Utah, 19th century. Alfred Packer rides the land on his beloved horse Liane and crosses the path of a bunch of gold diggers. They wanna go to Colorado in hope of being luckier, but there’s one little problem: their guide was struck by lightning! When the crew learns that Packer’s originally from Colorado, they convince him to lead them. But Packer ain’t much of a guide, and their trip sure is gonna be fucked up! The group, formed of Mormons, idiots and psychos, will survive through shitty weather, starvation and weird people. There’s a bunch of loud-mouthed trappers, Indians that strangely look like Asians, and even a Cyclops! But mostly, this will all lead to outrageous gore scenes and ridiculously corny song and dance numbers!
If you think that this movie sounds weird, you ain’t seen nothing yet! It’s probably because it was written and directed by Trey Parker, one of the creators of the “South Park”, arguably TV’s wildest show. The guy is talented, I tell you! Even with a shoestring budget, he achieves to make an original and entertaining picture. The opening gore sequence (shot in faded colors and bright reds) is extremely well crafted. The film loses a bit of steam after, but it remains a satisfying comedy. The cast seems to be having fun, and Parker, who plays Packer, shows real talent. The guy has great comic delivery, and he’s convincing in the role. His South Park partner Matt Stone also stars as a dufus sporting a Kyle-style hat. The film’s songs are surprisingly catchy. “That’s All We’re Asking For”, “Let’s Build a Snowman”, “Hang the Bastard” and others are very enjoyable. The film also has many funny scenes and more gore sequences, including a really cool fight between Packer and a tireless Mormon. In the end, the film ain’t perfect, but it’s an highly promising first effort from Trey Parker.
You got to give it to Troma. While big studios release many of their hit movies in bare bones DVDs, “the last true independent” studio gives us these wonderful discs packed with special features. There’s more than an hour worth of stuff here that doesn’t even have anything to do with the movie, like trailers for other Troma flicks, countless clips of gore and/or gratuitous nudity, a tour of the Troma headquarters with studio head Lloyd Kauffman, a trivia test…
Then, regarding “Cannibal”, we get some behind the scenes footage, an interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, a look at the stage adaptation of the film (!), trailers… And then there’s the running commentary, oh the running commentary! You know, this is one of the things I was the most interested in when I bought my DVD player, but it turned out to be an uneven venture. For every filmmaker who’s fascinating to listen to, you’ve got ten more who have nothing interesting to say, take long pauses, and just plain annoy you. The best commentary tracks seem to be those where it’s a couple of guys watching the movie and talking about it, like the ones for Kevin Smith movies.
Well, this is such a commentary. Here you’ve got Parker, Stone and buddies and co-stars Dian Bachar and Jason McUgh sitting in a recording room with a lot of beer and hard liquor and literrally getting drunk while doing the track! This leads to a lot of funny comments, some badmouthing about which cast member was an asshole or who slept with the boom chick with the big tits, as well as some truly juvenile moments where you realize that the “South Park” creators really do find farts funny!
Through it all, some actual insights into the process of making the film do get voiced. We hear about how this was a truly gonzo production, where no one was getting paid and where they had to be really resourceful to end up with such a relatively professional end result. We also learn that, as over the top as the movie gets, at its core this is really “based on true events”, and many locations and scenes are taking right out of the history books. Most amusing is the revelation that the whole subplot about Packer’s horse Liane leaving him comes from Trey Parker’s bitterness about his being dumped by his fiancée, herself named Liane! All in all, this is a very enjoyable DVD which, like all the best discs, gets you to appreciate the movie even more.