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By Scott Phillips

AUGUST 4, 1997:  Is it wrong that I find myself inexplicably drawn not only to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (the TV series, of course) but also to that episode of "Baywatch" where the kid didn't like his dad 'cause he's a midget? And the midget wanders the beach while a tender song plays? That was damn fine television.

Night of the Zombies (1980) God bless our Italian brothers. Directed by "Vincent Dawn" (Bruno Mattei), Night opens with a couple guys inspecting a chemical plant in New Guinea. One of them finds a dead rat, which suddenly leaps for his throat. The guy accidentally releases a cloud of toxic gas (as one might do when attacked by a zombie rat), and before long, it's lunchtime for the living dead. A "special SWAT from InterPol" is sent to deal with the problem, crossing paths with a lovely TV reporter (Margit Evelyn Newton) and her cameraman (who looks like Carlos Santana). Margit and Carlos join the SWAT boys, and after some stock footage of animals (including kangaroos, which I guess are pretty common in New Guinea), Margit gets naked and paints herself up in order to communicate properly with a bunch of natives (actually more stock footage). That night, zombies attack stock footage of the village and our heroes beat feet (one SWATster screams, "Die! Die! You scumbags!" while blasting zombies). After making their way through more stock footage, they stop to rest in a seemingly abandoned house. While one of the commandos dons a tutu for a little musical number, his boss finds a zombie granny with a live cat in her stomach. Soon, a massive battle with the living dead is raging, and a commando wades into a group of walking corpses, viciously taunting them ("Don't let it worry you, I think we'll meet again--in hell!"). As flesh is devoured in greedy gulps, the survivors race toward the film's meaningful conclusion in a somewhat leisurely manner but still manage to make it entertaining. Just don't believe that "music by Goblin" credit--what they don't say is that they simply lifted the score from Dawn of the Dead! (Vestron)

The Flesh Eaters (1964) This one features a whole 'nother kind of flesh-eater, and it's one of my all-time favorites. The flick opens with a saucy, early-'60s bikini babe soaking up the rays on a small boat. When her rambunctious boyfriend accidentally yanks her top off, she leaps into the water. Loverboy follows, jumping in but never resurfacing. Soon, a cloud of blood appears around the girl--and then bad things happen! Elsewhere, a wise-ass alcoholic actress and her lovely assistant charter a plane flown by tough guy Grant Murdock. Forced down on a small island during a storm, they meet up with a mysterious scientist (who might as well have the word "Nazi" tattooed across his forehead). The egghead plays nice, but we quickly discover that he's conducting secret experiments with little glowing sea creatures who love to devour people (or, as Murdock puts it: "There are creatures in that water that eat flesh! I said eat flesh!"), and his uninvited guests will provide plenty of guinea pig action. It all sounds very simple, but I tell ya, this one has it all--manly posturing; sexploitation-style women featuring big ol' '60s bee-hinds in tight skirts; creepy little monsters; drinking and smoking, and best of all, Ray Tudor as Omar the beatnik. When he sees a victim of the flesheaters, Omar says "Hey! What makes 'em do it? You think they want the world to hate 'em? They wanna be punished because of some guilt complex? Hey--you think maybe they just kooky?" Man, is this one cool. (Monterey)

--Scott Phillips

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