Corpse Eaters (lost deleted scenes of zombie horror-exploitation film; 1974)
Corpse Eaters is a 1974 zombie horror-exploitation film written and produced by Lawrence Zazelenchuk and directed by Donald R. Passmore and Klaus Vetter (who also served as the cinematographer). Zazelenchuk owned the 69 Drive-In in Ontario where the film also had its initial run. The movie was locally produced within the city of Sudbury on a budget of thirty-six thousand dollars, raised by Zazelenchuk himself. Due to the violent nature of the film, several scenes ended up being cut from it.
The simplistic story is indicative of many post-Night of the Living Dead/pre-Dawn of the Dead era zombie films. A majority of the action is conveyed through flashbacks and nightmare sequences. The film starts at a funeral home where the mutilated body of a young man is being prepared. From there, it shifts to the young man, his sister, and their companions on a wild picnic. They decide on a whim to spend the night in a graveyard where they perform a séance to raise the dead.
A majority of the gore effects were quite visceral. During one scene in the cemetery, one ghoul chops off a character’s hand with a shovel and another is stabbed to death. Because of this, the censorship board cut roughly five to eight minutes of footage from the original feature-length film. This prompted the addition of a warning signal to accommodate squeamish audiences.
Even though the only confirmed screenings were in Canada, Corpse Eaters was purchased by Howard Mahler Films for a Stateside release (just as they did for Dario Argento's Deep Red). Reportedly, this arrangement was only for tax purposes and nothing of the sort came about even though there is a widely circulated poster crediting Mahler as a distributor. The only way to acquire a DVD copy is through the independent seller, Encore Entertainment. The Encore Entertainment version clocks in at fifty-seven minutes and is transferred from a VHS source dated 1993.
Despite the lack of a trailer, YouTube user redleafKlassics posted the forty-second video of clips from the movie in 2009, which was eventually deleted. Beginning at the 17-second mark, the video showed scenes that don’t appear in the Encore Entertainment version. These featured an unknown woman wolfing down a chicken dinner and a ghoulish character butchering a human corpse. So far, it is not known if these were from the longer cut or were spliced in from unrelated film sources, and no other videos containing the deleted scenes have been found.
The original negatives, 35mm prints, and other source materials are apparently held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC). As of 2022, the film is still under copyright, with the rights being held by Don Zazelenchuk. The copyright, however, should expire no later than 2024 (50 years from 1974), which would make it fall into the public domain and allow it to be freely accessible for duplication.
A 35mm print is also available at the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University. It is unknown if either the LAC negatives or the Kinsey Institute copy have the missing content from the film.
- A page for the film on "The Zombie Site". Retrieved 15 May '19