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The Stink of Flesh

Scott Phillips, USA, 2004

Rating: 3.3


Posted: August 29, 2005

Iíve seen many films, and each has left upon me some imprint, a piece of the work that stays nestled deep within my subconscious. Now, so far, I have had little difficulty in expressing exactly what that imprint was, be it good, or in my line of work, usually very bad. Well, my friends, that streak is now officially over. I have seen The Stink of Flesh. And yes, it has left an imprint on me, but I have no idea what it is. It sits there like a thorn in my mind and haunts me when times are quiet. Prepare yourself.

The film is a zombie story, of sorts, in that there are in fact zombies in it. No time is wasted in letting us see them. Hell, they are shown while the opening credits are rolling. We are quickly introduced to Matool (think of him as a smaller version of The Rock). Matool carries around a hammer and gutter nails. I myself would have chosen a rifle, but hey, thatís what freedom is all about. He deals with the zombies by physically beating them, and then hammering said gutter nails into their skulls. Risky? Yes. But man, it makes for an awesome fight scene. Anyway, Matool is almost run over by a small pickup truck. When he awakens from the encounter, he is bound in the bed of the vehicle and ferried to a self-sufficient residence somewhere in outer wilds of New Mexico.

Here, Matool is expected to have sex with his captorís wife. (Hey, apparently open marriages are even immune to a zombie apocalypse!) It was at this point that I got the distinct impression that this film was about to take an unexpected turn. And turn it did. As Matool is ďengagingĒ the wife, a very creepy woman shuffles into the room, and begins to flog Matool with what appears to be part of a Hot Wheels toy track. See what I mean? Matool tumbles from bed, sees this woman and her malformed conjoined twin, which was pretty much a set of teeth and eyes on the side of her body. You all have to be feeling this! I ainít even close to done.

Turns out that Matoolís captor, Nathan, keeps a female zombie chained up in a small shed in the back. Iíll give you two guesses why he keeps her there. It seems that open marriages also include the undead. In all fairness, the hottest chick in the film was this zombie chick, and it's pretty bad when the best eye candy is decomposing, but thatís not the point. I can no longer do adequate justice to the film's sequence, so allow me to give you the recipe used to cook this cinematic casserole surprise. The ingredients are:

1. Hammer toting semi-hero

2. Zombies

3. Hyper-zombies

4. Pedophile wearing a hat nicked from Jamiroquaiís personal collection

5. Husband who captures survivors to have sex with wife

6. Husband who has intercourse with really pissed off bound zombie

7. Woman with conjoined twin and infant genitalia

8. Man who examines random fecal matter on road to see if it came from zombie

9. Man who kisses malformed conjoined twin

Throw all these together and shake them up for about eighty-odd minutes, and you have The Stink of Flesh. Unique? Oh yes, if nothing else, this backyard cinema extravaganza is certainly unique. The odd thing is, the film is competently executed. It is solidly edited and well lighted. I get the feeling that the makers of this film are some very, very wild beings who have probably left few avenues of depravity unexplored. Basically, a bunch of New Mexico hedonists filmed their weekend exploits and had a few friends dress up as zombies just to liven up the party. Hey, whatever strokes your feathered boa, just donít splash on me!

However, there is some genius in this, and it is not lost on me, even though Iím having difficulty articulating what it all means. In a way, itís like seeing a picture of a nude Bea Arthur in front of a Van Gogh painting. Itís all a question of whether you can see past the horror to appreciate the beauty. To be honest, Iím still working through it.

I will give credit where it is due. Stink is like no other zombie film you have ever seen. There are few movies around in which the zombies seem to be the lesser of natureís cruel, freakish plan. Here, they are. I canít think of any taboos that are left unviolated. Iím sure there was some form of bestiality in the background when I was doing the umpteenth double-take at what Iíd just seen. Ya want freaks and zombies? Ya want to see what civilization would look like if carnival oddities were the only survivors? Then Stink of Flesh is indisputably the film for you. Why you would want to see these things is between you and your therapist. Me, I got an excuse... a very low-paying excuse, but an excuse nonetheless.

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 Clemenza's Ratings Key:

 5.0: A drop of bliss

 4.0-4.9: Touchdown!
 3.0-3.9: Close, but...
 2.0-2.9: Box of Rocks
 1.1-1.9: Time bandit
 0.0-1.0: Soul scarring
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