Before Trey Parker and Matt Stone found success with TV megahit South Park, they wrote, produced, directed and starred in this comedic musical which tells the tragic events surrounding Alferd Packer. Taking place in 1873, it recounts the trial of Mr. Packer who was accused of murdering and eating parts of five men traveling with him on a journey from Utah to Colorado. This is loosely based on a true story where in real life, Alferd Packer did confess to cannibalism, but not murder, in this film, Alferd maintains his innocence of both charges.
Trey Parker plays Alferd Packer, but is listed in the acting credits as Juan Schwartz. Matt Stone is James Humphrey the obnoxious member of the party going with Packer. Traveling with them is George Noon, played by Dian Bachar who appeared in Parker and Stone’s other two films (BASEketball and Orgazmo,) and lent his voice to a few episodes of South Park. Frank Miller is played by Jason McHugh who just so happens to be the executive producer of Cannibal the Musical.
The songs that make this movie a musical aren’t anything wild or over the top. They’re your standard toe-tappy, happy showtune songs with the final song “Hang the bastard!” being the big dance production. Professional singer Toddy Walters, who has also done voices for South Park, stars as Polly Pry, the newspaper reporter who sings a lovely number halfway through the movie. She easily has the best voice in the entire production.
For a movie named Cannibal, you’d expect some over-the-top violence, and we get it in the first scene. We follow a crazed, murderous Packer as he runs around in the snow killing each of the five men on his expedition. This terrible scene isn’t real but is being described to a jury by the prosecution in Packer’s trial as if it were. Packer is found guilty without much of a defense and sentenced to be “hung until dead.” He is thrown in a jail cell for the last night of his life as Polly Pry shows up and convinces Alferd to give his side of the story.
Alferd (who, in reality, was known for spelling his name both Alfred and Alferd but he is historically referred to as Alferd. It is driving my spell checker insane.) was hired to take five men to the town of Breckenridge, Colorado. One night, his horse disappears and he takes the party far off course looking for her. They become lost, stranded and rapidly running out of supplies. Struggling to keep the fire lit in the middle of a frigid winter night, the hunger is so great, the men cook and eat their shoes. When one of the men gets his leg caught in a bear trap, things go from bad to worse.
Cannibal the Musical, not only makes the second musical I’ve reviewed so far, it is also the first Troma movie I’ve reviewed that wasn’t made by Troma. A large part of their catalog are films made by smaller, and usually defunct independent studios. Troma purchased the rights to them and now Lloyd Kaufman can have his way with them, like putting them on YouTube, and other things best not mentioned.
The production quality was up there with how good the movie looks and sounds. If you like South Park’s darker humor, Cannibal is actually a lot cleaner than that. The jokes were goofy and witty instead of South Park’s over-the-top, sometimes gross-out humor. Cannibal could actually be a family film, as long as the family can stand a bit of dismemberment with their entertainment.
So here it is, take a bite out of Cannibal the Musical!