The 1999 fim Ravenous stars Guy Pierce, Robert Carlyle and was directed, eventually, by Antonia Bird. It is a story of cannibalism, without the usual OTT shots of gore. It does have more than enough gore to satisfy the most vociferous “gore-hound” but it doesn’t meander into “Cannibal Holocaust” territory.
The story focusses around Guy Pierce’s character, Captain John Boyd. Boyd is the lone survivor from his command who is wiped out in a battle with Mexican forces in the Mexican American war. He plays dead as his subordinates and commanding officer are killed and he is “stored” with the dead bodies while their blood drips into his mouth. He crawls out and takes the Mexican command post captive.
He is heralded as a hero, but his commanding officer knows better and ships Boyd off into the middle of nowhere. Once he arrives at the near deserted army post of Fort Spencer, he barely gets settled in before a man stumbles in from the snow (Robert Carlyle) with a story of cannibalism and death.
The fort’s commanding officer Colonel Hart (Jeffrey Jones) decides to mount a rescue operation.
Despite all the production problems that this film suffered, which seemed to come from the film’s producer Laura Ziskin micro-managing the film to near death, it has turned out very well.
The production values are brilliant, the FX pretty much spot on, and the locations beautifully matched to the scenes in the film. In short, the “mild” horror film, boasts a great “twist” on the story of cannibalism with its vague references to the notorious cannibal Alferd Packer and the doomed Donner Party.
With the idea that once human flesh has been tasted, (which per the Windego myth gives you superhuman powers) one can never go back to eating “normal” meat, the film dances macabrely into black comedy territory.
The cast all acquitted themselves very well. Guy Pierce, a local lad from Ely, Cambridgeshire, England has proven yet again what a talented chap he is. Robert Carlyle is an actor that I unashamedly adore. His work never disappoints and I would literally kill to one day get to work with the man, he blows everyone else off the screen each time he comes on. Jeffrey Jones gives his usual brilliant performance and even the tiny part that David Arquette was given did not fail to impress.
For all the problems that the film encountered before a full reel of film was even produced, it has managed to entertain very well. Two directors and constant script reworking added to the micro-management from Ziskin, should have ruined this small film, but it still does a great job of telling its twisted story.
The cinematography is crisp, clear and full of texture. The lighting is adroit and capable. The sound is all encompassing, especially when introducing the sounds of the wooded mountains where a lot of action takes place.
The film can best be described as a “horror/western” and it is one of those little gems that amply satisfies my craving for two of my favourite film genres.
Overall, I give this film a surprised 4.5 out of 5 stars. I will admit to having to restrain myself from giving it a full 5 just for the presence of Carlyle alone. The film is available on UK Netflix at the moment and well worth watching, popcorn bowl in lap.
Surprisingly great film!
- Plunkett and Macleane (1999) Movie Review (theeradicatorreviews.com)
- Priest (myoldaddiction2.wordpress.com)
- Cannibal Holocaust’s Enduring Legacy (iloveterriblemovies.wordpress.com)
- The Green Inferno (fallingfromvertigo.wordpress.com)
- WHO’S FOR DINNER? A Connoisseur’s Guide to Cannibal Cinema (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- The Full Monty (myoldaddiction2.wordpress.com)
- Happy Birthday to Tommy Flanagan (potomacvideocenter.com)
- The Holocaust of All We Believe in (ericvanderford.wordpress.com)
Published in 2008 the long title of the book is: Cannibals True Stories Of The Horrifying Killers Who Feast On Human Flesh. As if the actual short title of cannibals was not descriptive enough.
If you are interested enough you can go to Jimmy’s website http://www.jimmyleeshreeve.com/ where it will tell you that:
“Cult author and slipstream commentator”
“With over thirty years experience of earning a living in the slipstream, Jimmy Lee Shreeve has written half-a-dozen books, run a successful internet-based business, written advertising copy, self-publicized, re-invented and re-launched himself, and generally blagged his way through it all.
He also writes as Doktor Snake and Dr. Hash. His books include How To Be Famous, Hash Brownies, Blood Rites, Cannibals, Doktor Snake’s Voodoo Spellbook, and Human Sacrifice.
Jimmy’s byline and work has appeared in over a thousand newspapers, magazines and online media all over the world…”
The rest of the “about” section also goes on to say he’s been on television and radio.
Shreeve has a writing style slightly reminiscent of John Dunning (not John Dunning the detective novelist) who wrote 12 books on murders across the globe. His style was of a tongue in cheek nature in order to soften the subject matter.
While Mr Shreeve is not so prolific with his writing he does specialize in the more macabre stories out there with titles like Dr Snakes Vodoo Spell Book Vol 1 & 2 and Human Sacrifice. His titles alone evoke a type of tabloid like feeling that is reminiscent of the National Enquirer newspaper which specialized in stories like, “Elvis is alive and living in the back of my car” and “Family watches in horror as rats eat baby.”
To give Shreeve credit, he has done his homework and dug up some pretty gruesome tales that he shares with the curious reader. From Andrei Chikatilov (the butcher of Rostov) and Albert Fish right back to Albert Packer and Sawney Beane, he writes about the well-known and lesser known cannibals who have gotten their 15 minutes of fame (or infamy) for snacking on their fellow-man.
Admittedly, all these stories can be found on the internet and probably any library or book store in the true crime section. But he does cover each case well and give the narrative his own personal touch. He has researched enough that he was able to give background to Armin Weiwes, *If the name doesn’t ring a bell his story might. He got a “willing” volunteer via the internet to drop around so Armin could kill him and eat him.* background that I had certainly never seen before.
As a “True Crime” book, Shreeve doesn’t have the wry touch of Colin Wilson or even Dunning, although as I said before, his writing style is similar. The book is informative (and let’s face it), gory and shocking.
I cannot vouch for the rest of the stories in his book, but in his recounting of the Jeffrey Dahmer he leaves out the fact that local police actually brought one of Dahmer’s intended victims back to him thinking it was a lovers tiff between two gay men. They took the man (who could not speak very good English) to his death.
I don’t know why Shreeve left this bit of “colour” out of the story but it made me wonder what else he had omitted. Still the book is a fairly good account of cannibals and their “motives.” He also purports to have been part of an exorcism that “cured” a cannibal that he had corresponded with over a period of time.
In keeping with that theme he also discusses the issue of demon possession and/or Devil worship playing a part in the cannibalistic acts of these deviant criminals. He also brings a brief history of cannibalism into play and writes about people who have studied it as a cultural background for a lot of modern societies.
Cannibals include a lot of different cases and the thread that Shreeve uses to tie them all together is the premise of demon possession. I’m not sure I buy that but it made for some interesting theories.
I picked this book up mainly out of curiosity. No one has really stepped into the late John Dunning’s shoes, although Colin Wilson does come close (interestingly enough it was the friendship between Wilson and Dunning that caused the later to actually publish his collection of stories) even if he did not focus on the more bizarre crimes that Dunning covered.
I used to have quite a large personal collection of “true crime” books that I kept for research purposes. I still have them but Shreeve’s book will not be one that I’ll be rushing out to buy. It’s a short (at 256 pages) curiosity and doesn’t really include too much in the way of more information.
I would say take a moment to read it if a) you are of strong stomach; and b) your knowledge of cannibal criminals is quite sparse. Otherwise you’d do well to stick to the mainstream non-fiction writers such as Colin Wilson.
- Cannibals (jimmyshreeve.com)
- Human Sacrifice (jimmyshreeve.com)
- Hash Brownies (jimmyshreeve.com)
- Democratic Republic of Congo – Cannibalism in the Modern Age? (disinfo.com)
- Young cannibal kills and eats 11 people to impress his girlfriend (english.pravda.ru)