• Cannibal Man (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: August 24th, 2021.
    Director: Eloy de la Iglesia
    Cast: Vicente Parra, Emma Cohen, Eusebio Poncela
    Year: 1973
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    Cannibal Man – Movie Review:

    Directed by Eloy de la Iglesia (the same man who directed 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 (note that does provide the film with ample opportunity to show off some very real and very disturbing slaughterhouse footage in the film’s opening minutes). When he’s not at work he’s trying to hold together a rather tumultuous relationship with his fiancé, Paula (Emma Cohen). When on the way back to their home one night, the mood hits them in the back of a cab. When the driver takes issue with their busy hands, Paula is threatened. Marcos reacts and winds up beating the driver pretty severely.

    When the cab driver dies, Paula 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. 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. This means 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 (Eusebio Poncela), the strange man who lives next door, watches Marco’s every move.

    While there are a few grisly murder set pieces in Cannibal Man, its reputation as a straight up horror film is a bit misleading. The ‘clever to the face’ image you on the cover of the US release is from the film but there’s a whole lot more going on in this movie than simply gory death and dismemberment. 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, Cannibal Man lets us get to know Marcos enough that what he does and what happens to him afterwards matters to us. We’re given enough information about him that he’s more than just a slasher or a maniac, 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 sound of flies will start to grate on your nerves, but that’s the point – it works very well!) 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.

    Note that this release from Severin includes both the ninety-eight minute international version and the one-hundred-and-seven minute extended Spanish version “newly scanned from the original negatives for the first time ever.” This version moves the slaughterhouse footage that opens the shorter version back into the movie around the fifteen-minute mark and incorporates some of the scenes that were included on previous releases as deleted scenes back into the movie as well.

    Cannibal Man – Blu-ray Review:

    Cannibal Man comes to region free Blu-ray courtesy of Severin Films who present the picture in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The longer international version gets 28.7GBs of space and the shorter Spanish version 17Gbs of space, with both cuts sharing the same 50GB disc. The transfer is pretty solid, showing strong detail, depth and texture. Colors are reproduced nice and realistically and black levels are good as well. Skin tones look fine here and there are no problems with any noise reduction or edge enhancement. You might spot a few minor compression quirks here and there but overall, this looks very good.

    English and Spanish language audio options are provided for both cuts in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono with optional English subtitles offered for the Spanish track and English SDH subtitles for the English track. The film plays better in Spanish but both tracks sound fine, they’re clean and properly balanced. Note that on the extended version there are a few scenes that don’t have any English audio. These scenes revert to Spanish automatically and when that happens, English subtitles also appear automatically on the screen.

    Extras start off with Cinema At The Margins, a featurette in which Stephen Thrower and Dr. Shelagh Rowan-Legg, interviewed separately, discuss the merits of Eloy de la Iglesia’s cinematic output and legacy for twenty-six minutes. This piece covers the influence that the Catholic Church had on Spanish cinema and censorship restrictions, Eloy de la Iglesia’s tendency to use horror and thriller genres to make political statements without drawing too much attention to themselves, the mixed messages that the censors office sent regarding sex and violence in Spanish cinema, de la Iglesia’s frequent battles with the censors, what sets the director's work apart from many of his contemporaries, some of the themes that his films explore, the surreal elements of Cannibal Man, the commercial viability of Spanish horror films of the era and Cannibal Man specifically, the film's release history and how it does/doesn't deal with actual cannibalism, the two distinct periods of de la Iglesia and what sets them apart, how he took advantage of the loosening of censorship in Spain, details on some of the director's others films and quite a bit more.

    From there, we get The Director And The Cannibal Man, an interview with Carlos Aguilar that runs for eighteen minutes. In this piece, Aguilar, the co-authoer of a book in the director (sporting a great tie with The Phantom on it!), goes over the history of the man and his work. He talks about family movies that he made in the sixties, how Cannibal Man was one of the most shocking films ever made in Spain to this point not just because of the horror elements but because of the homosexuality in it, de la Iglesia's trouble getting permits from the authorities, details on Vicente Parra's career, how the film was received when initially released, notes on some of the films that followed in Cannibal Man's wake and other details related to de la Iglesia’s career and life.

    Severin also include approximately two minutes of deleted scenes/outtakes. These are presented in HD but there’s no audio to accompany them but they're interesting to see. Rounding out the extras is the original English language theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. This release also comes with a nice embossed slipcover (a bit sturdier and thicker than the ones that Severin has made in the past) and some great reversible cover sleeve art – always a nice touch.

    Cannibal Man – The Final Word:

    While Cannibal Man might be more of a psychological thriller than a true splatter film, it’s quite well made and rather gripping. Severin Films’ Blu-ray release offers up both version of the film in very nice shape and with some choice extra features as well. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Cannibal Man Blu-ray screen caps!