Some people will eat anything! Here are 5 Classic Cannibal Culture films that deserve a second helping...I mean look. That is, if you can stomach it...
1. DERANGED (1974)
Directed by: Alan Ormsby and Jeff Gillen
Produced by: Tom Karr
Written by: Alan Ormsby
Starring: Roberts Blossom, Cosette Lee, Leslie Carlson, Robert Warner
Distributed by: American International Pictures
Released: February 1974
Ezra Cobb (creepily portrayed by Roberts Blossom – who usually plays an old man weirdo in countless films including Christine, and as Old Man Marley in Home Alone opposite Macauley Culkin) endures a lifetime of emotional and physical abuse by his single parent Mother: a jilted woman and incredible religious fanatic. Ezra's mom spent decades instilling a latent hatred of women in him, as she was forever afraid that he would leave her one day for another woman just like Ezra's father did many many years prior. Well, Momma suddenly just dies and Ezra is left purposeless as he has served her every demand for years. After a while, Ezra's complete dependence on his mother causes him to go bonkers out of loneliness having no other connections in his life. He digs up her interred body, believing that she is still alive, and mounts her, fully dressed, in a rocking chair in her bedroom. Having learned taxidermy, Ezra begins robbing fresh graves in order to use various body parts to “put Momma back together.” He uses extra pieces of the decomposed bodies as home decor. But Ezra soon desires fresher specimens and his completely deranged obsessions go beyond the recently deceased, and he becomes a serial killer. Luring women into his grasp, he soon finds various other “creative” ways in which to decorate his home.
Deranged is a quiet chiller that creeps up on you pretty fast with its gory and indescribable acts of depravity. The movie is a close fictionalized account of infamous serial killer, cannibal, and grave robber Ed Gein that isn't biographical. A few points were altered for storytelling purposes, but generally much of the details of Gein's heinous crimes are disturbingly portrayed with near perfect accuracy in this film. The scene in the movie with a woman hanging from the rafters of his barn like a slab of beef is sequenced almost exactly like the 1957 Plainfield Wisconsin police file footage of Gein's atrocities. Many films have used the Gein story as inspiration for their stories (a couple of examples include Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), but Deranged depicts the source material with an almost celebratory zeal.
An added thrill for me personally, is that Deranged was filmed and edited near my house – granted 30 years before I lived here, but it's still pretty cool to drive by the general store (or what's left of it) in Enniskillen, Ontario and picture some of the scenes being shot there. Also, many of the interior shots of Ezra's house and barn were filmed, and edited, at the former Canukr Studios in Mitchell Corners, Ontario near the Supermarket where I shop for my groceries.
2. THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977)
Directed by: Wes Craven
Produced by: Pete Locke
Written by: Wes Craven
Starring: Susan Lanier, Michael Berryman, Robert Houston, Martin Speer, Dee Wallace, Russ Grieve
Released: July 22, 1977
The Hills Have Eyes (1977) tells the tale of an All-American family taking a cross-country trip in an RV that gets marooned in a Southwestern U.S. desert. They are soon plagued, harassed, and brutally assaulted by a family-tribe of cannibalistic mutants hell-bent on destroying this harmless and decent family. The family fights back and what results is an early horrific masterpiece in Wes Craven’s repertoire.
Hills is brutal and unflinching. A family stranded must defend themselves against a roaming band of hideously deformed murderers; which turns out we’re made that way due to exposure to massive amounts of radioactivity.
This part of the desert is where the United States used to conduct their nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s, and the resultant radioactive fallout produced these crazed blood-thirsty maniacs.
The movie has some great, tense moments and also some shocking and brutal assaults — from both sides. Much like Craven’s first effort with Last House on the Left (1972), his early films shared a thematic similarity of having the victims take a stand against their attackers and enacting their revenge in every bit as brutal a fashion as the mutated freaks hunting them.
Shot with an incredibly low budget of $230,000, the movie fared incredibly well; bringing in almost ten times that at the box office. An inevitable sequel was made in 1985, and a remake of the horror classic produced by Wes Craven and directed by Alexandre Aja was released in 2006.
3. ANTHROPOPHAGUS (1980)
Directed by: Joe D’Amato
Produced by: Joe D’Amato, George Eastman, Oscar Santaniello
Written by: Joe D’Amato and George Eastman
Starring: Mark Bodin, Bob Larson, Tisa Farrow, Serena Grandi, Saverio Vallone, Margaret Mazzantini
Released: August 9, 1980
Anthropophagus is an Italian offering from director Joe D’Amato and set in the Greek isles. It falls in line with the cannibalistic craze of horror films that were prevalent throughout the 1970s and early 1980s such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Motel Hell. In the film, a small group of travelers make their way to an apparently abandoned island town. They are soon stalked by a towering crazed grotesque killer that feeds on flesh, and may have been responsible for the brutal slaying of the residents of this island. Now, the bloodthirsty maniac has his sights set on these wayward travelers and he plans on having them for dinner.
This film was so gory – indecent – and disturbing that it was banned for many years from many European countries — most notably in the U.K. where it made the legendary “video nasties” list in the 1980s. There are several scenes in this movie that will just make your skin crawl. I watched it in Italian with no English subtitles so I had to follow the movie based on what I was seeing on screen. It mostly kept my attention with its intense and over the top kill sequences. It also has an ending you’ll not be soon to forget!
4. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980)
Directed by: Ruggero Deodato
Produced by: Franco Palaggi
Written by: Gianfranco Clerici
Starring: Robert Kerman, Gabriel Yorke, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, Luca Barbareschi
Released: February 7 1980
Apparently the Horror world didn’t go vegetarian until Little Shop of Horrors in 1986…oh wait, no that’s not right…that’s more of a man-eating plant. Well, regardless, the years preceding Audrey II, the 1970s and early '80s saw an upsurge in films portraying flesh-eating cannibalistic lunatics. One particular of this sub-genre, Cannibal Holocaust (1980) directed by Ruggero Deodato, focuses on an investigative news and research team that travel deep into the jungles of South America in search of a documentary film crew from a previous expedition that has completely disappeared without a trace. When they arrive, they soon encounter a primitive tribe of cannibals and discover the previous team’s fates.
The movie is perhaps one of the most renowned, yet reviled, of the man-meat eating bunch. It was painstakingly difficult to sit through. Its primal, abhorrent (like the rape scene with a beheading), graphically brutal (bodies left skewered and impaled), and brilliantly shot in the Found Footage style of tale, it's carnal and unforgiving and was banned in dozens of countries around the world and director Deodato was also charged (but not convicted) with breaking obscenity laws. It has been heavily criticized about the mutilation of live animals, and it’s extremely graphic brutality. The movie was Soooo realistic, that people had a hard time accepting that what they saw was just a movie.
See the movie once to pique your disgustingly morbid curiosity. Then go and eat a salad.
5. MOTEL HELL (1980)
Directed by: Kevin Connor
Produced by: Robert Jaffe, Steven-Charles Jaffe
Written by: Robert Jaffe, Steven-Charles Jaffe, Tim Tuchrello (uncredited)
Starring: Rory Calhoun, Paul Linke, Nancy Parsons, Nina Axelrod, Wolfman Jack
Released: October 18, 1980
“It takes a whole bunch of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters!”
Preceding the slasher trend of the 1980s, this film is more of a light-hearted and down-homey version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is certainly a bit of a tongue-and-cheek parody / satire of the cannibal horror trend that arose out of the 1970s. Farmer Vincent, and his little sister Ida, run an off-the-beaten-path motel down south. Secondary to this, Vincent is known throughout the county as having the best smoked meat around — people come by during the day to purchase some of the delicious sausages. Unbeknownst to the community at large, they’re eating people! Farmer Vincent sets road traps late at night and abducts the victims, placing them in an ungodly “patch” hidden on his farm behind the motel. Little do these unfortunate souls realize that they are soon going to be the main course! Vincent and Ida’s schemes are threatened when Vincent falls for a young hottie that he decides to nurse back to health instead of cure for jerky. The naïve young lady, and Vincent’s younger brother, Sherriff, discover what’s happening on the grounds. But it may be too late to stop the maniacal duo from making them the next special of the day!
Those look yummy! But don't take my word for it, try them for yourself!! What are YOUR favorite Cannibal Culture Horror Films?