“Cannibal! The Musical” was among the first films put together by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Parker directs a college age crew, including himself as the title character, Alfred Parker, the legendary cannibal settler in Colorado. Legendary is a helluva stretch, since the legend of Alfred Packer is probably better advertised in this movie than the majority of literature before its release.
Parker (credited as Juan Schwartz) leads the cast including notables Stone, Bachar and McHugh as they head to Colorado territory to make their fortune. Of course, everything goes horrifically wrong, as Packer leads them astray, loses his horse to a group of trackers, runs into Indians from the land of the rising sun, and comes face to gooey face with the ever-deadly Cyclops.
Packer’s story is told through flashbacks, as well as the building love interest with reporter Polly Pry (Walters). In the end, the budding love saves the day, much unlike the case of the real Packer. Cannibal truly is a musical, featuring knockout numbers like “It’s a Shpadoinkle Day”, “When I Was on Top of You” and the instant classic “Let’s Build a Snowman”.
Within ten minutes, the film explores the irony of Lucky Larry, throws in a tribute to Friday the 13th, and shows the depth of the special effects budget. The majority of extras appearing in the film are classmates or professors from Stone and Parker’s attendance at University of Colorado at Boulder.
Over the length of the film, Cannibal quickly becomes a perfect example of guilty-pleasure college-age film students making a movie for fun rather than profit. In the end, Cannibal was likely only released due to the later success of South Park.
Released by Troma, Cannibal boasts a truckload of extras. These include an intro by Lloyd Kaufman, a great drunken commentary track, behind the scenes footage, the Troma Intelligence Test (T.I.T.) 2, footage from live stage performance of the musical, a public service announcement featuring Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmeister, and more!
Some of the sight gags in Cannibal are pretty straightforward, including the trappers wearing colors like a motorcycle gang, and the severed limbs, as well as Stone’s great hair do. As the characters begin to reveal their own motives (through song), Bachar shines, since his character’s primary motivation is getting a piece of tail.
The drunken commentary track breaks down to a really drunken commentary track, very similar to the same crew providing audio for their later release, “Orgazmo”. Just as Parker is quick to point out Bachar’s dildo helmet in Orgazmo, he’s very quick to point out Stone’s scene in drag late in this film.
Cannibal was originally going to be called “Alferd Packer, the Muscial” though Kaufman talked the boys into renaming it, since Packer’s legend doesn’t extend too far outside of Colorado state lines. Apparently, the University has a cafeteria named after him, which is pretty funny in itself. Researching the cannibal turned up a number of interesting facts, including lyrics from “The Ballad of Alfred Packer”:
In the Colorado Rockies
Where the snow is deep and cold
And a man afoot can starve to death
Unless he's brave and bold
Oh Alfred Packer
You'll surely go to hell
While all the others starved to death
You dined a bit too well
Overall, the film is great drunken fun by itself, but digging in to the behind-the-scenes footage, the commentary, and the extras added post-production really turns a fun time into an absolute ridiculous festival of absurdity. Watch this movie enough and singing the snowman song will become a staple of many crazy nights in drunken winter get-togethers.
Maki owns the restaurant, Sushi Zanmai in Boulder, CO, and appears in Orgazmo as G Fresh, owner of a sushi restaurant. The courthouse scenes were filmed in the actual courtroom where Packer was found guilty. The absolute silliness of the movie is difficult to translate into a review, similar to the actual insanity that went into making the film.
It’s probably easily noted that the word drunken appears early and often in this review. There’s a very very good reason for that. This movie was meant to be watched in exactly that manner, and probably half-filmed in it as well. Check it out sober for fun but make a drinking game out of it and it becomes really enjoyable!