Top 9 Cannibals in Horror
Season 1 of NBC's hit show "Hannibal" is making its way onto Blu-ray and DVD this week. In celebration of this release, we've dug into the archives and come up with a list of the Top 9 Cannibals in Horror!
If the old adage is true and we indeed are what we eat, then that statement could not be more spot on than with the characters in the films collected here. We've assembled some fine cannibals, both young and old, for you to chew on. We’ve got some traditional tribal cannibals, people unknowingly cannibalizing, and a few other unique entries. Dig in!
We kick off with some honorable mentions. Many may not remember it, but Sin City featured a cannibal in the character Kevin. The deformed baddies in the Wrong Turn series never met a rump roast they didn't like. From the dramatic in Alive to the ridiculous in Cannibal! The Musical, we've got all kinds of notable films about human flesh eaters. Proving it's true that a family that cannibalizes together stays together was the movie We Are What We Are. And who could forget the over-the-top violence of Cannibal Ferox?
And now, on to...
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
Although it was hinted at in the original film, it wasn't until The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 that we really saw The Sawyer Clan's cannibalistic tendencies. And not only did they partake themselves, but Drayton Sawyer won several local chili cookoffs using their special meat. You've just gotta 'watch out for those hardshell peppercorns.' The Sawyers indeed knew their meat!
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Yes, Sweeney Todd is the star of this production, but whether you are watching one of the films or a stage version of Sweeney Todd, it's Mrs. Lovett (played by Helena Bonham Carter in the recent Tim Burton movie) that really gets Todd's murderous juices flowing. Facing a shortage of meat and money, Mrs. Lovett decides it'd be a shame to waste the body of a man Sweeney Todd killed in a rage so she decides to grind it up and serve it in her meat pie restaurant. It worked so well they decided to do it again and again and again. Karma does come back and bite her in the butt, but business sure was booming for a while.
With highlights like Farmer Vincent's classic chainsaw duel and the appearance of John Ratzenberger as a member of punk rock band Ivan and the Terribles, as well as a Wolfman Jack sighting, Motel Hell is a classic. And we all remember that Farmer Vincent had the tastiest meats in town. Why would that be? Well, he's got a garden full of people buried up to their heads in his backyard. Kind of like a new way to develop veal. And we discover that murder is just one of his crimes: This bastard was also using preservatives in his meats even though he claimed not to be! Preservatives! The audacity! Motel Hell was a riotous romp with an unforgettable performance by Rory Calhoun as our favorite cannibalistic farmer.
Okay, things are getting a little ridiculous here. Including Soylent Green, the first four films on this list all involve people serving human flesh to unsuspecting others and them enjoying the hell out of it! Drayton Sawyer had a mantel full of trophies, Mrs. Lovett was turning patrons away because she was so busy and Farmer Vincent had the tastiest vittles in town. In Soylent Green the hordes of people (40 million in NYC alone by 2022 according to the film) gobble up Soylent Green and turn up their noses at the inferior Soylent Red and Yellow. And, once again, we find out society definitely has a real cannibalistic side when Charlton Heston reveals "Soylent Green is people!"
As a horror fan, I've seen it all and come out okay. My appetite wasn't bothered in the least by either of The Human Centipede movies or A Serbian Film. I even once ate a rare steak while watching Dead Alive, but Cannibal Holocaust did me in. This film put me off meat for about two weeks. And it's not just the actual killing of animals depicted; Cannibal Holocaust is a really repulsive film. Ruggero Deodato absolutely achieved exactly what he was going for by shocking audiences for decades with this picture that could technically be called the grandfather of the found footage genre. Not for those with weak constitutions, Cannibal Holocaust gets the job done. And just FYI, the trailer below contains nudity, including plenty of man ass and junk.
"Skin and Bones" Episode from NBC's "Fear Itself" Series
Prior to the 2008 Olympics, NBC was running a horror series with various directors entitled "Fear Itself" similar to Showtime's "Masters of Horror." The Olympics came along and preempted "Fear Itself" but the network promised it would return once the Games were over. However, when the time came, NBC never returned to the series, canning it mid-season, leaving five episodes unaired. But the final show viewers saw was a nightmarish tale directed by Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter) starring Doug Jones as a man who goes missing in the woods and returns possessed by a wendigo to terrorize his family, including making his wife dine on a stew containing meat harvested from her lover in an extramarital affair. Yep, this ran on NBC! It was a fantastic episode, one of the scariest things I'd ever seen on television…until the "Honey Boo Boo" wedding.
There are not many films that pull in $350 million at the box office that have such blatant instances of cannibalism in them, but the record-breaking Hannibal didn't hold anything back. Even though The Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme, screenwriter Ted Tally and star Jodie Foster all declined participation in the sequel, Anthony Hopkins was on board, and everyone else was apparently replaceable. Not nearly as powerful as the original film, Hannibal does however have some memorable moments, the most stunning, of course, being when Lecter feeds a drugged Officer Paul Krendler (Ray Liotta) a portion of his own brain. All right, it was a little goofy, but that's not something you see every day!
The Hills Have Eyes
Jupiter's clan of cannibalistic baddies in Wes Craven's sophomore film The Hills Have Eyes brought a new level of violence and brutality to the big screen. Originally conceived as a retelling of the Sawney Bean legend (if you haven't heard of this one, it's worth researching!), the movie stars James Whitworth as the leader of the clan and Michael Berryman (who was fresh off appearing in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). The quality remake directed by Alexandre Aja took the story a bit further to give the savages more of a back story. Either way, the last thing you want to do is get lost in that desert around dinnertime. Yikes!
This movie, which underperformed at the box office, is a little cannibalistic diamond in the rough. Starring Guy Pearce and an outstanding Robert Carlyle, Ravenous is the blackest of black comedies revolving around the incidents at a frontier base during the 1840's. Jeffrey Jones and David Arquette fill out the cast, adding to the humor. This is another look into the wendigo legend and the belief that eating a man's flesh gives you that man's strength, cures your maladies, and gives you incredible recuperative powers. As gruesome as it is disturbingly funny, Ravenous is a fun ride that you can really sink your teeth into! (Sorry, had to do it.)
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