We're on an Italian kick lately, it seems, with new trailers for old school masters (Dario Argento, Giallo) and fledgling new school directors (Federico Zampaglione, Shadow). In the spirit of Italian-American friendship and goodwill, a new "Guide to Italian Cannibal Horror" has popped up at Fearnet. Head on over there to see Alan Spero's picks for the most memorable cannibal flicks, complete with trailers and descriptions. Spoiler alert: it's pretty much all about Umberto Lenzi and his 'rivarlry in depravity' with fellow director Ruggero Deodato, as each raced to create "the most repulsive and sleazy images" possible. Didn't any other Italians make any good cannibal movies?
What, exactly, is the allure of "human on human munching"? American versions have ranged from the friendly family in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre right down to Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal the Cannibal in The Silence of the Lambs, movies in which we know the murderin' sumb****** are truly evil because they're willing and eager to eat human flesh. Just killing somebody isn't enough; it's too commonplace, too ordinary. But chomping on someone's arm or leg -- or internal organs, in the case of Hannibal Lecter -- that's really bada**. Ordinary people might kill someone else in a fit of anger or a moment of madness, but to eat human human flesh breaks too many taboos.
Lenzi and Deodato took that one step further. What could be worse than eating another man? Tearing him apart limb from limb, or making him suffer agonizing pain for hours and days, or ripping apart defenseless animals. Maybe that's why so few filmmakers have dared to tread into cannibal territory. Maybe some things are over the line.