Cannibal Man (US - DVD R1)
Another trip to the chopping block with Gabe, only this time it's not so bloody
Marcos is an average, lower class slaughterhouse worker who lives with his older brother in a rundown bungalow beneath the shadow of a new, expensive apartment complex. When Marcos accidentally kills a cabby, his girlfriend begs him to go to the police. He whacks her instead, and anyone else that questions the whereabouts of his victims. Meanwhile, Marcos’ ambiguous neighbour becomes a rather unexpected close friend.
Despite the exploitative English title, its banned status in the UK in the 1980s, and Blue Underground’s garishly grotesque DVD box art, Cannibal Man is not a particularly gory or even gruesome motion picture. Instead, this Spanish made pot-boiler is particularly low-key, slow moving, and often quite subtle. Eloy de la Iglesia’s film has very little in common with Umberto Lenzi’s jungle excursions, or even one of Jason Vorhees’ stalk and slash trips to Crystal Lake, and is more comparable to John McNaughton’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.
Though Marcos’ decent into madness isn’t as easy to believe as Hitchcock and Polanski’s better creations, the film still has an uncanny ability to deeply disturb. Though the plot isn’t terribly intricate (basically people keep stumbling onto Marcus’ secret and he has to kill them), and the camera work could charitably be referred to as ‘minimalist’, the filthy set design, buyable performances, and greasy atmosphere grindhouse their way under the skin and stay there pretty effectively. The film opens on a short scene of an actual slaughterhouse floor as actual cows are actually slaughtered. Just like similar scenes in Ruggero Deadato’s Cannibal Holocaust, these scenes of genuine slaughter add an element of realism to the tone of film (for better or worse) that never quite leaves (though in Iglesia’s defence, these cows weren’t endangered and most likely eaten afterwards).
The film’s dialogue suffers from bad English dubbing, but the characters still manage to impress, and the actors are surprisingly natural. The violence holds more of an emotional impact because of this, which sets the film apart from average slasher features. One might even say the rather drab gore effects even pull the viewer out of the shocked state they’re expected to create. The scenes left to our imaginations are infinitely more effective in this case. The underlying themes of social upheaval, the mistreatment of the poor, etc, are a little too blatant, and often a little awkward, but the homosexual implications are intriguing. These aren’t particularly subtle either, but the way the story comes together makes this additional element one of the film’s most original aspects.
Like so many Blue Underground re-releases of Anchor Bay titles, Cannibal Man appears to be utilizing the exact same transfer. I don’t own the Anchor Bay version, so I am unable to do a direct comparison, but I saw it recently enough that my memory is still rather fresh. This transfer is decent, but has its problems. The print strobes for almost the entire runtime, and sometimes the image warps a bit. Details are sharp enough, considering the sources age and budget, but contrast is a little too bright. There’s quite a bit of grain, but dirt and artefacts are hardly issues. Flesh tones are a bit on the red side, but not brutally so, and in general the colours appear correct.
The solo Mono track is no frills, but besides a little problem with fluctuating vocal volume levels, it’s clean and clear. The sound design is very minimalist, but effective, as is the music. There are only a handful of scenes with imposed score, and often they are entirely without production sound. It is unfortunately the Blue Underground wasn’t able to get a hold of the original Spanish track, because the dubbing is quite ineffective. The performances are flat, the lip-sync is way off, and the dialogue is repetitive and unnatural.
The only extra on the disc is a trailer. Not much.
Possibly too low-key, and a bit overlong for most rabid horror tastes, Cannibal Man may be worth a look for art house fans. It’s not a flashy looking feature, and ineffectual English dubbing hurts, but the characters are interesting and the film’s creepy nature is often quite effective. Don’t see it expecting gory murder set pieces or graphic flesh munching and you probably won’t be disappointed.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 13th November 2007
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Eloy de la Iglesia
Cast: Vicente Parra
Length: 98 minutes
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