One of a few titles that were once put out by Anchor Bay, Cannibal Man sees live on DVD once again thanks to a re-release from Bill Lustig and Blue Underground. There are no differences between the two DVDs save for the cover art and this re-release's omission of the liner note insert, but those who missed out on the disc the first time around can now add this underrated Spanish thriller to their collections at a reasonable price.
Directed by Eloy de la Iglesia (best known for Murder In A Blue World), Cannibal Man tells the story of a man named Marcos (Vicente Parra) who toils away at his blue collar job working in a grimy slaughterhouse. When he's not at work he's trying to hold together the rather tumultuous relationship he's got with his fiance (Emma Cohen). When on the way back to their home one night the mood hits them in the back of a cab and when the driver takes issue with their busy hands, the girlfriend is threatened. Marcos reacts and winds up beating the driver.
When the cab driver dies, Marcos' girlfriend is overwhelmed with guilt and feels horrible about what Marcos did. She wants to go to the police but there's no way on Earth that Marcos is going to allow her to do that and after they have sex one last time, he makes sure she won't talk ever again. He stashes her body in his brother's room away from prying eyes, but various people keep showing up at Marcos' home meaning that his work isn't done yet, he's got to make sure no one finds out what he's done. All the while, Nestor, the strange man who lives next door, watches Marco's every move.
While there are a few grisly murder set pieces in Cannibal Man, the cover art for this release is misleading. The 'clever to the face' image you on the cover is from the film but there's a whole lot more going on in this movie than simply gory death and dismemberment and any cannibalism in the film is implied rather than actually shown. Iglesia lets the film creep up on us and slowly start closing in around us as Marcos slowly but surely descends into madness. As such, the picture is quite tense and brooding with some thick atmosphere and quite a bit of genuine suspense. Influenced by the films of Hitchcock and Polanski, the film lets us get to know Marcos enough that what he does and what happens to him matters. We're given enough information about him that he's more than just a slasher or a maniacs, he's an actual person with a very serious problem. As Marcos' relationship with Nestor becomes more intense and as Nestor's interest in Marcos becomes more obviously sexual in nature, we realize that Marcos is falling faster and faster into his own black hole.
Laced with some clever moments of dark comedy, Cannibal Man is an interesting and well made film that seems to get overlooked when considering the best genre films that Spain has to offer. It's quite well directed with some great cinematography, clever use of sound (the flies will start to grate on your nerves!) and an intelligent script. The performances are strong and reasonably convincing and the multiple layers that the story contains make for an intelligent and entertaining thriller that most horror movie fans should certainly enjoy.
Cannibal Man arrives on DVD in a 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that appears to be identical to the previous and now out of print DVD that Anchor Bay put out a few years back. The dark scenes are a little murky but otherwise this is a pretty solid presentation with decent color reproduction and strong black levels. There's a bit of grain and some minor print damage in a few spots but for the most part we're given a pretty clean, clear and stable image.
The only audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital Mono track. No alternate language dubs or subtitles are provided, nor are there any closed captions available. Dialogue is a little flat but perfectly audible throughout and the score sounds quite good. Levels are properly balanced and there are no problems with hiss or distortion. The audio quality isn't going to blow you away but there aren't any serious problems with it and it gets the job done well enough.
Aside from some basic menus and a chapter selection option, the only supplement on this release is the film's original English language theatrical trailer.
Don't let the ultra-gory cover art or the exploitative title fool you, Cannibal Man is more of a psychological thriller than a true splatter film. That said, it's quite well made and rather gripping. Blue Underground's disc looks like a port of the old Anchor Bay release and is light on extras but it looks good and it sounds fine. Recommended on the strength of the film.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.