Gore-met Zombie Chef from Hell (1986)

Don Swan directed, wrote and produced one thing and this is it, the story of Gozu, a man damned to be alive forever but forced to feast on flesh, so why shouldn’t he share that with the rest of the world and start chopping up customers and serving it to other customers? For six hundred years, this is the way he’s been doing business, but at least now he’s figured out how to smoke out and wear comfy Hawaiian shirts in addition to masticating on people.

There’s a lot of 80s jazz — there’s a whole band playing live so this has commitment — and lots of women milling around Gozu’s beach restaurant, as well as some health inspectors and a cult called The Holy Order of the Righteous Brotherhood that has watched over the chef for centuries. Also: he is not a zombie, but that title is too good to play with. I guess if he doesn’t eat meat he turns into one.

One of the people he’s already devoured part of, Azog, stands outside the place and yells at people to avoid it. If he and the other hooded members of the Brotherhood are still alive are they eating flesh as well?

Filmed on location at Smokey Joe’s Cafe in Charlotte — which is still open, so eat there at your own discretion — this movie shopped local, as it has dancers from the Paper Doll Lounge. The fact that this business still operates more than forty years later proves that people in North Carolina know how to support mom and pop (and probably a lot of single moms) businesses.

I wrote for a burger restaurant for a few months and they always called out how they didn’t have freezers and ground their meat fresh every day. Goza’s Deli and Beach Club can claim the same thing but perhaps even better — or worse — because some of their ingredients are so fresh they’re still crawling around the plate.

The main drama kicks in when a girl named Stella disappears. Her man Jerry tries to get Tracy, a meat packing hard drinking girl who tells every man to “fuck off,” to help, but she just gets co-opted by Gozu, joins his side and kills the dude who may have been our protagonist. Stella’s roommate Missy, however, may be the prophesized high priestess destined to destroy Gozu.

The sad part of it all is that this movie is aware of itself and if it weren’t, it would be amazing. At least the box art is incredible.

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