caleb, the slovenly caretaker/gravedigger, is a large fellow with a huge mop of gray frizzy hair and accompanying beard. He and his even more outré wife, Cleo, are weirdly theatrical characters. Indeed, they seem more like something you’d expect to find in an Andy Milligan movie. Even for a filmmaker of Mikels’ somewhat low stature, this is not a flattering comparison.
With fog haphazardly billowing in from one spot off camera, Styrofoam tombstones and cricket sounds loudly Foleyed in, the suggestion of being in a cemetery is, uh, nearly flawless. Caleb finishes filling in a grave, and then calls for his wife. For some reason Cleo has a coarse English accent, not to mention a limp and a penchant for carrying around a bedraggled baby doll. It’s like her character was fashioned by drawing random traits out of a hat.
The two are invariably of the Hate Each Other, perpetually arguing variety. Cleo’s latest kick involves her suspicions that a man Caleb is working for on the side won’t even pay him. The two spit back and forth, overly lit by Klieg lights. Then, their scene concluded, they exit stage right. The camera pans down and there’s a shock music sting as we see a freshly disinterred body on the ground.
We see them walk around a bit while being dreadfully overlit, because when a movie is 72 minutes you need to eat up the running time somehow. Then, suddenly:
RANDOM SHOCK CUT TO A GOOSE!*[*The cemetery gate and grounds were part of Mikels’ castle—yes, a castle—in Glendale, CA. Even the geese were his. They were actually used as an alarm system, as they started squawking if anyone walked by them. Sporting a Salvador Dali mustache, Mikels also maintained a Derek Flint-like rotating harem. One imagines at least a few of the attractive women in the film were at the time part of this consortium.]
That monumental frisson achieved, we move on to watch the pair enter their again rather theatrical hovel of an abode. This also is badly overlit. I’m surprised the actors don’t evince deep tans, or melanomas for that matter. Caleb churlishly demands food, which Cleo fetches after seating her ‘baby’ at the table. Cleo continues to fuss over the doll so that we ‘get’ that she’s crazy.
Caleb is more pragmatic, noting that he’s dug up over 800 pounds of corpses tonight. All together he’d owed for more than a ton of bodies. You can see where he and Cleo need the money. Those 10,000 watt bulbs don’t buy themselves. “That’s $497 they owe me,” he ascertains. “And they better pay up!” $497 might not seem like a lot, but that’s like almost a thousand bucks in today’s money.
We cut to another pair of the film’s collection of weirdos. Willie is a painfully emaciated cowering type, looking rather like a middle-aged Emo Phillips if he had lived as a wino for the last few decades. And Tessie…well.
Tessie is equally timid, but sports a gigantic shock of unkempt red hair. This is so frizzy it looks like it saved its platoon by jumping on a grenade. Tessie also shambles on a single crutch like Tiny Tim, because of course she does. Between her hair and ratty old dress we keep waiting for her to belt out “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” Oh, except that she’s a deaf mute, because of course she is.
The film’s characters are so weird that it’s difficult not to think that Mikels was going for comedy this time around. On the other hand, Astro Zombies is pretty close to this, and there was no sign he meant that as camp. So…who knows? Maybe he thought all these bizarre characters were Dickensian or something.
The two toil as menials at the highly dilapidated if markedly overlit workspaces of Lotus Cat Food. This enterprise is run by a pair of sleazy nogoodniks, Landau and Maltby. Landau is the younger of the two, a soft-spoken sociopath. The guy playing him also deploys perhaps the laziest imitation sign language ever seen by man when ‘talking’ to Tessie.
As for Maltby, he’s your standard Elisha Cook Jr. type. He’s middle aged and fidgety, a dumbass who osculates between simmering greed and sudden panic. Clearly over his head, he should get out of the game. However, the smooth-talking Landau keeps him onboard with talk of all the money they’ll be scoring. Needless to say, there’s no way Landau is actually planning on sharing the loot with him.
With our villains established, time to meet our heroes. I guess the two work in a hospital, although the set is primitive enough that this is but a guess. Our male lead is Dr. Howard Glass. Howard is a Tom Skerritt lookalike with too much Brylcreem in his hair. He also sports perennially greasy skin, although that might be the actor’s reaction to the overbearing lighting. Howard is currently bummed because he just lost a patient in surgery. This lets us know he’s the sort of manly yet sensitive chap who cares about People and suchlike.
His girlfriend is dishy blonde Angie. Think Elly May Clampett in nursing togs and you won’t be far off the mark. She comforts him, and they engage in some really awful ‘witty’ repartee. Let’s just say that William Powell and Myrna Loy had nothing to worry about.
To get the plot moving, Angie is seen feeding her cat some Lotus cat food. After a while the (rather placid-looking) kitty goes amok and attacks Howard. Luckily he survives, not so much because of the Hero’s Death Battle Exemption as because it’s a cat.
Cut back to Farewell Acres. Caleb is again digging up bodies. How many bodies get buried here per day? Surely the bodies he digs up have to be at least fairly fresh. (Then there’s the whole issue of embalming, but let’s not even.) Meanwhile, Cleo croons to her doll, because of The Crazy.
Landau and Maltby drive up in a panel van. They load the bodies inside, while Caleb pushes to get paid. Landau puts him off, but an especially churlish Caleb threatens to go to the cops if he doesn’t get his money soon. “I want everything that’s coming to me,” he snarls. Good lord, man, have you never seen an episode of Barnaby Jones?*[*Well, OK, no, he hadn’t. Barnaby Jones didn’t hit the airwaves until two years after this. Still, any Quinn Martin show would have done.]
Outside the gate, a Mercedes pulls up. (Mikel’s real life car?) Out pops a Mysterious Guy with a mustache, sports jacket and black sweater. So yes, he has a proto-Burt Reynolds thing going. He doesn’t really do much, presumably being here to establish himself as A Thing. For basically the rest of the picture we’ll keep seeing this guy lurking around.
We cut back to the offices of Lotus Cat Food. We now get a loving shot of the Corpse Grinding machine. This is basically a long balsa wood box at the end of a short conveyor belt. Various gauges and lights have been attached to it to make it look mechanical.
The bodies are fed into the cardboard teeth on one end. They do cut the meat with a little grain, but it’s a pretty small amount. On the far end of the machine is a tiny spout that spurts out the cat food into a small and quite disgusting-looking bucket. It looks like on a good day they could manufacture maybe a couple of cases of the stuff. I’m not sure where all the riches are coming from.
The room is lit with various colored gels, mostly purple, green and red. Mikels clearly had seen a Bava film or two, although he appears to have learned the words but not the music.
Adding a really creepy note—this was made in the ‘70s, after all—Maltby is preparing to feed the be-bra’d body of a young woman into the machine. He appears a bit too interested in how pretty she was, and even Landau is skeeved out. This establishes Maltby as a pathetic horndog, which comes into play later.
Realizing that the increasingly inconvenient Caleb is providing a bottleneck, Landau calls in Monk. Monk is a veteran hood, and thus the sort of professional Landau can do business with. On the other hand, he seems like a guy it would be hard to double cross, which is Landau’s pattern. Indeed, Monk says payment must be C.O.D. Landau agrees and offers Monk twenty cents a pound for each body he brings to the factory.
This seems like a good time to look at the economics of this whole thing. This is back in the day when a can of cat food was, oh, beer-can sized. I assumed it wasn’t meant as a single serving, like today’s small individual tins. Let’s say the food was so popular that they were able to charge a dollar a can. That seems a lot for back in 1971, but we’ll go with that.
So if each can holds 8 oz. of cat food, that means two cans to the pound. We’ll say three cans, with the (small) grain addition. So yes, that works out. Three cans brings in $3.00, at the cost of a bit over twenty cents in raw materials. Add in the cans, distribution costs, advertising…let’s say it goes up to $.15 a can.
So that’s a pretty good markup. A 150 lb. man could generate 450 cans of food, while costing Lotus $30, at twenty cents a pound. 150 pounds equals 450 cans bringing in…$450. Say about $400, net. Man, they must be grinding a lot of corpses to make the “riches” we keep hearing about. Given the limits on the raw material available, this is hardly a Scrooge McDuck-type fortune we’re talking about here.
For instance, a 1971 Cadillac Eldorado would have set you back about $7,500. That’s a lot of corpses. All the bodies Caleb has provided up to now, for instance, wouldn’t get you that car. That’s before the profits are split two ways, which at least Maltby expects to happen. Now, with the median household income at the time being about $7,700, the guys were making nice coin. Riches, though, that seems a bit much.
Then there’s the fact that they are engaging in serious felonies. And that’s before the murderous cats come into it, adding serious felinies. (Get it?) The mass theft and desecration of corpses, not to mention the federal FDA beefs, would surely add up to decades in prison. It hardly seems worth it. On the other hands, criminals are seldom geniuses, so there’s that.
Anyhoo. We next cut to a local mortuary. A chatty attendant who reminded me a bit of Floyd the Barber yaks to a body he is wheeling in. Addressing some of my just-stated issues, Landau is talking to the mortician here, again seeking another source of bodies. Let’s say Lotus can get its paws on fifty corpses a week. At an average $400 profit per body, that’s twenty grand a week. OK, now we’re in business.
That’s on the demand side, however. On the supply side, the numbers don’t look so good. A skeevy weirdo graveyard caretaker might consider $500 a goodly amount. But a mortician? I’m not saying he’d be making big money at his job. Yet would he make so little that he’d risk prison to reap a measly $30 a corpse? Admittedly, ten bodies would be $300 a week, but that’s while illegally providing forty bodies a month. Surely you couldn’t keep that sort of thing up with nobody noticing.
So really the issue is economies of scale. It just doesn’t seem possible, particularly on the supply side, that anyone would make enough to risk the penalties. And that doesn’t even address Monk the hoodlum. He doesn’t dig up bodies, he makes them. Later we’ll see him on a murder spree killing hobos. He’s committing a raft of murders to collect $30 a head! That doesn’t seem to work out to a proper risk/reward balance.
Anyway, as silly as this all is, at least the film is trying to (cartoonishly) address the elephant corpse in the room. So Landau and the mortician, inevitably named Morty (!!), come to an accommodation. Morty is refined but quite jocular, and a bit of running time is eaten up with his byplay with the equally mirthful Floyd the Attendant. The final punchline is that Morty will use his illicit gains to go to chef school. “I love gourmet foods!” he attests.
Cut to skid row. A wino-looking guy is sitting on the stoop of a ratty old house. Inside, a worn looking woman is laying down in her slip. She’s the latest cat victim, because you pretty much have to toss in an attack now and then. This is the first fatal one, as the not extremely homicidal-looking pussy supposedly tears out her throat. The wino guy runs in, but he’s too late. I will say that given how poor these people seem, I’m rethinking my idea that Lotus cat food is a high price luxury item.
Somehow we cut to Howard’s examination room, where he and Angela have been examining the body. (???) Are we to believe that Hobo Guy brought it here? Because he’s the one Howard addresses. “It’s a severed jugular, she bled to death,” he announces. “The coroner’s office will have to be notified.” Yeah, that would probably be a good idea.
Howard and Angie are surprised to hear the woman was killed by her cat, having recently been on the receiving end of a cat attack themselves. Hearing that Hobo Guy killed the beast, Howard asks him to bring its body here for examination. Then we get a cat autopsy. Seriously.
Howard takes a bit of cat intestine (?) and puts it on a slide. Angie, now wearing a completely different nurse uniform from the previous scene, joins him at the microscope. Results are inconclusive, so they decide to go the Hart to Hart route and snoop around themselves. Because of course they do.
Back at Lotus, we learn several things. First, Tessie uses her crutch because she only has one leg. They usually situate the camera so we can’t see this, probably so they don’t have to bind the actress’ leg up under her skirt. Second, that Landau seems to have an inexplicable soft spot for Tessie. He gets protective when he sees Maltby hassling her.
Weirdest is that Tessie, who like everyone save Landau and Maltby can’t get in the backroom with the machinery, has somehow “shut down the line.” Landau asks why, and learns they are out of, er, meat. Again, I can’t figure out how Tessie would be the one to know this, but there you go. I still think she’s supposed to be ignorant of the nature of the meat, though.
Landau reacts by telling Tessie to go home for the day, but first to have Willie stop by the office. Bum bum bum. Sure enough, Willie gets kacked and fed into the machine. Again, that dude was really scrawny, probably a hundred pounds soaking wet. Hardly seems worth committing murder for, especially considering the lack of meat on his bones.
There’s a muffled shriek from the backroom, then Landau emerges with, wiping blood off his hands. “I guess we don’t need Caleb anymore,” he notes in a dreamy fashion. “The world’s full of ingredients.” Presumably this is meant to indicate Landau’s descent into madness. I mean, how many people can they possibly kill and get away with it?
I will say that although the film is less overtly tongue in cheek (although it’s possible that Mikels was just relying on the inherent absurdity of the material), Corpse Grinders would probably be a good double bill with the gorier but blackly comic The Undertaker and His Pals. You could do worse for a grindhouse double feature.
Howard and Angie are investigating at the dead woman’s house. Each admits to seeing a human hand in the cat attacks. Angie, being a cat owner, is the one to notice the cans of Lotus cat food. I’ll give Mikels credit, because Angie notes, “For as poor as [the woman] was, she bought the most expensive brand of pet food.” So Lotus is expensive, anyway, making the plot minutely more credible.
It’s also mentioned that as an indigent with no family, the woman will be interred in…Farewell Acres. Oh, the Irony.
We cut back to the examining room, with the two again wearing their professional togs. “Why would a cat suddenly turn into man-eaters?” Angie asks. Look, she a nurse, not a Grammar Person. Howard pulls a volume from his office book collection. All doctors have one, see Billy the Kid vs. Dracula. He reads a passage explaining that all cats are but inches way from killing everything they see. Well, duh.
Howard also reads that tigers only become man eaters after first tasting human flesh. (Well, isn’t that pretty much by definition?) To move things along, he immediately surmises that maybe the murderous house cats had been exposed to human flesh via Lotus Cat Food. Angie doesn’t seem at all shocked by this notion, despite the fact that she’s been feeding the stuff to her own cat.
Figuring the authorities would never believe their admittedly out of the box theory, they decide to go undercover and investigate the cat food factory. Because of course they would. What else would one do in a situation like this? Angie wants to start immediately, but Howard wants some sugar first. Men. Am I right, ladies?
Cue the two in civilian dress—Howard wearing a fuzzy white Angora sweater—appearing at the Food Adulteration Bureau, or something of that order. They are seeking the address for Lotus Cat Food, which isn’t listed. They meet a foxy brunette secretary, Donna, who ushers them in to meet one Mr. Desisto.
This worthy gives about as much attention to their theory as you’d expect. This is dangerous, because if one character is shown thinking logically, the entire picture falls apart. Desisto does admit that Lotus isn’t registered with their office, and agrees to have the cat food analyzed. Furthermore, during the meeting old paperwork is brought in. A man named Babcock had applied to open a Lotus Cat Food company, but the plans were apparently abandoned before that actually happened.
For what it’s worth, it’s fairly nice that the film isn’t completely treading water. Howard and Angie actually have to investigate a bit. Landau is continuing to look for ways to get more bodies, etc. At least the script is trying. Not every scene is just rehashing something we’ve already seen.
On the other hand, the cat attacks are kind of the film’s bread and butter. So we do now get another one of those. Just by SHEER coincidence, who should be returning to her apartment right now but Desisto’s foxy secretary, Donna. We watch while she walks at some length through the complex. I’m pretty sure these are the same apartments and swimming pool seen in Astro Zombies.
Once inside, about the first thing she does there is—three guesses—feed her cat some Lotus Cat Food. Huh. What are the odds? Actually, she doesn’t feed the cat with it. She pulls a presumably unopened can straight from her grocery bag and places it next to the cat on her kitchen counter. Is merely licking the sealed can enough to drive the cat insane? Or is the idea just that this is what she’s been feeding in the past?
Anyway, Donna proves a highly refined character. We can tell because before she strips down to her bra and panties to lounge on her couch and watch TV, she pauses to pop open a flat top can of Budweiser. Only she pours the beer into a glass before drinking it, like a lady. Then her cat attacks her. End scene.
Meanwhile, we again see the Mysterious Lurking Guy from earlier, just so we don’t forget he’s in this picture. He stays unobserved when none other than Howard and Angie drive up. It turns out this is the Babcock estate. He’s a wealthy well-known investor who has recently disappeared.
He was also the guy, as we learned in Desisto’s office, who once upon a time had planned to open the Lotus Cat Food company. Howard and Angie end up talking to the flighty and very chatty Mrs. Babcock. In the end they don’t learn much. I’m kind of assuming Mikels’ shot the scene because he had access to the grounds of this big mansion.
A lead Mrs. Babcock provided apparently panned out, though, because Howard and Angie quickly show up at the cat food factory. They pretend to be a couple who want to buy a case of the stuff for their pet. Maltby and Landau both smell a fish. The former inevitably begins to panic, but Landau plays it cool. He sells Our Heroes an old case of cat food, made before they started using human bodies. Then he hustles them out of there before they can really learn anything.
After they leave, the two miscreants have an argument and then a flashback. To our complete lack of surprise, we learn that they killed Babcock when he not only threatened to pull out as an investor, but to go to the police. Needless to say, his erstwhile partners strenuously object.
Maltby naturally panics and strangles Babcock to death with a rope. In case you’re wondering, such a thing takes about two second flats and almost no pressure. It was so easy I was kind of afraid to button my shirt after seeing this scene. Anyway, Landau coolly decides to dispose of the body in the nearby grinding machine. Thus they accidentally learned that cats go coo-coo crazy for human flesh.
We cut to Farewell Acres. Unaware that he’s been made redundant, Caleb continues to dig up bodies. He dumps the body in his house (!!) while Cleo makes him dinner. He then phones Landau and demands that he come by with his money. Landau again puts him off, but both he and Maltby agree Caleb has to be dealt with soon.
In the meantime, we cut to a montage murder spree as Monk (remember him?) kills a bunch of hobos for Landau. We see him kill three guys. Why, that’s like ninety bucks right there!!
Meanwhile, Howard and Angie’s investigation has hit a brick wall. They decide to call Desisto to check on the analysis of the cat food. As Howard makes the call, Angie strips down to her bra for our edification. The call goes through and Desisto reveals that the tests were negative. They were using the stuff Landau sold Howard, presumably. Hey, brainiacs, how about going to the store and buying some to test.
Desisto does very nonchalantly mention that this own secretary, Donna, was just attacked by her cat. You might think that would be a red flag or something, but apparently not. Even Howard replies with a rather bored and curt “I’m sorry” before hanging up the phone. Sherlock Holmes he ain’t. Angie, however, relies on her “feminine intuition” and talks Howard into searching the factory later that night.
They appear at the factory later, covertly observed by Mysterious Lurking Guy. Angie is wearing a bright red dress, and Howard a light blue suit, because those are the best colors when you’re sneaking around ninja-style. They get into the factory pretty easily, but sadly it turns out nobody ever goes home from this place.
They immediately run into Tessie, who emerges from an unlit office. Uh, OK. Howard and Angie pretend to be looking for Landau, but Tessie points at her ear and shakes her head. “She’s a mute,” Howard deduces, “she doesn’t understand.” Yes, when someone points at their ear, I assume they’re a mute. On the other hand, Howard’s a doctor, so I assume he knows what he’s talking about.
Anyway, then Landau and Maltby show up too. Man, that’s a dedicated staff. Our Heroes lamely try to keep going with their previous story, but obviously they’ve blown their cover. Landau sneeringly kicks them out.
That accomplished, it’s finally time for Landau to take care of Caleb. He drives out to Farewell Acres and approaches the house, leading to a
RANDOM SHOCK CUT TO A GOOSE!
Inside, Caleb once again demands his money. “I want everything that’s coming to me, now!” he says. Boy, you will not believe what happens to him next. A suspicious sort, Caleb has armed himself (with what appears to be a cap and ball revolver!). However, he hands his gun to Landau as soon as the latter flashes some money at him. I mean, what do you do with a guy like that?
Sadly for him, Landau is also armed and makes quick work of the burly if none too bright grave robber. Shrieking in terror, a just returning Cleo turns and runs from the house. There follows a chase, including a
RANDOM SHOCK CUT TO A GOOSE!
The chase takes a while, despite the fact that having the all but waddling Cleo outrun the fit young Landau is patently ridiculous. Eventually he catches up to her though and shoots her. He topples her wounded form into an open grave—oh, the irony—and then buries her alive. I’m not sure why he wouldn’t chuck her body into the cat food machine. Seems like the obvious choice, really.
Meanwhile, Howard’s about done with the whole Nancy Drew thing, and tells Angie so. Of course, she remains sure something is going on. When Howard is called away on a medical issue, Angie decides to investigate on her own. Dames. Am I right, gentlemen?
It’s about time to wrap this up. Howard comes back to find Angie’s note about investigating the factory on her lonesome. Maltby catches her snooping around. He hauls her down by the Grinder. During this bit we see a pile of rotting old human limbs. First, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t have ground those up at the time. Second, if you choose not to, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t just pile them up and leave them there. Seems kind of incriminating, somehow.
Maltby ties the unconscious Angie up and puts her on the Grinder conveyor belt, apparently having apprenticed under Snidely Whiplash. However, he hesitates to kill her because she’s all purty and stuff. She comes too, and he begs her not to scream. He doesn’t want to kill her, you see. He just wants to feel her up. Well, that’s OK, then. He then rips off her blouse so we can see her impressive chest in her black bra.
This sets her screaming again and it’s now that a returning Landau shows up. Landau’s tired of all the drama or something and just shoots Maltby down. Needless to say, he ironically falls into the Grinder. Proving a rather gigantic douchebag, a now completely nutso Landau tells his dying partner that he’s going to feed him into the Grinder, and then he does.
Howard shows up, and Landau immediately shoots him in the chest. Our Hero, ladies and gentlemen! All looks lost when suddenly Mysterious Lurking Guy, who hasn’t done squat so far, pops up and shoots the villain. Uhm, OK. He was a detective investigating Babcock’s disappearance, in case you care.
The dead Landau is ironically last seen with cats crawling over his body and eating him. Personally, I think having a food-maddened cat jump on him, with Landau stumbling into the Grinder during the struggle, would have make a much better ending then suddenly have a bit character wrap everything up. But what do I know? Anyway, cue credits.
Except for Mr. Mikels, there are not a lot of particularly interesting names here. The screenplay was written by none other than Arch Hall Sr. He wrote and costarred in a series of cheapie films with his largely talent-free son, Arch Hall Jr. Their most famous outing was the Richard Kiel caveman epic Eegah. I will say that the script is outrageously silly, but not entirely unentertaining.
As for the actors, most had but a few movie appearances, often in other films by Mikels. However, the guy who played Howard Glass, Sean Kenney, achieved immortality for a cameo. He’s the guy who played the wheelchair-bound, horribly disfigured Captain Pike in the classic Star Trek two-part episode “The Menagerie.” He also had a recurring role on the show as the occasionally seen Lt. DePaul.
The cast member with the most substantial career was character actor Vincent Barbi, who played the hoodlum Monk. Readers here might remember him as the diner owner in 1958’s The Blob. He mostly played small roles but he appeared in films over a 40-plus year span.
Ray Dannis, very briefly seen here as Mr. Babcock, played the titular Undertaker in The Undertaker and His Pals.
Thanks to the indefatigable Carl Fink for proofreading this article about an hour after I posted it!