Movie goers attending SXSW this year were in for a real treat. Cannibal Girls was finally emerging from where it had been buried so many years ago. Cannibal Girls was Ivan Reitman’s second film back in 1973. It is a comedy/horror film made on a small budget intending to poke fun at the horror genre. This movie is most commonly known by the bell that rings in the theater before something gory shows to warn those that are “squeamish” to look away. My screening did not have the bell included, we were just given a warning that if we were squeamish, we were just “fucked.”
Of course what was considered gory and horrific in 1973 is pretty laughable now a days, which just added to the overall enjoyment of this film. Before starting the film, Ivan’s son, Jason Reitman (director of Up in the Air) came out to introduce the movie and give a little back story to how the movie sat around for years, was restored to the original print and how he used to have the original proton pack from Ghost Busters in his possession growing up (jealousy filled the room.)
The movie starts with a voyeuristic view through the woods of a couple enjoying a picnic on the snowy ground in Farnhamville, with plans to do the nasty, until a beautiful woman with an axe walks up and kills the boyfriend. She then proceeds to rip open the girlfriend’s blouse and place a dab of blood between her breasts, and as the shot just lingers on her bare chest, the theater breaks into laughter.
We are then introduced to our two main characters, Clifford (Eugene Levy) and Gloria (Andrea Martin), a couple who are looking at a map trying to figure out where they are. Let me remind you that this is 1973, Eugene Levy is in his twenties and has a huge afro and a crazy mustache and ridiculous fashion. I noticed that Eugene didn’t always have that nasally voice he uses in all his films now a days. You will recognize Andrea Martin as a young hot woman too. I remember her from My Big Fat Greek Wedding as the aunt who can’t pronounce “biopsy.”
They make it into town just before their car breaks down and check into a small motel which is owned by an old lady who tells them the story of the urban legend of their town. She tells the story of three cannibal girls named Anthea, Clarissa, and Leona who are beautiful, but psychotic. They lure men into their homes so they can feed on their live meat to remain healthy, immortal and beautiful. A wonderful couple of scenes are played out about the girls as she tells the story in which we witness three killings of young men that have all been lured in at different times under false pretenses. We watch a painfully awkward dinner with the three girls eyeballing their “meat” as they enjoy a lovely meal of someone else’s “meat.” The killings are so unique because the girls all have the ability to remain quiet and emotionless through out the process. The blood spills freely in a dark, almost ketchup-y look, which also adds to the giggles in the theater.
Clifford and Gloria are later interested in eating at the restaurant that used to house these cannibal girls and reliving the era. The only person they find at the restaurant is the strange host known as Reverend Alex St. John. He gives them the tour and sits them down for dinner. Little did the couple know the girls were just in the other room, preparing. Proving that the “urban legend”are still in business. They manage to make it through dinner with only one scare and as they try to leave, a thunderstorm breaks out and they decide to stay the night, under the hospitality of Reverend Alex. Even stranger things happen in the night as they try to get some shut-eye and the Reverend opens their door and stares forcefully at them for a long period of time, just to break out of the trance and warn them to ignore any strange or horrifying sounds through the night, another gut-busting laugh erupts.
I won’t spoil the end, although, it is just as entertaining as the rest of the film. The film would not hold up to today’s standards for plot in movies as there seems to be some holes and mysteries left open. The point of the film though is purely Grind-house. This film’s only intention was to give you a scare, a laugh and as many boob shots as possible in one film; it succeeded. There are a few more special screenings in some towns and then Cannibal Girls should be available on Blu Ray sometime in March. I will definitely be picking up this classic to show all of my friends. I have included the trailer below.
I give Cannibal Girls 4 “bloody ketchups” out of 5
by Angela Davis
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