I don't think that many people will unknowingly rent or purchase Cannibal: The Musical and not know what they are in for. The DVD is put out by Troma films and comes from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creative force behind South Park. There are however, a few surprises...the film is not nearly as gory as one might expect from Troma films or a movie about cannibalism, and sadly, it is not as funny as often as we have come to expect from Parker and Stone.
The film, actually based on a true story follows Alfred Packer and a group of miners as they soujourn from Utah to Breckinridge, Colorado to find gold and find disaster along the way, oh, and intermittenly breaking into song. The songs are of the 1950's musical style and are intentionally bad, but do have the unfortunate habit of getting stuck in the viewers head. The songs are not themselves funny, but the character's just breaking into ridiculous songs can be. The film was made seven years ago and represents Stone and Parker's early work done during spring break from school. The production values are quite good for such a product, and fans of South Park are treated to what may be the genesis of a few elements of the show. I swear Cartman's voice can be heard in one scene, and Stone's character often embodies certain character traits of Kyle from South Park. Also, the origin of the bit of music played in the Braniff ad at the end of each South Park episode is revealed in the first song of the film.
This film is not hilariously funny. It is entertaining and a lot of fun to watch, particularly if you are a fan of Trey and Matt and have been warned to lower your expectations for this film. There are a good number of laughs in the film, which are more fully brought out in the filmmaker's drunken commentary (see below).
For a student film, the picture quality is quite good. The film is presented in Widescreen and is fairly clear throughout the film. Though the film was made seven years ago, it appears cleaned up and has an overall very good picture presentation.
Cannibal is presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital. A viewer is able to switch between the film's audio and the filmmakers' commentary through the audio button, and, despite the fact that the film uses a lot of ADR recordings (the poor quality of some are pointed out in the commentary), the sound is generally quite good. There are not a lot of sound effects in the film which require a crisp sound, and the sound presented is sufficient for enjoyment of the film.
Whoa Nellie! Troma packed this DVD to the gills. First, the commentary is extremely enjoyable. With Trey, Matt and two actors from the film drinking whiskey and beer throughout the commentary, the group points out all the inside jokes, identifies all the locales used in the film, points out Trey's dad as the judge in Packer's case, tells a ton of stories about making the film and who the people who were in it really were. They also talk about inspirations for South Park, and how their view of Cannibal has changed in the seven years since they made it. They also show where the film makes reference to Homer's Odessy and how closely the film tracks the real story of Alfred Packer. It is definitely worth listening to and will enhance your enjoyment of the film.
In addition to the filmmakers' drunken commentary, there are 5 behind-the-scenes looks at the filming of a scene from the movie, two trailers for the film, a separate interview with Matt and Trey and one of their cohorts, footage of the film's songs being performed live on stage, and menus allowing for quick access to everything...and then we get to the Troma Films stuff. While the film has only a few scenes of violence, there is enough sex, nudity and violence in the Troma films extras included on this DVD to even make someone like Joe Bob Briggs happy. There are trailers for Killer Condom ("the rubber that rubs you out"), Citizen Toxie, Terror Firmer, and a steamy trailer for The Rowdy Girls starring B-movie queen Shannon Tweed and Julie Strain. There is a troma films trivia game where right answers are rewarded by gratuitous nudity and wrong answers are punished by scenes of graphic violence, there is a public service announcement for hampsters, one for hermaphrodites (starring Trey and Matt), a Tour of the Troma Studios with an interactive menu allowing access to all the rooms and...you guessed it...even more violence and nudity...including chickens having sex. There's a short compilation of the most extreme scenes from many Troma films called "The Brand New Soul of Troma", there are ads for the new book by Troma Guru Lloyd Kaufman entitled "Everything I needed to know I learned from the toxic avenger" and for the troma web site (http://www.tromaville.com).
While not as good a movie as I had hoped, it is a fun film. The DVD is packed with extras and will provide a good four hours of enjoyment if you take the time to listen to the commentary. The songs are bad, and I feel sorry for you if they get stuck in your head, but especially if you are a Matt and Trey fan, and you can get beyond seeing a movie about cannibals, this is definitely worth checking out.