Director Ivan Reitman is the man behind the hilarious, stupendous, faultless Ghostbusters movies (of which a threequel is set for release in 2012), along with a whole host of less spooky, more family friendly, comedy movies, two of which feature Arnie.
Interestingly, before the ideas of ectoplasm and a giant marshmallow man had even formed in his brilliant brain, it was at University in Canada where he made another comedy horror – this one a little less well known.
Cannibal Girls is a tale of a young couple, Clifford (American Pie’s Eugene Levy) and Gloria (TV and Black Christmas actress Andrea Martin). They end up in the small town of Farnhamville, where a local legend tells of three sexy young women being led to seduce and kill innocent men by a mad Reverend who preaches cannibalism.
Aware that the townsfolk are acting oddly, the lovers are already on edge. But when they get sent up to a restaurant which now runs from the house of the flesh eating sirens, they find themselves in the middle of a nightmare as the terrifying tale proves to be all too true.
Made by Reitman, who wrote, directed and produced it on a very low budget as a pastiche of traditional horror movies Cannibal Girls is very much of its time and has a schlocky charm all of its own. This is helped along greatly by the cast who improvised much of the dialogue around a rough central story.
Levy and Martin are especially excellent, along with unknown actor Ronald Ulrich who plays the Reverend with camp charisma which sways between comical and disturbing from scene to scene.
The most ingenious and original idea in the movie is the introduction of the ‘alarm bell’. As explained in a voice-over at the start of the movie, it sounds to warn more squeamish audience members of impending gore with a calming tone signaling once the dismemberment is through.
This gimmick is inspired, and while it ruins any shock or frights that would have existed, it instills instead a gleeful anticipation to the upcoming violence, making the murders all the more satisfying. Although to be honest, to today’s audience there is more horror to be found in Levy’s massive afro than the supposed scary scenes in the film.
Part urban legend slasher, part horror movie spoof, Cannibal Girls is a pure cult classic full of boobs, gore and 70’s style. And with a pack of extras to be found on the disc (including interviews and trailers) it is well worth a watch.
Now here’s hoping that they bring the alarm bell warning back for the next Saw movie, that would be fun!