ISSUE #8 FEB 06

Thomas Thompson

Cannibal! The Musical

20th March 2004
Cannibal The Musical Poster
reviewer: Thomas Thompson
rating: 5 out of 5
directed by: Trey Parker
written by: Trey Parker
starring: Trey Parker, Ian Hardin, Dian Bachar
genre: Comedy Horror Musical Western Comedy
released: TBC

A film from Troma studios would generally guarantee a few things: blood. Gore. Low budgets. Troma specialises in making movies that entertain visually, requiring little plot and much action. 'Schlock cinema' is the self proclaimed title of the 30 year old film company's output.

Tasty!!
Tasty!!

'Cannibal! the Musical' is distributed by Troma, and it covers the three points expressed above, but at heart it is not a Troma film, as such. It merely shares some similarities. Having existed under the title 'Alfred Packer: the musical' for some time before Troma came into its possession, it is, in fact, a debut film from Trey Parker. Made in 1993, many years prior to 'South Park', and three years prior to the film's Troma release, whilst he attended a college in Colorado, his dedication to the film resulted in his expulsion from the school.

Getting ready to leave
Getting ready to leave

Based on a true story the picture follows a man named Alfred Packer as he leads a group of miners through to Colorado territory in the middle of winter, in the late 19th century, in the hopes of securing the best mining land for gold. As is gathered from the title of the film, things don't quite go according to plan. Also from the title it is fairly obvious that this is a musical. It is a musical about Cannibalism. Doesn't sound too enticing? Well, no, quite frankly, it probably doesn't to a lot of potential viewers. Which is a shame, as it is my opinion that 'Cannibal! The Musical' is the second best film of all time ('Fight Club' taking pole position, naturally!)

"We'll just walk around it"
"We'll just walk around it"

The film is very entertaining. The lead actors do their jobs impeccably. The songs are catchy. The humour is genre-defining. The story is well-paced. The characters are likable, even as dense as they are, and overall the picture is one of those rare debut films that can make a director a household name. Unlike Tarantino or Kevin Smith though, Trey Parker's first film went unnoticed until the arrival of South Park, and even now it's still a largely unknown film. It can be imported from North America, on an extras-packed DVD, which is a highly recommended course of action to take. The 'drunken commentary' is a real highlight.

The trial is carried out
The trial is carried out

The opening scene of 'Cannibal! The musical' shows Alfred Packer (Trey Parker) violently tearing apart, and devouring, his fellow traveling companions. Its quite something, and quite misleading as well. What follows is a very funny, largely gore-free, well scripted tale, which finds time to include Japanese Indians, a Southern Cyclops, singing trappers, hidden messages to ex-fiances, and, of course, cannibalism and singsong.

"Let's build a snowman"
"Let's build a snowman"

With fellow actors Matt Stone (South Park, Baseketball), Dian Bachar (Orgazmo, Baseketball), Ian Hardin, Jon Hegel, Jason McHugh (Orgazmo), and Masao Maki (Orgazmo) as 'Indian Chief', Trey Parker has taken the true story of the only man to ever be convicted of Cannibalism in the United States and turned it into a laugh-a-minute tale of rivalries, friendships and heartache. The blurb on the back of the DVD states, "in the tradition of ‘Friday the 13th Part two’....and ‘Oklahoma!’ comes the first intelligent movie about cannibalism!" and it’s not wrong. The best film with 'Cannibal' in the title by a country mile, this is a very intelligent comedy musical with a sprinkling of black humour and gore thrown in for good measure.

The situation is desperate
The situation is desperate

Getting hold of this film is highly recommended, as only through experiencing this incredibely funny film can its brilliance be understood. Endlessly rewatchable, with as much humour in each subsequent viewing, this truly is one of those great films that must be seen. Even the odd drunk actor messing up his lines only adds to the enjoyment.

A cult favourite, directed by Trey Parker, written by and starring Trey Parker and Matt Stone, 'Cannibal! The Musical' is deserving of a place in any self respecting DVD-owner’s collection. Essential viewing.