Film Review: Cannibal Girls (1973)

Release Date: April, 1973
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Daniel Goldberg, Ivan Reitman, Robert Sandler
Music by: Doug Riley
Cast: Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Ronald Ulrich

Scary Pictures Productions, 84 Minutes

Review:

Strangely, I didn’t know about this movie’s existence until a few years ago. The reason I find that strange is that I’m a fan of Ivan Reitman’s work and I also really loved SCTV and that group of Canadian comedians.

I also find it odd that Reitman did a cannibal movie that starred two major players from SCTV before any of them had any real notoriety. As one might expect, this isn’t just straight horror and it sort of parodies the cannibal and gore movies that were popular with audiences of exploitation film.

All that being said, this was a cool experiment. It didn’t hit it out of the park or leave much of a mark but it was one of the very first steps in the careers of three talented people.

Now compared to the things it parodies, this is pretty light on gore. It’s more about capturing the same sort of vibe but having some cheekiness thrown in. It still has a gritty and brooding atmosphere that definitely feels authentic to the time.

However, also like the films it is channeling, it’s also mostly dull. While the black comedy sort of makes up for the lack of real exploitation, it isn’t enough to carry the picture or really salvage it.

Although, I liked seeing Levy and Martin play characters that were somewhat serious. They hadn’t quite grown into decent actors by this point but they are the best actors in the picture.

Reitman would go on to make some of the most memorable comedies of all-time but he was very raw as a director here. The film feels very green and there are some noticeable issues but to be fair, this was also better than similar films that lesser directors put out that wouldn’t go on to do anything worthwhile after starting in schlock.

This really isn’t a blip on the radar when looking back at exploitation cinema but this is something worth checking out just to see some of the earliest work by Reitman, Levy and Martin.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: the exploitation films it sort of parodies: Blood Feast, The Organ Grinders and The Wizard of Gore.

Film Review: Black Christmas (2006)

Also known as: Black X-Mas (DVD box title), Noël Noir (French Canadian), Negra Navidad (Spain)
Release Date: December 15th, 2006 (UK, Ireland, Poland)
Directed by: Glen Morgan
Written by: Glen Morgan
Based on: Black Christmas by A. Roy Moore
Music by: Shirley Walker
Cast: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Lacey Chabert, Kristen Cloke, Andrea Martin

2929 Productions, Hard Eight Pictures, Hoban Segal Productions, Dimension Films, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 84 Minutes (European cut), 91 Minutes (US cut)

Review:

“I’m sorry, but that-that fuckin’ voice, that was not Megan or Kyle. That was the fucking devil, and he was not talking to us, he was talking to Billy.” – Melissa Kitt

Being a huge fan of the original Black Christmas, I never really wanted to see this remake, which I heard was a steaming pile of shit. Well, it is a steaming pile of shit but I figured that a lot of time has passed since it came out and it is just after Christmas and I was tired of watching the same old stuff, year after year. Frankly, I’ve got my holiday movie staples and I plowed through them all pretty quickly this holiday season. Plus, sometimes I do watch shitty movies in order to review them. Sometimes I like torturing myself with bad films. Okay, all the time. Whatever.

I guess there are two positives I can say about this film. One, is that it tried to be ambitious and original with its story, expanding on the simplicity of the original. Two, I thought the cinematography and the lighting were well done.

But let me take that first example and tear it apart because even though ambition is good, poor execution can make it blow up in your face and that’s exactly what happened here. You see, this isn’t a film that needed to be expanded on. Nope. The first one worked because of its simplicity and its straightforward story. It had some mystery to it, you never really saw the killer except for an eye and his madness didn’t need to be justified by beating the audience over the head like a dead horse with an unnecessary and overly complicated backstory. The killer is yellow because he was born with a rare liver condition?! Huh?! Seriously, what?! And now there is a one-eyed sister with Hulk like strength?! Were they trying to ripoff the Yellow Bastard from Sin City, which had come out a year before this.

The film stars a who’s who of mid-’00s starlets: Katie Cassidy, Lacey Chabert, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Michelle “where the hell did she go” Trachtenberg. Cassidy, as much as I love her on Arrow, really had a reputation for being in poor horror classic remakes, between this, A Nightmare On Elm Street and When A Stranger Calls. I hope she’s gotten that out of her system because she’s pretty solid as Black Canary or whoever the hell she is on Arrow now.

Andrea Martin, who appeared in the original, returned for this. I hope she regrets her decision and she at least got a nice check for her role in this turkey turd.

This movie is an abomination: period. I’d rather enter myself into a holiday fruitcake eating contest than ever watch this thing again.

This obviously needs to be ran through the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read,”Type 4 Stool: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft.”

Rating: 2/10

Film Review: Black Christmas (1974)

Also known as: Silent Night Evil Night, Stranger in the House
Release Date: October 11th, 1974 (Canada)
Directed by: Bob Clark
Written by: A. Roy Moore
Music by: Carl Zitter
Cast: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Andrea Martin

Film Funding Limited of Canada, Ambassador Films, Warner Bros., 98 Minutes

black_christmasReview:

Some people have referred to Black Christmas as the first slasher film. It is hard to say what the first one was, as people have varying opinions on what exactly makes a slasher. If you consider pictures like Halloween and Friday the 13th to be the true slasher formula, then Black Christmas would be their godfather. In fact, the similarities between Black Christmas and Halloween are undeniable. Also, When A Stranger Calls borrows a lot from this picture. Needless to say, Black Christmas was a highly influential film on the horror genre.

The film takes place in a sorority house over the Christmas holiday. The girls keep getting strange and perverse phone calls. As the story progresses, one girl is murdered in the attic. Then the housemother is killed when she discovers the body. The police start investigating the missing girl and suspect the phone calls are related. More girls die, more weird phone calls happen and it all comes to a big crescendo once it is revealed that the killer is making the calls from within the house.

Directed by Bob Clark, who would go on to make the beloved A Christmas Story and Porky’s, this movie was the best of his career. Granted, Clark also gave us those atrocious Baby Geniuses films. But Black Christmas is an exceptional piece of work.

There were a lot of really artistic shots and the overall cinematography was impressive. The film had the warmth and welcoming feel of Christmas, all while generating a real sense of terror. The famous shot of the killer’s eye at the end is still one of the best moments in horror history. Clark really knew what he was doing with this film and he executed it brilliantly. Not only does Black Christmas still stand up today, over forty years later, but it is better than any modern horror picture in recent memory.

It is also worth mentioning that the performances by Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder were outstanding. It is easy to see why Kidder went on to have a pretty good career through the 70s and 80s. Keir Dullea, Hussey’s possibly psychotic love interest, gives one of his most memorable performances since he was Dr. David Bowman in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Then you have John Saxon, who came across as a much kinder and less drunk version of his detective character from the first and third A Nightmare On Elm Street movies. Also, you get to see a young Andrea Martin before she went on to become one of the stars in the great sketch comedy series SCTV.

Slasher pictures aren’t really known for being great pieces of filmmaking. However, Black Christmas really breaks that mold and it set a standard that was hard for others to measure up to.