Laurence Harvey (best known for his work in The Manchurian Candidate) stars as Jason Henry, a lecherous photographer with an inhuman "hunger" for young girls. He shares a lavish mansion – as well as some inappropriately passionate kisses – with his sister Grace (familiar 70s TV actress Joanna Pettet) in the quiet seaside town of Arrow Beach. When a free-spirited hippie chick named Robin (the crystal-blue eyed Meg Foster) decides to skinny dip on Jason Henry's private beach, the gentlemanly letch invites her in for a hot meal, a warm bath (thank you) and a comfy bed. This nubile young houseguest doesn't sit well with Jason's cagey sister, who tries to hide her brother's dark, dirty secret behind a locked cellar door. But what would a horror flick be if the curious young guest didn't wind up trapped in the labyrinthine basement, hunting down the source of a strange whacking sound? The answer falls somewhere between Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
It's a curiosity why Laurence Harvey picked this project, also known as Tender Flesh, for his directorial debut. The role of the cannibalistic ex-Korean War Vet turned fashion photographer gives the accomplished actor plenty to chew on – and he does a fine job with it – but his direction falls a bit short of matching the intensity of his performance. There are moments of horrific promise, like a sequence that flashes from an unsuspecting Robin eating a "steak" to shots of the victim who supplied the prime cut from his shoulder. And whatever Harvey did to get the brilliantly riled-up performance out of Stuart Whitman (as an embittered Deputy) was perfect. Unfortunately, Harvey became ill after shooting the film and was sidelined during most of the editing, leaving the studio in charge of the final cut. As a result, most of the movie's more horrific moments are left on the editing room floor (a flashback hints that Jason Henry's taste for human flesh was the result of a war-time plane crash, but we never get the gory details), and the sum total of murders seen on screen reaches a whopping one, leaving Arrow Beach more heavy on performances than gore. Still, for fans of obscure 70s "shockers," it’s well worth the 84 minutes.
It's a very rare gem, but you can find it at Luminous Film & Video Wurks