The Corpse Grinders


1h 12m 1971

Brief Synopsis

When the Lotus Cat Food Company finds itself in financial trouble, the owners decide to find a new, cheap source of meat -- the local graveyard. Only one problem -- soon cats develop a taste for human flesh, and tabbies are tearing out throats all over town.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 29 Dec 1971
Production Company
C.G. Productions
Distribution Company
Geneni Film Distributing Co.
Country
United States
Location
California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 12m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Synopsis

At Farewell Acres Cemetery, Caleb, the gravedigger, unearths a corpse and adds it to the pile of bodies he has collected for Landau, the part-owner of the Lotus Cat Food manufacturing plant. After weighing the corpses, Caleb tells his wife Cleo that Landau still owes him for past loads. Meanwhile, at the Lotus factory, when Landau's partner Maltby harasses two employees, old, dimwitted Willie and the one-legged deaf-mute Tessie, Landau orders Maltby to treat their employees well, because they are loyal and will never reveal to outside authorities what they know about the company. When Maltby complains he has not received his share of the company's earnings, Landau stalls, saying that in six months they will have made their fortunes. After they meet with Caleb and load the bodies into their van, Landau also evades paying Caleb, who warns that next time, if there is "no money," Landau will get "no meat." No one is aware that, from a distance, a mysterious stranger observes their activities. Back at the factory, in a locked basement room, Maltby lusts after the corpse of a beautiful woman lying on a conveyor belt leading to a meat grinder. Once Landau arrives, they pour grain into the machine, as the conveyor belt moves the corpse into the grinder, and soon cat food is pouring out the other side. The next day, as Willie loads the company truck with boxes of cat food, the mysterious man surreptitiously watches. Nearby, at a local medical clinic, Dr. Howard Glass and his nurse and paramour, Angie Robinson, are perplexed that her usually docile pet cat attacked him. Meanwhile, Landau goes to a funeral home to deliver pork-flavored embalming fluid and pick up several bodies. Later, when the factory runs out of ingredients, Landau puts Willie in the grinder to make more cat food. Soon after, in the poor section of town, a sleeping woman is attacked by her cat. Her neighbor, alerted by her scream, kills the cat by swinging it against the wall, then takes the dead woman to Glass, who diagnoses the cause of death as a torn jugular. Glass has an autopsy done on the cat, which reveals that its stomach contains human flesh. Angie and Glass then go to the poverty-stricken woman's house to search for human remains. There Angie notices cans of Lotus cat food, the same expensive brand she feeds her own cat. Back at thir office, the doctor and nurse wonder why a cat would eat humans. Consulting a book on feline behavior, Glass learns that the tiger, which is closely related to the cat, is often called a "man-eater," but never craves human flesh until after it is first introduced to it. He and Angie then theorize that Lotus cat food contains human ingredients, which causes its feline consumers to crave the taste of people. They report their concerns to Mr. Desisto of the Food Adulteration Agency, who agrees to have his department look into the matter. During their meeting, Desisto's assistant finds paperwork showing that Carleton Babcock, a man reported missing, had planned to buy the Lotus factory. After Angie and Glass visit Mrs. Babcock, who tells them her husband was a shrewd businessman, they decide to pose as a married couple and go to the factory. Claiming they own a cat, they ask to buy a large amount of cat food for their pet and Landau sells them a box from an old batch. Fearing that Angie and Glass are with the police, the anxious Maltby later accuses Landau for getting them into trouble, but Landau reminds him how it all started a few months ago: Babcock, who is thinking about buying into the company, tours the factory, but realizes that their business practices are fraudulent. Not only does he back out of the partnership, he also threatens to report his findings to the police. Panicked, Maltby strangles him and Landau decides to run Babcock through the meat grinder to destroy the evidence. Their new recipe becomes popular and is sold as gourmet pet food. In the present, Harry, a thug newly hired by Landau, kills derelicts and other vulnerable people, filling the Lotus company van with bodies for the meat grinder. Meanwhile, Glass and Angie find no human ingredients in the cat food they bought at the factory, but learn that more people have been attacked by their pets. They again contact Desisto, who tells them that his investigation into the pet food has yielded nothing considered harmful, but mentions that his secretary was attacked by her pet cat that ate Lotus brand food. Hearing this, Angie's intuition tells her that the animals' aggressive behavior is linked to the Lotus factory. That night, she and Glass try to sneak into the factory, but are confronted by Landau, who accepts their flimsy excuse for being there and sends them away. Back at the office, Angie recalls how Maltby seemed nervous when they met him, but because Glass no longer shares her suspicions, she returns to the factory alone, after leaving a note for Glass. At the factory, Angie is captured by the lecherous Maltby, who ties her to the grinding room's conveyor belt. Meanwhile, Landau has gone to the cemetery to kill Caleb and Cleo, because he no longer needs their services. When he returns, he discovers that Maltby has stolen company money. Furious, Landau shoots Maltby but before he can kill the escaping Angie, Glass, having found Angie's note, enters the room. After Landau shoots and wounds Glass, the mysterious man arrives just in time to save them by killing Landau. Introducing himself as Paul Donegan, a special investigator, the man states that he is investigating Babcock's disappearance. Glass tells him that Babcock was probably the introductory sample of Lotus cat food. As they talk, cats mewing at the factory door gain entrance and begin to eat Landau.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 29 Dec 1971
Production Company
C.G. Productions
Distribution Company
Geneni Film Distributing Co.
Country
United States
Location
California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 12m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Quotes

Trivia

Released in the U.S. as the main attraction in a triple-feature package with Mostro di Venezia, Il (1966) and _Undertaker and His Pals, The (1966)_ .

Notes

Before the opening credits, a scene appears in which a woman opens her door to her mewing pet cat and is attacked by it. A shot of the woman's bleeding neck and face is intercut with shots of the meat grinder, a technique the director uses several times throughout the film. Ted V. Mikels' end credits read: "Editor, Film, Sound and Music Ted V. Mikels" and "Produced and Directed by Ted V. Mikels." Although a 1971 copyright statement for C.G. Productions, Inc. appears in the opening credits, the film was not registered until August 29, 1989 by Theodore V. Mikels under number PA-488-610.
       Although he is not listed in the onscreen credits, an August 1970 Daily Variety news item stated that Gus Lampe, a former general manager of the Schine theater circuit and a Cocoanut Grove nightclub entertainment director, had co-produced The Corpse Grinders with Mikels. The same article reported that Mikels had made the film with non-union employees. A January 1972 "Rambling Reporter" column in Hollywood Reporter reported that Sanford Mitchell, who portrayed "Landau" in the film, was paid $3,000 in salary plus a bonus of five percent of the film's gross.
       Although the October 1972 Box Office review lists the release date as July 1971, and a December 1971 Daily Variety news item reported that the film had been released in early April 1971 to approximately twenty-five percent of the nation's markets, no otheatrical penings prior to the December 29, 1971 Los Angeles opening have been verified. According to a December 1971 Daily Variety news item, the film's production cost was about $78,000 plus prints and it had, by that time, grossed over $1,000,000. The news item reported that Lampe attributed the film's relative success to "old-time showmanship" that included 1950s style exploitation gimmicks, such as nurses on duty to take the blood pressure of viewers, requirements that each attendee sign a "certificate of assurance" that he could take handle the shock of the film and parked ambulances in front of the theaters.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1971

Released in United States 1971