#282 -- Cannibal! The Musical (1993)

Director: Trey Parker
Rating: 5 / 5

I honestly cannot believe that I have not yet reviewed this movie, since it's actually one of my favorites. Some might argue that this can't possibly be considered a horror movie, but I really don't care. I, personally, classify it as horror-comedy, as it contains elements of both genres. And it was released by Troma, which is known for its horror-comedy. Sure, it might lean more toward the comedy side of things, but it still has that tiny little element of horror.

Cannibal! The Musical is actually based on a true story. Yeah, I know what you're thinking: yeah right! I thought the same thing the first time I watched it and I saw that in the opening credits. I thought there was no way something so silly was based on truth. But do some research, and you'll find that it's true. It's the story of Alferd Packer, a man who was convicted of cannibalism in Colorado back in the 1800s. So, yes, it is based on fact; though I highly doubt the real Packer and his men ran around singing and dancing. That's just what makes the movie so much fun!

In this version of the story, Alferd Packer was a miner. He and all the other miners were having trouble finding anything, and they had heard about a place where the gold was plentiful. So they set out to Breckenridge to mine for gold and become rich...or die trying. The group of men enlisted Packer as their guide, since he said that he had been there before. But, unfortunately, he didn't know quite as much as he led on, and the group got lost. They remained lost for a long time, forced to live out in the snow with no way out and nothing to eat. When one of the party was killed (shot in the head for singing a song about a snowman one too many times), they figured they could eat him to last at least a little bit longer. But before the end, one of the party went crazy and decided to try to eat everyone else. Since Packer was the only survivor of the group, he was prosecuted for the murders, and he was almost hanged. If not for a pretty young reporter who had a soft spot for Packer, he might have been dead meat.

Trey and Matt; or Alferd and Humphrey

So that's the basic run-down of the movie, but there's so much more to it than that. The group--which consists of Alfred Packer (Trey Parker), James Humphrey (Matt Stone), George Noon (Dian Bachar), Shannon Bell (Ian Hardin), Isreal Swan (Jon Hegel), and Frank Miller (Jason McHugh)--meets some very interesting characters on their way to Breckenridge. They met a cyclops, which was a big 'ol man with a missing eye that squirted some icky juice at them. They met a group of trappers who were real assholes. They met a tribe of Japanese Indians (complete with Teepees), and a weird prophet sort of guy like Crazy Ralph in Friday the 13th ("You're all doomed!") The miners themselves were a colorful bunch. Alferd was kind of weird, and you could tell he wasn't the brightest crayon in the box. Humphrey was even duller than Alferd, but he was hilarious. Whenever someone made him mad, his best comeback was, "Nice hat!" Swan was the annoyingly optimistic one of the bunch, which I guess is why he got his brains splattered all over the snow. Miller was the pessimist of the group and liked to sulk the entire time, and Bell was a preacher who seemed fairly normal most of the time.

The songs in Cannibal! The Musical are witty and catchy as hell. "Let's Build a Snowman" is the song that Swan sings, which encourages the others to look past the awful situation they're in and try to have some fun. "When I Was on Top of You" is a sad song about Packer's lost horse Liane. The song sounds awfully perverted, though you know it's about a horse...which just makes it even funnier. The Trappers' song is awful from a vegetarian's point of view, but even I have to admit that it's funny. "Shpadoinkle" is a song about how wonderful, beautiful, and "shpadoinkle" the day is...before they get lost and almost starve to death, that is.

The first time I saw it, I was kind of skeptical. I wasn't really sure what it was all about, or just how stupid it would be. Believe me, it's pretty silly, but it's so amazing you won't even believe it. And it's not even wonderful in that "so bad it's good" sort of way. Yeah, it's silly, but it's meant to be. These guys knew exactly what they were doing, and they know a thing or two about being funny. At the end of the day, you might think it's stupid. But really it's just a genuinely funny movie that succeeds on all levels. When I first saw it, I loved it. It instantly became one of my favorite movies, but there are some other reasons why I absolutely love this movie--not because of what kind of movie it is, or how good it is, but for what it did for me and the other things it introduced me to.

Alferd chowing down on Bell's throat in a scene that represents what everyone thought happened on those mountains.

1 - This is the first Troma movie I ever saw. I don't even remember how I came across it, but up until that point, I'd never even heard of Troma before. Once I saw this, I decided to check out what else the company had to offer, and it also introduced me to quite a few of my other favorite movies. I wouldn't know a thing about Toxie if not for Cannibal! And for that, I give it my sincerest thanks.

2 - It introduced me to South Park. If you're good with names, you'll realize that Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the biggest players in Cannibal!) are also the wonderfully weird and creative minds behind one of the greatest comedy shows ever made. I knew about South Park before I saw this movie, but I'd never watched it. Once I saw Cannibal! and realized who these guys were, I figured it deserved a chance. It became one of my favorite TV shows. You can even see glimpses of South Park throughout the movie, like Matt Stone doing Kyle's voice sometimes, and Trey sounding an awful lot like Cartman. There's even a scene where Humphrey takes his hat off, and there's this giant red afro underneath. It looks a lot like Kyle's picture day episode, where he too reveals his giant red jew-fro.

3 - It introduced me to the comedic genius of Trey and Matt. Again, I knew nothing of these guys up until this point. They made this movie while they were in college, so this was pretty much the beginning for them, and it only got better from there. Aside from South Park and the several Troma movies I grew to love after this, it also introduced me to some others, like BASEketball and Orgazmo, two of the greatest comedy movies ever, in my opinion.

4 - It's fucking awesome. That's the bottom line, and that's all you need to know. If you're a fan of seriously weird shit, you'll love it. It's kind of got the same basic feel of Poultrygeist (also from Troma, and also one of my favorite movies). It puts some comedy in something that's usually not funny at all, adds some fun songs and dance numbers, and creates one hell of a funny movie. Chickens, zombies, and musicals. That's what drew me to Poultrygeist. Cannibals and musicals...that's what drew me here. I was intrigued, though hesitant, and I'm so freaking glad that I gave it a chance. You should too. Even if you don't think it's extremely hilarious and awesome, you'll get something out of it. If you're a fan of Troma, you know where I'm coming from. Lloyd Kaufman, Trey Parker, and Matt Stone. That is a comedy team that could beat out all the rest.

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