‘Cannibal Flesh Riot!” is not your average horror film. By name alone, the film’s moniker implies there will be cannibals, flesh eating, and well…rioting. What you get isn’t exactly what you may go in anticipating. Factor in a small budget (around $6000) and a run time of half an hour and you may be expecting the worst. Fear not- this film is a gem worth its weight in horror gold thanks to its director, Mr.Gris Grimly.
If you are not familiar with Gris Grimly’s work (shame on you), here’s a crash course: Grimly is a talented children’s book artist with a fondness for the macabre. His art has graced twisted tales for children for nearly a decade and in the process he has amassed a loyal and diverse fan base. He has worked with Neil Gaiman. He has illustrated the works of Edgar Allan Poe. He has put his own spin on ‘Pinocchio’(which he is currently turning into a full feature-length movie along side Jim Henson Productions.) The man also loves vinyl. Needless to say, Gris is a busy man (and a multi-tasking motherfucker.) So what do you do after spending years subversively warping the minds of today’s impressionable youth with your own personal brand of weird? Make a movie, that’s what!
‘Cannibal Flesh Riot!’ is not a movie about your “traditional” cannibals (per say.) It’s not about zombies either. It’s about ghouls. If you are unfamiliar with the term “ghoul”, don’t worry- Gris has you covered. Before the movie begins, Gris Grimly himself makes a William Castle-esque appearance to introduce you to the feature presentation and explain the role that ghouls have played throughout history (complete with pointer stick and zany sound effects!)
The movie portion itself opens with a prologue of police officers investigating a crime scene at a local cemetery. A grave has been disturbed, a care-taker is being interviewed, and not all is right in the resting place of the dead. The story then shifts gears and focuses on the tale of two red-neck ghouls by the name of Stash (David Backus) and Hub (Dustin Loreque) and their late-night debauchery the previous evening. The plot follows these two ghouls on a mid-night stroll through the cemetery as they look to feast on the remains of the newly-deceased. But what’s a ghoul to do when they aren’t digging up, fucking, or eating the bodies of the dead? Well, if ‘Cannibal Flesh Riot!’ is any indication, they have conversations (complete with sound effects) about condiments and salad dressing and TV commercials capable of making grown ghouls cry. The dialogue is witty, smart, and biting…a ‘Cannibal Clerks’ if you will and an absolute laugh riot.
Problems arise when it becomes apparent that ghouls can only feast on the dead for so long until the deceased take notice…and want revenge. Stash and Hub eventually find themselves on the receiving end of some well-deserved pay back. The film in general is played more for humor than for gore or scare factor, and you will be left laughing right up until the end when the story rejoins the police investigation in the cemetery.
“Cannibal Flesh Riot!” jumps off the screen in a black and white presentation with a throw back feel to drive-in movies of the sixties. The film has been filtered and processed to give it an aged look with flickering, scratches, and missing frames. In a nod to stop-motion masters Ray Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien, Grimly even experiments with his own brand of stop animation in various scenes throughout the film to great success. An owl turns his head to look at the viewer as a miniature Stash and Hub amble their way down the cemetery’s zig-zagged path. Bats on strings even make an appearance…I’m talking bats on fucking strings here people (hand-made, Gris Grimly-style bats at that!!!) If that doesn’t get you excited for what’s in store here, I don’t know what will. Further genre nods are given to the classic film ‘I Bury The Living’ and the more recent Sam Raimi’s ‘Evil Dead.’ This is a film by a nostalgic horror nerd for nostalgic horror nerds…an EC horror comic that comes to life before your very eyes (and I loved every last minute.)
I would be remiss if I did not mention the fantastic score and music sty-lings that Peter Sarndorff and Jeppe Jessen of the band ‘Hola Ghost’ bring to the film. The psycho-billy sound fits this movie like a glove and I guarantee that after watching “Cannibal Flesh Riot!” the only way to get the theme song out of your head is by a bullet to the temple. Yes, it that fucking catchy and I still find myself singing it days after watching the film. Consider yourself warned!
The DVD comes packaged in a classy digi-pack slip case complete with Gris Grimly artwork, the DVD, a soundtrack CD of music from the film and a copy of ‘The Grimville Times’ (a newspaper highlighting the recent grave-robbings and band “obituaries.”) A fine product to say the least and an example that should make some Hollywood studios stand up and take notice on how to correctly package and release a DVD!
What makes “Cannibal Flesh Riot!” work so well is the artistry Grimly brings to the table. Today’s art in general has become so Photoshopped and digitally-augmented to death (much like what CG has done to Hollywood) that any semblance of an artist’s soul has nearly vanished. In his illustrations, Grimly favors traditional ink and water color over the silicone-valley-slick look of other “contemporary” artists. Likewise, his efforts directing show an appreciation for filmmakers of the past and an affinity towards visually establishing a striking mood and atmosphere through the use of lighting, shadows, and overall fantastic shot compositions. “Cannibal Flesh Riot!” is a fun and twistedly charming film that is sure to wet the appetite of any self-respecting horror ghoul.
Swing over to http://www.madcreator.com/store/ to snag a copy of this fantastic DVD or any of Grimly’s other fine works (may I recommend ‘Ghoultown- Mistress of the Dark Ultra-Single‘ – which we will have a review of up soon…another must buy!) He is currently running a sale from July 1st-August 1st where almost all merchandise is on sale from 30-50% off.) S0 stock the fuck up, Blood Sprayers!
Stay tuned for more on Gris- he’s a personal favorite here at The Blood Sprayer. In addition to the previously mentioned ‘Pinocchio’, he is also working on an illustrated version of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ as well as a new movie entitled ‘Wounded Embark of the Lovesick Mind.’
‘Cannibal Flesh Riot!’ DVD Special Features
Audio commentary with Gris Grimly
Audio commentary with Peter Sarndorff and Jeppe Jessen of the composing band Hola Ghost