Cannibal Girls

Cannibal Girls (1973)
Shout! Factory
Cast: Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Ronald Ulrich
Extras: Featurettes, Trailers, TV Spots

Here is a fun game. The next time your friends head over, give them a choice. Ask if they would rather watch a movie directed by Ivan Reitman which stars Eugene Levy or 'Cannibal Girls'. Pairing Ivan Reitman of 'Ghostbusters' and 'My Super Ex-Girlfriend' fame with Eugene Levy ('Best in Show' and 'The Man') could be comedic gold or garbage – depending on how much you have had to drink. Either way, their collaboration should be good for a couple of laughs. On the other end of the spectrum, a movie called 'Cannibal Girls' brings the likes of Herschell Gordon Lewis to mind. The title implies a sort of crazy exploitation flick the seventies are known for. Only the hardcore movie freaks will realize that these options both lead to the same movie.

Clifford (Eugene Levy) and Gloria (Andrea Martin) are lost and their car is on its last leg. They decide to stop in a small town to have their vehicle repaired and stay in a motel. While there, they hear an urban legend about a trio of girls who lure men into their home only to eat them. The meat supposedly keeps the girls young and beautiful. Curiosity gets the best of Clifford and Gloria. They decide to have a meal in the infamous house turned restaurant and are greeted by the Reverend Alex St. John (Ronald Ulrich). He wines and dines the couple, keeping their minds at ease and setting them up for horror. Anthea (Randall Carpenter), Clarissa (Bonnie Neilson), and Leona (Mira Pawluk) are more than just the Reverend's assistants – they are the cornerstone of the cannibalistic tale.

'Cannibal Girls' is one of Reitman's earliest flicks starring two leads now known for their comedy more than anything else. The highlights should have been Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin. Undoubtedly the most successful of all cast members, these two found themselves overshadowed by Ronald Ulrich. He has a calm demeanor similar to Tom Noonan's Mr. Ulman in 'The House of The Devil', but Ulrich adds a grindhouse twist of humor. Dressed like Coffin Joe, he is the perfect ringleader to the trio of 'Cannibal Girls' and had the audience laughing numerous times with his devious smile, intense stare and seemingly well mannered conversations. As the trailer promotes, the three girls are indeed young, beautiful and very….very sexy, but do little to stand out during the film. 'Cannibal Girls' is similar to 'Motel Hell', but not as memorable.

There are two versions of 'Cannibal Girls'. One version has a 'warning bell' and one version does not. The 'warning bell' alerts viewers to upcoming gore. If the bell rings (more like honks), the squeamish need to cover their eyes or brace for blood. I chose to watch the film without a warning bell. There were certainly some bloody scenes and a fair share of nudity, but nothing that I would think merits a warning bell. I'm glad the novelty is optional, as the warning would have gotten a bit old.

'Cannibal Girls' looks excellent. For a film that is close to forty years old, Shout! Factory did a stellar job presenting viewers with a very clean 2:35.1 anamorphic transfer. There may be some grain throughout the film along with specs and scratches from time to time, but 'Cannibal Girls' has never looked this good. The colors are vivid and flesh tones are fairly accurate. Considering the roots of the film, I'd say 'Cannibal Girls' has been restored very well.

Both audio options have a solid Dolby Digital Mono track backing the film up. Dialogue is well balanced, only suffering a bit during a few of the violent scenes. The music certainly takes priority during the kills. A 5.1 upgrade would have felt forced. I appreciate the purist presentation.

Shout! Factory has graced us with some solid extra features for the DVD. 'Cannibal Boys' is a modern day sit down with Director Ivan Reitman and Writer Daniel Goldberg that runs just under twenty-seven minutes. The laid back conversation has cuts of the film edited in with war stories from the two crew members. The two recollect their debut with lots of laughs and a fondness for the experience of making 'Cannibal Girls'. The conversation feels like the men are sitting in a bar trading stories. There are a lot of laughs and while the men admit their film is less than stellar, they have an obvious fondness for 'Cannibal Girls' and the cast involved. 'Meat Eugene' pretty much sums up Eugene Levy's odd sense of humor. In this twenty minute conversation with Levy, Richard Crouse finds the star in a meat market and gathers his thoughts on 'Cannibal Girls'. The two discuss a variety of topics such as Levy's resemblance to Gene Shalit, the amazing acting skills of Ronald Ulrich, and how Levy's youthful optimism and inexperience somehow helped him in his role as Clifford Sturges. The disc is rounded out by the theatrical trailer, a TV spot, and a couple of radio spots.

Andrea Martin more than made up for 'Cannibal Girls' by following it with Bob Clark's excellent 'Black Christmas'. Eugene Levy and Ivan Reitman pretty much dove head first into comedy and never looked back. 'Cannibal Girls' is the type of film that needs a six pack of beer and a few friends to find its way into your good graces. Ronald Ulrich steals every scene he is in. It is a shame that this was his final movie. Shout! Factory has done an outstanding job restoring the audio and video. It is difficult to recommend 'Cannibal Girls' to 'horror' fans, it is worth a rental at the very least.