Movie buffs of a certain age might enjoy one aspect of The Meateater, an otherwise laughably bad low-budget horror flick. The picture is a shameless riff on The Phantom of the Opera set in a movie theater, so scene after scene features views of vintage concession stands, projection equipment, theatrical interiors, and the like. Sitting through 85 minutes of dull stupidity is a high price to pay for revisiting the experience of going to the movies in the late ’70s, but, hey, you do what you’ve gotta do when you need a fix. Middle-aged shoe salesman Mitford Webster (Peter Spitzer) changes his family’s life by purchasing a defunct cinema in a small town, then throwing all of the family’s financial resources into restarting the business. What he doesn’t know is that a mysterious creep (Arch Jouboulian) lurks inside the building’s secret spaces, and that the creep has twisted personal reasons for ensuring the theater doesn’t succeed. Weird accidents ensue, some of which result in deaths, so slovenly detective Lt. Wombat (Joe Marino) begins an investigation. You know how it goes from there—the creep fixates on Mitford’s teenage daughter, it takes ages for people to interpret obvious clues as to what’s really happening, and so on. Some scenes of the creep prowling through shadows and eating rats (hence the title) are unpleasant, but nothing here is genuinely frightening or suspenseful. Worse, the acting is terrible. Oh, and scenes of Mitford hanging out with his family are stunningly square—not only do they sing the “Oscar Mayer Weiner” song for kicks, but Mitford exclusively programs a nature documentary so as not to offend a community once scandalized by showings of Carnal Knowledge (1971).
The Meateater: LAME