Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cannibal Man (1972)

Far from the gut-munching bit of sleaze promised by the title, Eloy de la Iglesia's atmospheric horror flick is a slow-moving but well-made depiction of one man's mental breakdown. Vicente Parra plays Marcos, a slaughterhouse worker who goes from accidental killings to straight-up murder and psychosis in the span of roughly a week, and his expressive eyes and body language get across the helplessness of the character and his squirmy, almost apologetic descent into madness even underneath the de-riguer crap dubbing. De la Iglesia's directorial eye, though quite lovely at times, is detached and unsparing, with a more muted palette than many other European exploitation films of the period; interestingly, this makes the explosive crimson splashes all the more shocking (the butcher's knife gag is especially effective). The screenplay, unfortunately, has a number of imperfections, notably a weak thud of an ending and a severely underdeveloped thematic strand holding up Marcos's actions as symptomatic of the decrepit final days of Spanish Fascism. Also, anyone expecting flesh-eating as per the title is in for a disappointment -- the only on-screen acting of person consumption is inadvertent. Still, this is pretty engaging. I'd like to see some other films from Eloy.

Grade: B-


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