Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cannibal Flesh Riot! (2007)

Gris Grimly is well-known as an artist of the macabre, lending his creepy creativeness to gothic tales like Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness and Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Death and Dementia, The Dangerous Alphabet, Boris and Bella and many, many more books. His art is striking, immediately recognizable and gruesomely gorgeous for fans with an inkling for the darker side of life.

Now Gris Grimly has taken on another medium – film. His 34 minute short film Cannibal Flesh Riot!, which he wrote, directed and produced, is just as much a fiendish feast for the eyes as his artwork is. Cannibal Flesh Riot! is a love letter from Grimly to old, black and white horror films and will have you falling in love all over again with Grimly.

After a very charming introduction by Gris Grimly himself explaining exactly what “ghouls” are (they are definitely different from your standard zombie or vampire), the film opens with a police investigation of a very unusual illegal exhumation at the local cemetery. The lieutenant (played by fellow amazing artist D.W. Frydendall) is baffled as to why there a fresh corpse exhumed from his grave and left above ground while his final resting place has been filled in with dirt again…just who or WHAT is buried in the dead man’s place?

We then cut back to the previous night, where we meet lanky Stash and hunchbacked Hub. Stash and Hub are centuries-old ghouls who eat the flesh of the dead…but they prefer fresh meat, so they are on the prowl for a freshly interned corpse. As they stalk through the cemetery they discuss important topics such as how to properly season a corpse, the plethora of condiments (relish is “pickle vomit” according to Stash), how to deal with nosy authorities and why humans dress up their food to make it look like people in order to make it appetizing (like the California Raisins or the McDonald’s characters).

As the ghouls start digging up a grave for their dinner, they get a very unexpected and unwelcome surprise…

Cannibal Flesh Riot! evokes the feel of our beloved, black and white B-horror movies. It is filmed in grainy black and white with added scratches and dirt that really adds to the creeptastic atmosphere. There are even moments when stop-motion animation is used and within this film it works extremely well, only adding to the overall, old-school horror feel of Cannibal Flesh Riot!

The look of the film is a mix between Tim Burton visuals and old gothic horror films. Some scenes are even reminiscent of German expressionist films, complete with exaggerated and askew angles. The film also feels like old horror TV shows like The Vampira Show with bats on strings flying across the screen. The cemetery, with its crumbling, crooked headstones is just pure gothic horror goodness!

The story, written by Grimly, is extremely engaging and you get quite connected to the characters of Stash and Hub. It’s towards the end that you remember that these two ghouls are bloodthirsty villains out for dead human flesh! Even then, I was still rooting for them! I loved the witty banter between them and the characters themselves are quirky and endlessly entertaining. Grimly’s story (along with the visuals) just put a big smile on my face throughout the entire film!

David Backus as Stash and Dustin Loreque as Hub are just fantastic as the ghouls. I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the two characters. They both give rabble-rousing performances that really make the film. Without their amazing acting some of the dialogue could have come off sounding too over-the-top and campy, but Backus and Loreque fully immerse themselves in their characters and make their dialogue believable and entertaining!

The special effects used were also pretty cool…the last sequence when Stash and Hub are “surprised” by something is filmed entirely in stop-motion, but it is damn impressive! It reminded me of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion effects on Jason and the Argonauts, especially with a scene involving a skeleton! The stop-motion animation is done extremely well and fits perfectly into the atmosphere of the film.

Also adding to the already spooky atmosphere of the film is the amazing score by Hola Ghost. The slowly-building, ominous score really complements the creeping fog, hooting owls and hanging moss of the cemetery. It adds so much to the film and Hola Ghost should really be commended for crafting such a creeping menace of a score!

I just cannot speak highly enough of Cannibal Flesh Riot! After its success, I sincerely hope Gris Grimly will pursue more film projects (his next film project is entitled Gris Grimly’s Wounded Embark of the Lovesick Mind). I know that I can’t wait to re-watch (and re-watch and re-watch) this film, as well as sharing its genius with my friends.

If you are a horror fan that appreciates the classics, it is almost guaranteed that you will adore Cannibal Flesh Riot! as mush as I did! Cannibal Flesh Riot! is like horror film comfort food…it is familiar, satisfying and you’ll come back to it for seconds (and thirds…and fourths…)!

Just hold the relish, please…

Buy on Amazon!

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