The Cannibal Man (1972)

JUNE 3, 2010


I dedicate this review of The Cannibal Man (Spanish: La Semana Del Asesino) to my good friends Matt Serafini and Joe Canistro, who showed me the trailer about 9 years ago while we were shooting a short film that has yet to be edited (the footage was given to a guy who was going to edit it, and never did, but still hasn’t bothered to return the footage to me or anyone else. Schmuck). See, even though I’ve loved horror movies since I was a little kid, it wasn’t until college that I was ever exposed to anything beyond a few well-known Italian offerings from Fulci (Zombie) and Argento (Phenomena, or actually Creepers). The idea of a “Grindhouse” type movie was completely off my radar, and it was them who got me interested in such folks as Joe D’Amato and Ruggero Deodato. So thanks, fellas!

Anyway, the Cannibal Man trailer (which is the only extra included on the disc, beyond an “uncut” print, though sadly it only comes dubbed) pretty much shows every single kill in the movie, which makes it an awesome trailer to show to friends, but is most definitely NOT the best way to try to promote the movie, as you will likely be disappointed that the rest of the film is more or less just a guy hanging out and trying to cover up his murders with cheap perfumes and scented sprays (and I do mean cheap - he buys TEN bottles of perfume and six cans of the spray for a total of 20 dollars!). The trailer also masks how repetitive the murders are - all but two are the result of someone coming over and snooping around, discovering the body of the previous victim right before being dispatched themselves.

The title is also misleading, as he isn’t a cannibal! In fact, he’s the only one in the movie who ISN’T, if you think about it, as he eventually realizes he can dispose the bodies by dumping their carcasses into the grinders at the meat factory where he is employed. I kept hoping this plotline would expand, showing people eating meat and getting sick, or finding fingernails or something in their hamburger, but no. Strangely, the movie becomes a sort of character drama after a while, with the “Cannibal man” striking up a friendship with a very weird dude, and after they enjoy a leisurely swim and shower together (...), the guy reveals that he knows that our guy is the killer. But instead of killing him, Cannibal Man weeps, feels bad about what he has done, and turns himself in (or at least, calls the police and tells them he's the killer). The end. We don't even see him get taken into custody. Can you imagine if in the final reel of a Halloween movie, Michael Myers suddenly shook his head and said “This isn’t what I signed on for...”, and then removed his mask and turned himself in to Sheriff Meeker? Come on! Either let us see the guy get his just desserts, or have him kill the only one who can prove his guilt, and then be on his merry way, leaving me and the other assholes in the audience cheering. None of this reflective hooey!

I did enjoy the movie though. Anticlimactic ending or not, it’s much different than I was expecting, which is a good thing after 1200+ days of daily horror watching. And I don’t get to see enough Spanish horror flicks, so that was also a nice surprise as I thought it was an Italian one. I wish the original language track was present, as the dubbed voices seemed pretty disinterested, and there were a few odd translations (“I’m going to give you the beating your father never had time to give you!”) that gave the film an unintended comical tone at times.

I also enjoyed the odd little touches here and there, like when stray dogs begin gathering outside his house, drawn by the smell of the “meat”. And even though it got repetitive, I like how the guy is a serial killer of people who annoy him in his own home. It’s not like he goes out of his way to kill anyone - he merely makes a mistake and then tries to clean it up in the most awful way possible (though he does seem to enjoy it during a couple of the kills). But if those subsequent folks would have just left him alone and not gone into his bedroom when he asked them not to, they’d be alive today! It’s sort of charming in a weird way.

And I laughed my ass off when he looks at the paper and sees a full page photo of the cabbie that he killed (the first kill, which was unintentional/self-defense). Must have been a pretty slow news day if a random cabbie warrants the presidential treatment. Christ, even Dennis Hopper only got about 1/8th of the fold.

One thing that might turn some folks off is the film’s opening, which pretty graphically details the goings on of a slaughterhouse. It’s pretty gory and depressing - while I love a good burger, I try not to think of the poor cow being hung up and “cleaned” before it got to my plate. Anchor Bay was pretty generous with its chapter selections here, so I would suggest skipping chapter one (which is where all of the footage is, and pretty much all that happens in the opening scene) if you don’t want to risk choosing a salad next time you head out for a nice meal. And if you haven’t watched the trailer yet, definitely don’t until you’ve seen the movie (even though I just spoiled everything that the trailer doesn’t).

What say you?

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1 comment:

  1. Just watched this and written my review due saturday.

    I Really liked it - even the off beat ending! The gay subtext was hilarious though - Marcos didn't seem to realise that his neighbour was coming on to him - even when they played splashy-splashy in the pool.

    I have to wonder, gioven the age of the film, if a lot of the audience missed the subtext completely back then - it seems really in-your-face nowadays, but the media wasn't as gay saturated / friendly back then, a bit like how the victorians didn't realise that Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Grey" was gayer than a tree-full of monkeys!


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