DirectorEloy de la Iglesia
Release Date(s)1972 (August 24, 2021)
Studio(s)Atlas International Film/Jose Truchado PC (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
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Cannibal Man is the product of Spanish director Eloy de la Iglesia, a troubled filmmaker who worked within the strict Spanish filmmaking system and was forced to find creative ways to explore various themes under the eyes of censors who were very careful about what kind of content the country’s films contained at that time. Although the film became known as Cannibal Man, it has absolutely nothing to do with cannibalism. It features a number of murders, several of them rather disturbing, but it’s a much more interesting film than a simple slasher of sorts. Themes of homosexuality and lower class struggles hang over its narrative, never actually stating things out loud, but easy to pick up on nonetheless. Released under several titles, including La Semana del asesino, Week of the Killer, and The Apartment on the 13th Floor, Cannibal Man is a much more fascinating piece of work than its artwork featuring a meat cleaver in the face of a victim—an event that does happen in the final film—suggests.
Marcos (Vincent Parra) is a relatively poor man, living in a dilapidated house next to a set of high rise apartment buildings. He works at a meat processing and slaughtering plant by day, spending his nights with his younger girlfriend Paula (Emma Cohen). Meanwhile, he’s being watched via binoculars by Nestor (Eusebio Poncela), who has taken an interest in him and wishes to be closer to him. Marcos visits a local cafe where Rosa (Vicky Lagos), an older woman, expresses her feelings towards him and encourages him to get rid of his potential young bride. But the relationship between Marcos and Paula goes sour after he accidentally kills a taxi driver and refuses to go the police. In turn, Marcos kills her to keep things quiet. As Nestor becomes more and more a part of his life, Marcos continues to kill whoever gets close to his secret, including his brother Steve (Charly Bravo) and his brother’s fiance Carmen (Lola Herrera). He maintains a seemingly normal existence by keeping visitors out of his bedroom where the bodies lie, later bringing their chopped up remains to the plant and secretly dumping them into the processor. As paranoia and guilt creep up on him, he begins to wonder what, if anything, Nestor knows about him.
Cannibal Man comes to Blu-ray from Severin Films which includes “both the International and extended Spanish version newly scanned from the original negatives for the first time ever.” It’s worth noting that some scenes in the extended version are in Spanish only. Those additional scenes include a meeting between Marcos and his boss about a promotion, his co-workers suspecting him of stealing meat or tools from the plant, and additional dialogue when Carmen’s father comes looking for her at Marcos’ home. The international version opens with a section of the scenes at the slaughtering plant before the opening credits (which appear to be taken from a theatrical print, and feature the film’s title as The Cannibal Man). Otherwise, both versions are the same, including the murder scenes.
Both versions offer organic presentations with solid levels of detail and terrific saturation, particularly greens, reds, and blues. The interiors of the slaughtering plant, the pool scene, and exteriors of the shops in the city later in the film showcase the strength of the color palette perfectly. Moderate grain resolves well and blacks are deep with good contrast. Leftover damage is limited to occasional instability, lines, and speckling (outside of the aforementioned opening credits of the international version). It’s an otherwise clean and pleasant presentation.
The audio is presented in English or Spanish 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English and English SDH. Neither track is completely flat, but they don’t offer an enormous amount of fidelity either. Dialogue exchanges, regardless of language, are clear and discernible. The English dubbing is appropriate and works well. Sound effects range from dogs barking, a box of matches tumbling around, cars swerving, horns honking, and the many noises and background chatter within the slaughtering plant. The score isn’t all that robust, but it comes through well enough. Both tracks are clean and free of any leftover debris as well.
The following extras are also included, all in HD:
- Cinema at the Margins (26:11)
- The Director and the Cannibal Man (17:54)
- Trailer (3:07)
- Deleted Scenes (1:35)
In Cinema at the Margins, authors Dr. Shelagh Rowan-Legg and Stephen Thrower examine this era of Spanish films, specifically the work of Eloy de la Iglesia. They delve into his career, the difficulties he had making films in Spain, and the content and themes of his films. In The Director and the Cannibal Man (presented in Spanish with English subtitles), author Carlos Aguilar also discusses director Eloy de la Iglesia’s life and career, but also talks about the film at hand a bit more detail than his predecessors. Next is the film’s trailer, which encourages squeamish viewers to close their eyes. The Deleted Scenes are fascinating. Although they’re silent outtakes, they do offer a glimpse of what the film might have been had it been a little more overt instead of thematic. There’s a fleeting moment in black and white with Marcos in the back of a police car in handcuffs (as it is, the film ends with him waiting for the police instead), a brief bit of lovemaking between Marcos and Rosa, and most curious of all, extended scenes of Marcos and Nestor poolside, making love. Since the final film simply implies homosexuality between the two, this is an eyeopener, and shows that the director was at least interested in being more overt. The disc sits inside a black amaray case with reversible artwork featuring the Belgian poster artwork on one side and the UK VHS artwork on the other. Everything is housed within a limited slipcover featuring the same Belgian poster artwork on the front and the Italian poster artwork on the back.
Cannibal Man may have the obvious draw of a Spanish splatter film, but it’s actually a George Romero-esque play on thematics instead of straight exploitation. Severin Films offers Cannibal Man in a fine presentation with a nice selection of extras. Deep-seated genre fans will definitely want to pick this one up.
- Tim Salmons