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Cannibal! The Musical!

     The creme de la creme of the Troma Pictures midnight flicks is this pre-South Park 1993 comedy tour de force from multi-talent Trey Parker. He not only wrote and directed and thought up the clever, funny songs (the best:"Shpadoinkle Day") but capably stars (his nom de plume in the credits: "Juan Schwartz") as real-life Alfred Packer, the only person in American judicial history to be tried, and convicted, of cannibalism. Parker's Packer is no pervert but a totally nice guy, deeply in love with his horse, LeAnne, who leads a group of miners in 1874 into the Colorado Territory in search of gold. Well, they get very, very lost, and, after one is shot and killed, the hungry others sit around the campfire and eat him, casually chewing on an arm or leg, though all reject as gross his dead butt. The black comedy scenes are deadpan hilarious, and Parker directs in a winningly classical style, rejecting fast cutting and barrages of bad jokes for knowing parody of both westerns and slasher movies. There's a stylish gallows-humor finale, with dancers and singers joined for a production number, "Hang the Bastard, Hang Him High" And watch out for experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage in a bit role.

(October, 2000)


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