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Plot: mad scientist is making zombies out of natives on Caribbean island.

What is I Eat Your Skin if not gloriously lunkheaded and outrageously hilarious Florida drive-in hokum from the Sunshine State’s foremost specialist of such things, Del Tenney? Arriving too late to be of any importance in shaping the zombie mythology and harkening back to the halcyon days of Coleman Francis, Harold P. Warren, Herschell Gordon Lewis, and Ed Wood I Eat Your Skin was a relic of a bygone era even back in 1964. Surpassed only in sheer incompetence by William Girdler and J.G. Patterson Jr., Del Tenney had made a name for himself with The Curse of the Living Corpse (1964) and The Horror of Party Beach (1964). I Eat Your Skin was his first feature before his acting as an associate producer on the epic Terence Young ensemble disasterpiece Poppies Are Also Flowers (1966), only for it to be released some five years later. I Eat Your Skin is a relic remembered for all the wrong reasons and loved for all the right ones. Even Mortician seems to acknowledge as much. Not that that is a good barometer for anything, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

I Eat Your Skin was filmed in and around Florida (South Beach, Miami and Key Biscayne, to name the most prominent) over a three-week period in 1964 on an estimated budget of $120,000 under the working title of Caribbean Adventure to hide from investors that it was a horror feature. Tenney had brokered a distribution deal with Twentieth Century Fox who stipulated that he use a union production crew or otherwise the deal would not be honoured. Tenney was none too happy with the elongated production schedule (a week longer than his usual two) and he would end up describing the union crew as, "slow and uncooperative." Second unit direction was handled by that other veteran of Florida exploitation bilge, William Grefé. That Tenney insisted on black-and-white all but ensured that the deal with Fox would not go through. Endearing in its naivité but brazen enough to be exploitative I Eat Your Skin never lives up to the promise of its premise. By 1964 filmmakers across genres were boldly charging forward and pushing the envelope on any number of fronts. I Eat Your Skin does or has none of that. As for more recently, a drive-in theater sign for it can be briefly seen in the long-delayed Orson Welles film The Other Side of the Wind (which began production in 1970 but wouldn’t see release until 2018) advertizing it alongside I Drink Your Blood (1970). As is age-old tradition, it’s our solemn duty to report that there is no, and will not be any, skin-eating whatsoever in I Eat Your Skin.

At the Fontainebleau resort in South Beach, Miami pulp novelist Tom Harris (William Joyce) is about to engage in his umpteenth poolside affair with a willing bikinied socialite (George-Ann Williamson). Just before Harris can put the moves on her and her irate husband can put hands on him Tom’s escorted away by his publicist Duncan Fairchild (Dan Stapleton) and his golddigger wife Coral (Betty Hyatt Linton). He's to embark on what’s to be an expedition to Voodoo Island in the Caribbean. There Harris is to research the native customs for his next best seller on the estate of European nobleman Lord Carrington. Having landed on the island Tom is attacked by a bug-eyed zombie but manages to escape intact thanks to an intervention by Charles Bentley (Walter Coy), the man in charge of overseeing the estate of the absent heir, and his armed posse. That evening Harris makes his acquaintance with Jeannie Biladeau (Heather Hewitt), the virginal daughter of scientist Dr. Auguste Biladeau (Robert Stanton). Biladeau informs him that the locals partake in rituals involving a plant-based narcotic that puts them in a zombie-like state. Plus, they descend from an earlier tribe who engaged in human sacrifice to appease their god, Papa Neybo. Apropos of nothing, Biladeau has been working in the jungle on a possible cure for cancer based upon snake venom. When Jeannie is kidnapped by the natives for a blood sacrifice to their god the question arises of who’s the graver threat: the superstitious savages and their tribal customs or the god-fearing man of science?

Make no mistake, this is the umpteenth 50s safari adventure enlivened slightly by golem-like zombies and mod-fabulous curvaceous bikini babes. Sporting a breezy soundtrack that is equal parts calypso as it is jazz I Eat Your Skin is about as schizophrenic as its score. Alternately obnoxious and exploitative it never quite manages to settle on a tone. While the suave playboy shtick was timely with the ascension of James Bond in popular culture the Fontainebleau opening feels like one of those bikini comedies with John Agar from a decade earlier. Not that it gets any better once the action moves to the Caribbean. Once there it becomes evident just how much of a relic of a bygone time I Eat Your Skin truly is. The Voodoo Island second half oozes Liane, Jungle Goddess (1956) from its every colonialist imperialist pore. Square-jawed males, mad science, racial stereotypes, and damsels-in-distress abound in cheapo fifties horror tradition. The zombie make-up is schintzy at best but not any worse than, say, Hammer’s The Plague of the Zombies (1966). I Eat Your Skin is not well remembered, and to the extent that it’s remembered at all is that it probably went on to inspire the much crazier Filipino, Spanish, and Italian variations of the form. For one, it’s a shlocky drive-in precursor to The Mad Doctor Of Blood Island (1968). The voodoo aspect would be further explored in Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (1979), and most of the plot would be kindly recycled in Zombie Holocaust (1980) and Jess Franco’s Devil Hunter (1980).

By the time it was finally released theatrically in 1971 I Eat Your Skin had been outdone in every respect by George A. Romero’s gritty Night of the Living Dead (1968) on the horror side of things. On the other hand by the time the Sexual Revolution of 1968 and the Summer Of Love rolled around it was a completely different time. A year later Top Sensation (1969) and Zeta One (1969) both capitalized on said newfound freedoms. The dawning of the seventies heralded the decade of free love and German, French, and Italian sex comedies were racier than I Eat Your Skin could ever hope to be. It was hopelessly chaste and charmingly old-fashioned by the de facto standard of the day - or even by the standards of 1964. That it was filmed in economic black-and-white probably didn’t help its case either. That it was paired with I Drink Your Blood (1970) (one of the most violent drive-in hits prior to the marquee year of 1972) by Jerry Gross (who paid Tenney $40,000 for the rights) for his Cinemation Industries’ infamous “Two Great Blood-Horrors to Rip-Out Your Guts!” drive-in double feature must have led to some interesting reactions. In the end I Eat Your Skin is barely remembered for anything other than its larger-than-life publicity campaign. Or that it was sampled by Mortician. You decide what’s more important…

Plot: Eva’s milkshake brings all boys to the yard…

To say it in the immortal words of the great philosopher Franz Josef Gottlieb: “Hurra! Die Schwedinnen sind da.” After Joseph W. Sarno’s Inga (1968) (with Marie Liljedahl) the only way to continue was to push the envelope further. Thus was born Eva den utstötta (released under a variety of sensationalist titles in various territories while the original title translates to simply Eva - the Outcast, just Eva hereafter) that placed divinely proportioned auburn haired starlet Solveig Andersson at the top of Swedish sexploitation pantheon. Or at least until the arrival of one Christina Lindberg just twelve months later. Eva is no Dog Days (1970). No, Eva is better on all fronts. Biblical implications or no. This is probably the closest Sweden ever got their own Schoolgirl Report (1970). Equally sensationalist and framed as a serious exposé on youth sexuality Eva takes a well-deserved jab at the small-town obsession with what everybody does in the privacy of their bedrooms and reveals the rank hypocrisy of small-town provincialism in all its utterly banal ugliness. It’s, if nothing else, another excuse to have att se vackra flickor bli nakna.

Solveig Andersson had a blitz career that burned bright and fizzled out quick. In just 6 short years she was in the Danish-Swedish classic Dagmar's Hot Pants, Inc. (1971) and co-starred alongside Christina Lindberg three times, in Every Afternoon (1972), Thriller – A Cruel Picture (1973), and Wide Open (1974). As far as Nordporn goes, there are only a couple of names that really matter: the Maries Liljedahl and Forså, Solveig Andersson, Christina Lindberg, and Birte Tove. We’d love to include Leena Skoog on that list but her two Laila (17 år) (1969) one-reels are her only real contributions and not even her Four Dimensions of Greta (1972) is enough to consider her anything more than a blip on the radar. What Leena Skoog was to freezing hot Nordic blondes Solveig was to the redhaired girl-next-door. And to the definitive queens of Svenka ero somebody like Skoog could, and cannot, possibly compare. Wide Open (1974) would be the swansong for both Andersson and Christina Lindberg and was preceded by the Japanese pinky violence feature Mitsu no shitatari (1973) on one side and the western Dead Man’s Trail (1975) on the other. Interestingly (but not very surprisingly) somewhere after 1976 when her career had truly and well ended Andersson became a born-again Christian. She now is a poet and in 2014 briefly returned to television. Since then little has been heard of her and it’s safe to assume she has retired permanently.

Eva (Solveig Andersson) is a 14-year-old tonårsflickas in a sleepy hamlet somewhere in Sweden and she has a problem. She can’t relate to her friends in school as she’s quite developed for her tender age. She’s a girl in a woman’s body. As a victim of parental neglect all Eva craves is some warmth and love. Or a candy bar. Her full figure drives men insane, and that’s the only currency she has. When Eva one day offers her body to vagrant 'Järla-Bana' Karlsson (Arne Ragneborn) she suddenly becomes to talk of the town. She has brought scandal upon her pastoral community and embarrased her foster parents Alma (Hanny Schedin) and Peter Fredriksson (Arthur Fischer). Now den utstötta the moral guardians of the town form a council of elders and propose an investigation into the young wench’s sinful conduct. Community gatekeepers such as psychiatrist Jenny Berggren (Barbro Hiort af Ornäs) and the pastor (Segol Mann) each present their views into Eva’s psychological profile and her state of mind. The judge (Lars Lennartsson) will then deliberate and announce the verdict. The investigation from the police superintendent (Jan Erik Lindqvist) attracts the attention of Landsposten newspaper editor-in-chief (Einar Axelsson) who assigns journalist Lennart Swenningson (Hans Wahlgren) to follow up on the pending court case. When Eva is called to the stand she tells that she’s just a girl finding her way in the world. How she experimented with her friend Berit Svensson (Inger Sundh) during a sleepover and drew the ire of Berit’s mother (Karin Miller). However, not everything is just mischief and in her interview Eva implicates a number different men whom she provided sexual services to. Some of them poor working class slobs, others aristocratic gentlemen and distinguished bourgeoisie; and even the police superintendent.

Solveig Andersson was probably the Scandinavian equivalent to German soft sex superstars as Barbara Capell, Ulrike Butz, or Mascha Gonska. Much like the aforementioned Leena Skoog, she too had that girl-next-door quality and pretty much the same build as Edwige Fenech, Danielle Ouimet, and Luciana Ottaviani. Whereas Christina Lindberg was an anime sex doll given flesh, Andersson was more regular looking (but never plain or ordinary like, say, Gisela Schwartz) and it was the same thing that made Marie Liljedahl famous. In many ways she was similar to Eurocult queens Muriel Catalá, Christina von Blanc, and the Pascals, Françoise and Olivia. It’s perplexing how she never ended up in the strange world of Jess Franco as Solveig was exactly the homely and innocuous type Franco loved. Andersson would have fit seamlessly with the likes of Soledad Miranda, Romina Power, Christina von Blanc, Susan Hemingway, as well as the French and the Pascals, Françoise and Olivia.

In many ways Eva is a lighter, more wholesome alternative to Dan Wolman’s Maid In Sweden (1971), or Wickman’s own depressing tale of teenage woe Anita Swedish Nymphet (1973), by way of the sensationalist Schoolgirl Report (1970). The wide availability of anti-conceptives and sex now being seen as recreative heralded a new era of hedonism reflected in a veritable explosion of soft erotica. Inga (1968) pushed the envelope as far as it could, and Eva does even moreso. It has the heart of Alfred Vohrer’s Herzblatt (1969) (with Mascha Gonska) and the lighter tone is very much akin to Joe Sarno’s Butterflies (1975) (with Marie Forså). Swedish erotica was always more matter-of-fact and naturalistic in comparison to the slapstick of Great Britain, West Germany, and Italy. In that sense Sweden was closer to France while not nearly, if it all, having that oneiric Mediterranean quality. Nominally described as a comedy Eva is more of a drama, but doesn’t shy away from the occasional comedic moment. In a particularly funny exchange Eva and her friend Berit are lolling about semi-naked in the latter’s attic bedroom during a sleepover at the Svensson abode. “Does sex make breasts grow?” Berit wonders out aloud while feeling Eva’s and complimenting how soft hers are, “No,” she continues having given it further thought, “then I would have had giant breasts.” It’s the kind of quip you expect from Lederhosenporn specialists Franz Josef Gottlieb, Alois Brummer, or Hubert Frank – not some Swede.

Torgny Wickman apparently wants the viewer to take this as a serious piece of socio-political filmmaking as he examines the ins and outs of teen sexuality. Wickman never fails to hide his more exploitative inclinations behind the thinnest veneer of an exposé. Nobody is going to watch something like this for the supposed social commentary it offers and more than likely for the bröst and röv that Andersson and some of the other flicka put on display. At least there’s some semblance of a story which is never really a given with these sort of things. The witness testimonies at the trial are a really economic framing device for small vignettes involving all different parties. It’s not exactly Schoolgirl Report (1970) styled cinema verité and it’s never as transgressive as Joël Séria’s Don't Deliver Us from Evil (1971) either. Wickman wisely concludes that the wise community gatekeepers (cranky old people and moral guardians) shouldn’t concern themselves too much with what people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, lest their obvious hypocrisy be exposed in the process. It’s exactly the kind of comeuppance they deserve, and one you seldom see in Hollywood treatments.