Cannibal! The Musical (Alferd Packer: The Musical) Reviews
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.
The gore effects were a valiant effort but were inconsistent, and also added little to the story. When the gore effects were more realistic, it gave the feel of some sort of double-bluff fake snuff film like "Cannibal Holocaust" which would have been brilliant, except it wears off quickly when you see some of the other scenes with painfully fake rubber bodies being ripped apart with cartoonish ease. I got the distinct sense that Parker and Stone couldn't decide what they actually wanted this movie to be when it reveals itself, and what begins as a tight narrative ends in a clumsy ending.
Of the ending I would say that it was unclear if they were going for genre-savvy or genre-naive, but the presentation looks more like the latter. They seem to just throw up their hands and give up with a very un-imaginitive Western gallows rescue scene. I feel no compunction whatsoever in spoiling the ending because there is nothing about it you haven't seen before.
The songs were probably the best thing about the movie, although Trey Parker's voice has all the subtlety of a cheese grater. He can hit the notes, but he hits them like a semi truck hitting a cloud of gnats with a cutting, nasal tenor.
The humor was usually cheesy and cloddish, though there were a few clever jokes here and there that got a laugh out of me. On the whole I watched this film pretty well straight-faced.
There you have it. A few catchy songs, a few fairly good gore effects mixed in with some dreadful ones, and a handful of moments that were sort of funny. That's all there is to see here.