Friday, December 13, 2013

Flesh Feast, Whatever Happened To Veronica Lake?

Veronica Lake  is on my top 10 favorite actress list.  With glamorous roles in "This Gun For Hire," "The Glass Key," "The Blue Dahlia," and so many more, Lake was the epitome of Hollywood glamour in the 1940s and 50s.  This fame did not follow her into the 1960s, as it did Lana Turner.  Then in the 1970s, she was a distant memory.  Alcoholism and bad decisions felled her all too early.  Usually it fells most Americans in college, so one must credit Veronica Lake.

Anyone who possesses affection for Veronica Lake will find 1970's "Flesh Feast" hard to watch.  Unlike the TV made "Ants!" of 1977 in which an elderly Myrna Loy plays her role with class and dignity (even though it was opposite Suzanne Somers), Lake's portrayal of a mad scientist is crude and loud.  The plot:  Hispanic neo-Nazis collaborate with survivors of the Third Reich on a fiendish plot.  An investigative reporter is on to them and follows them through Miami to figure out what they have planned.  The Nazis are converging on a pseudo lab/hospital run by Dr. Elaine Frederick (Lake).  Enter a beautiful private-eye who goes undercover as a nurse and gets hired to work in this lab.

Once undercover, this nurse finds out that something diabolical is going on behind a locked door of the lab.  Other beautiful nurses who happen on segments of this secret are murdered by our Nazi friends.  What is the big secret?  Dr. Frederick is working on a procedure to reverse the aging process.  Too bad Oil of Olay has not been invented yet, because this procedure entails maggots eating the skin of old farts.  All indications are that Dr. Frederick is cooperating with the Nazis for some horrible project, but what?

Veronica Lake as a mad scientist?  Many critics use this film as an answer to the question, how far have they fallen?  Rita Hayworth, at about this time, was dragged off an airplane before take-off for ranting and raving in total nonsense (perhaps dementia).  In defense of Lake, she was playing a mad scientist collaborating with Nazis.  A close look into her eyes and one can see vestiges of the Veronica Lake that wore slinky gowns and crooned nightclub ballads......perhaps this is the sad part.

This movie is ten times better than Kevin Costner's "The Postman," and "Waterworld."  In 2013, the name Veronica Lake still conjures up glamorous images.  I am confident that today's so-called starlets, such as Megan Fox or Angelina Jolie, 40 years after their demise, they will be remembered as pathetic jokes.

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