Cannibal! The Musical (Alferd Packer: The Musical) Reviews
Released under the Troma Entertainment label, Cannibal! The Musical is not one of the more exploitation pieces from the studio. It still has moments of blood and gore, but they are predominantly in the brief intro scene where they are played for effective black comedy value before the film develops into a lighthearted musical. It still has some random moments spread out sporadically over the film, but Cannibal! The Musical is certainly one of the more lighthearted films from Troma. But keeping with the label, the production values are schlocky. But as a film put together by University students out for a cheap laugh, Cannibal! The Musical maintains many signs of the charm that would later skyrocket the careers of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The shoddy production values and cheap acting area ll a key comic virtue for Cannibal! The Musical because director Trey Parker just sits back and embraces it. He knows his limitations as director and he just runs with them which really reflects his later work. In comparison to the big budget nature of films like BASEketball and Team America: World Police, Cannibal! The Musical is a cheap film which doesn't give Trey Parker or Matt Stone maximum room to breath. It doesn't compare to their finest works, but it is not meant to be judged alongside them because this is their independent low budget feature, and it's an unconventional musical about cannibalism. It's hardly as edgy or satirical as South Park, but it does have a strong use of immature humour and dialogic quips as well as the occasional visual gag.
The thing which is entertaining about Cannibal! The Musical is largely just to look back at it and see where the creators of South Park began, as well as to look at how far you can stretch a low budget. Cannibal! The Musical is proud to be a Troma feature. The narrative in it is thin which is to be expected, and the slow pace means that there is a general feeling that there is energy lacking in the film. It is really just an effective step forward for Trey Parker because the low budget nature of the film limits what he can do with it, and yet he finds ways to make the slow story interesting and funny while intentionally schlocky. When I say that, I still enjoyed the stylish nature of Cannibal! The Musical because the scenery and production design was nice for such a low-budget film, and given the correct capabilities it could have felt more legitimate. Even then, there is a sense of historical accuracy in the film which is funny enough. Pretty much everything about Cannibal! The Musical is funny on the surface, and when it comes to the execution of it all things may be rather slow and not always funny, but as an exercise in filmmaking it is admirable.
The writing cleverly uses Alferd Packer's horse Leanne as a metaphor for Trey Parker's negative experiences with his promiscuous wife. If viewers are unaware of this before seeing Cannibal! The Musical then the humour just seems to be Trey Parker's odd style, but understanding the allegory makes it all the more funny. The use of Leanne the Horse as an allegory is a brilliant humourous asset and an emotional exploration for Trey Parker himself through a means of comedy which reflects the satirical edge which is iconic of essentially every comedy piece he has done to date. The entire film is just about Trey Parker getting over his promiscuous ex-girlfriend in the form of a musical about a convicted cannibal. On the surface, that sounds hilarious. The knowledge of this allegory really makes Cannibal! The Musical that much greater as a film, but even then it is still a strange comedy which begs for a cult audience. Thanks to Trey Parker's later success, it is safe to say that it has found one.
But as well as the script, the humour in Cannibal! The Musical comes from the way that it uses its score as a musical and some visual gags. The latter are spread out, but they are fairly funny when they appear, and the musical nature of the film just makes it all the more iconic. The most memorable song is "Shpadoinkle Day" which stuck with me for weeks after viewing the film. As well as being a fine comedy, Cannibal! The Musical is actively a strong musical. I generally am not a fan of that genre, so that's saying a lot about Cannibal! The Musical.
And as well as writing and directing with passion, Trey Parker gives it his all as the lead actor. In the role of Alferd Packer, Trey Parker manages to sing his heart out and deliver the laughs. He puts a lot of effort into the film and does not do any less when it comes to acting. His performance is funny without him having to force it, and even though it is only a half assed effort he really manages to make himself likable and has viewers seeing Alferd Packer in a more sympathetic light during the scenes which demand him to be more dramatic. He makes a strong effort as Alferd Packer.
Matt Stone really adds comedic value to the story by portraying a character who seems largely bent on being a stereotypical idiot in so many ways, and Dian Bachar is a good touch because he manages to capture a melodramatic edge to his character while also providing some laughter.
So Cannibal! The Musical is slow and not as energetic as you might think considering its low budget and the amateur nature of the production, but it is a film bound for a cult audience as it serves as the spawn of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's long careers in the form of a catchy and funny musical.
Wow....I guess we all have to start somewhere. Trey Parker's very own movie / musical that has small glimpses of what South Park became and even smaller glimpses of The Book Of Mormon as well, you can totally see how all this stuff eventually lead to bigger and more refined things.
Alfred Packer played by Trey Parker is the hero for this musical which is like a spoof of Oklahoma, except the songs are not as good and the quality is obviously not as polished.....but again....its worth to see it if you are a South Park fan cause you literally can hear Cartman in some parts of the movie.....and other voices that are now part of the South Park cast.
Also...the movie has Asian native Americans....probably the funniest part of the whole movie.
Does it make it a horror movie....well....that depends.
If you like gore....it has a great opening sequence and there are some scenes where there is glorious horrific gory stuff.
If you hate musicals....this movie will terrify the living daylights out of you.
Hard to fully recommend this one....if you are a fan of Trey Parker's work...sure....its worth seeing it once, but as a horror movie....well...again...that depends lol.
Probably funnier if you are tripping on acid and wasted on moonshine.
The biggest reason this is so successful is obvious: it is hilarious. Full of off the wall goofy humor that is surprisingly intelligent and clever. This would become their trademark in later years. The characters, songs and overall story are great. Some really quotable dialogue and memorable scenes that really elevate the initially ludicrous concept of a musical comedy about the Donner party. What is even sillier though are the completely random moments that are never expounded upon or explained. It as if the absurdity is not even noticed by the characters, making the world they live in seem even more strange.
The filmmaking itself is amateurish as to be expected. Very shoddy camera work, sound editing and just about everything else. Fortunately, this totally works in making the film even further removed from reality, as well as giving it an aged feel that lends itself to this type of narrative. The hammy and awkward acting sells this aspect very well also. This is really a microcosm of Parker and Stone's entire careers as their biggest strength is to take advantage of absurd and low quality media.
This is a one of a kind movie, and certainly a one of a kind musical. It is great in its own right as well as being a perfect precursor to Parker and Stone's future endeavors. Its star may even be shining a little brighter now that they appear to be on the downslide. Their earlier works have always been their best, and this is a terrific example.