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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 3/23/00

Cannibal! The Musical
1993/1996 (2000) - Troma

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Cannibal! The Musical Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+/B/A+

Specs and Features

96 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (extra layer for special edition material), Amaray keep case packaging, trailers for Cannibal! The Musical and the pitch trailer for Alfred Packer, previews for Killer Condom, Citizen Toxie, Terror Firmer and The Rowdy Girls, audio commentary (with director Trey Parker, producer Jason McHugh and stars Matt Stone, Dian Bachar, Andy Kemler getting all liquored up), Lloyd Kaufman's original introduction for the video release, Lloyd's new intro for the DVD release, behind-the-scenes footage, Troma's H.U.M.M.U.S. PSA (featuring Trey and Matt from a scene in Terror Firmer), interview with Trey, Matt and Jason in their beach front home, footage from a live stage performance of Cannibal!, song access, Tour of Troma, T.I.T. 2, Tragedy of Billy short, other assorted Troma propaganda, film-themed menu screens with animation and sounds, scene access (9 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none

"Excuse me. I've been doing some thinking... uhm -- just kind of looking at our situation here -- and I've come to the conclusion that we're completely f%@&#d! Has anybody else made this discovery?"

God bless the good folks at Troma. If anything can be said about them, it's that they try. If there is one studio out there that tries to completely satisfy it's fan base, it's Troma. Look at the above specs and you're going to see a tweaked to hell and back DVD. Just about everything that could legally be put on (read: stuff that wouldn't piss Trey and his lawyers off) was stacked onto this disc. As a special edition, Cannibal! The Musical shines as a standard other studios should continually try and achieve. But in terms of overall DVD performance, Lloyd and company have a ways to go to actually compete as a DVD powerhouse. The fact of the matter is, if you want to make a kick-ass disc, you have to follow three basic rules. Just call me the Aristotle of the DVD world. Why I'm referencing Aristotle and Troma in the same paragraph, I have no idea.

Rule One: Is the film even worth having on DVD? In this case -- hell yeah. Cannibal! The Musical is a cult movie if there ever was one. The wacky meshing of 1950s musicals with splatter movies and Farrelly Brothers/Zucker/Abrams-style comedies is simply perfect. It helps that Trey has real talent behind the music in this film. You don't get Oscar nominated for nothing these days. The film's plot follows the true story (with some hilarious liberties taken here and there) of Alfred Packer. Played by Parker (using an alias), he offers up to play guide to a group of men searching for gold in the Colorado territory. Of course, he gets them terribly lost while also searching for his beloved horse, and everyone dies. The horse by the way, was taken by a gang of ruthless trappers (to bang this ruthless part home, the trappers are clad in gang vests with "Trappers" emblazoned on the back. Nice little homage to West Side Story.). The songs themselves are hilarious. Starting with It's a Shpadoinkle Day, continuing with Let's Build a Snowman and climaxing with Hang the Bastard, each and every one of these songs will leave you out of your chair and on the floor. All in all, there are 7 songs and each one of them is comically perfect. Let's not also forget that the script itself is hilarious. The dialogue is funny as hell, the characters are all well drawn for what this movie is (a film made by a college kid, picked up by Troma) and the continuity even follows the true facts of Alfred Packer (believe it or not). Sure the Japanese Indians and Cyclops are made up, but most everything else is true. So with a worthwhile project, you can move forward to the second rule...

Rule Two: What kind of extras do you have? Making a DVD special edition requires that you put special stuff on board. Trailers, cast and crew info and fun menu screens aren't enough anymore. They're almost standard fare for DVD today. Troma recognizes this with Cannibal! to the nth degree. They surely do put in fun animated menus. There's trailers for this film and four other Troma-fests, along with interviews with Trey, Matt and star/producer Jason McHugh. All that is great - but they keep going. The commentary track (featuring a progressively drinking-to-unconsciousness crew) is damn funny. It's interesting to listen to, but there could have been more information. It's one thing to be entertaining, but a good track should be informative as well. Mostly here, we are privy to a bunch of inside jokes that are funny, but have little to do with us. Also on board is some footage from a live performance by a theater troupe based in Atlanta. This is a very original extra, but there's very little impact. You'll watch it once, and never think of it again. You get to access the songs from the film, some of the usual Troma fare like the Troma Intelligence Test (version 2.0) and the tour of Troma. This thing's as full as a baked potato. All of it is great. All of it is funny. All of it makes for a damn fine special edition. But is this a damn fine disc? That brings us to the last portion of the rules...

Rule Three: How does it look on DVD? In this case, not all that great. It's serviceable, don't get me wrong. But video-wise, Troma DVDs aren't up to a very high standard. They are very digital looking, grainy and show preservation damage. That may not be a problem for most of you Troma fans, but it slightly bothers this one. Will this disc replace my video? You're damn skippy. But, that's a given. I'd like to see Troma work to improve their video quality. They can be a little bit better in my opinion (and most others too) . Now, that isn't saying this disc looks like crap, because it certainly does not. It's very watchable. I just feel like Troma should rethink how they transfer to digital. Sound-wise, the disc is fine. The source material was never anything to crow about, so this represents the film fine. I would have liked some captions or English subs, mostly because it would be fun to sing along with the lyrics.

Troma has a great team working on DVD and they're improving with every release. I just feel that if they spent as much time on the quality of the presentation as they do on the special edition stuff, they would rock our collective worlds. Better video quality from Troma is all I'm asking for. But, for what this is, I'd highly recommend this disc to all fans of Trey and Matt. If you have just one Troma disc in your collection, this one should be it. I would suggest having more - but that's just me. Cannibal! The Musical is a funny flick, and this DVD makes it even funnier. Check it out for yourself, and have a Shpadoinkle day.

Todd Doogan
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