The Cannibal Man

The Cannibal Man [Movie review by Jori]

The Cannibal Manaka La semana del asesino; The Apartment on the 13th Floor
98 min., 1973
Directed by Eloy de la Iglesia
Language: Spanish with English subtitles/with dialogue dubbed in English
My rating: ★★★★
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A misleading title, but it doesn’t matter – this is all sorts of awesome!

* * *

Marcos (Vicente Parra) leads a fairly average life.  He works at a slaughterhouse and loves to make out with his gorgeous girlfriend in the back of a taxi cab.  Which is fine if the taxi driver wasn’t such a prude who kicks them out and then demands they pay him for the fare.  What nerve!  Of course Marcos kills him.  Accidentally.  Too bad the strain of keeping that secret forces him to keep killing people who either suspect, or find out, about it.  Keeping dead bodies under your bed, hoping it will turn into a bed-of-holding is not necessarily the smartest thing to do.  How many people will Marcos have to kill in order to keep his secret?

The opening scene is of a real slaughterhouse.  Bam!  Cows being slaughtered kosher style.  Well alright then.  If nothing else happens, I can see why this was included in the Video Nasties collection.  Let this also serve as  a warning to those a bit more sensitive regarding animal “cruelty”.  (It didn’t bother me as much because I don’t eat kosher food.  Also, I figure those cows were not killed just for the film – they were meant for food.  And hamburgers are delicious.)  It’s a sneaky trick to grab the audience, but it didn’t really irritate me.  If anything, it made me sit up and take notice.

Soon enough though this turns a bit funny.  Only available with English dubbing, some of the most awkward dialogue becomes hilarious.  Not in a bad way though – it just helps bring some lightness to the situation.  With one of my most favorite lines uttered in all of history: “I’ll give you the beating your father never had time to!”  I laughed my way through the entire film.  Marcos isn’t some slick serial killer at all.  He made one stupid mistake and in trying to keep his secret he keeps getting himself into even worse situations.  You do have to feel bad for the poor guy – he’s going broke buying air fresheners just to make the house tolerable.  And when you get to the point where you sit outside your house because even you can’t stand the smell… well… I almost feel bad for him.  He isn’t evil.  He’s an idiot who is in way over his head.

While the gore is satisfying enough, it isn’t quite as bloody as one would expect.  But the effects do still look good.  Given the time period it was filmed, it looks fantastic.  There is a nice balance between silly scenes like the stray dogs hanging around his door (because of that smell) and seeing someone get a cleaver in the face.  This isn’t a scary film by any means.  It’s entertaining.  It’s funny enough to keep you sitting through, it has enough deaths to warrant being considered a horror film, and Marcos is a fairly sympathetic character that I can get behind.  Sympathetic character in that I feel so bad for this idiot, and yet I don’t blame him.  Keeping secrets is tough, and if you keep going it just gets worse.  He’s almost like a caged animal banging his head against the wall repeatedly because he’s so panicked he doesn’t even realize he’s only hurting himself.

It’s easy to discount this as just another silly relic of the past.  With an English title that doesn’t deliver – there is not a single Cannibal to be seen – and some light moments, I almost laughed it off as just a great unintentional comedy.  But Marcos’ character gets to me.  In the midst of all the ridiculousness, he is still always serious.  In a way, the viewing experience almost mirrors his situation.  You’re so busy having a good time you don’t realize how sad his predicament truly is – until you really stop to think about it.  This is a bit deeper than it might have even intended to be, but it works.  I just can’t believe it took me this long to discover such a great film.

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About Jori

Being a stubborn girl, Jori insisted on watching scary movies as a little girl and proclaiming "I'm not scared!" from behind her oma's rocking chair. Much sleep was lost in the early years due to paralyzing fear, and her uncle Albert deserves a special mention for unwittingly showing her Monkey Shines. Jori spends her adult life trying to recapture that initial feeling of terror that she experienced as a child. Follow her on Twitter at @fvjori.

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