While most Spanish horror movies are fun outings comprised of sex and monsters, Eloy de la Iglesia's CANNIBAL MAN (a misleading title) is a character-driven, psychological horror film that in turn is quite disturbing. Released in the U.S. in 1973 by Hallmark as APARTMENT ON THE 13 FLOOR, and originally titled LA SEMANA DEL ASESINO ("The Week of the Killer"), Blue Underground has re-issued this interesting little film on DVD, as it was first released by Anchor Bay some years ago. The main difference here is a new cover displaying an overly gory image from one of the film's moments of murderous hysteria.
The plot concerns a slaughterhouse employee named Marcos (played by Vicente Parra who was around 40 at the time but actually looks much younger) and his turbulent relationship with his girlfriend (Emma Cohen, star of dozens of Spanish horror films, including some with Naschy and Franco). One night they indulge in some rather tame hanky panky in a cab, only to freak out the stuffy cab driver. An argument ensues, and after threatening to give her "the beating her father never gave her," the cab driver is bashed over the head with a stone by Marcos.
The couple later discovers that the cabby died, and she can't live with what has happened, especially when the two are to be wed. The girlfriend desperately wants to run to the police, but Marcos just won't let that happen, and he strangles her after some passionate lovemaking. Not knowing what to do with the body, Marcos keeps it in his brother's room, keeping the door shut at all times. The problem is that every time someone pays a visit, they suffer the same fate as a murderous domino-effect triggers off.
CANNIBAL MAN is a very tense, claustrophobic thriller that is reminiscent of Roman Polanski's REPULSION, made some years earlier. Most of it takes place in Marcos' ranch house, which is isolated in the middle of nowhere, yet frequently visited by an assortment of characters, all connected in some way. Although the film has some effective violence, it still manages to be quite suggestive (a room full of rotting corpses is often represented simply by the sounds of buzzing flies), with touches of black humor, and also takes time to let Marcos develop a bond with a lonely gay man who lives in a highrise across the way. The viewer is fascinated by Marcos' ordeal, seeing how he conceals his dark secret. He tries to hide the smell of death with ample supplies of perfume and air freshener, while fighting off packs of dogs that come sniffing about the place. I won't tell you how he attempts to dispose of the bodies, but the guy does work in a slaughterhouse!
Blue Underground’s DVD of CANNIBAL MAN has a transfer which is identical to the old Anchor Bay release. The film is properly letterboxed at 1.85:1 and anamorphically enhanced. The transfer is very good, though a bit dark in night scenes. But overall, color saturation is fine, and the source material is in excellent shape, despite some very minor blemishes. The English mono audio is rendered nicely, and there are no other language/subtitles options. The only other extra is Atlas International’s English language trailer. Missing from this disc’s packaging – but included on the old AB disc – is a booklet containing liner notes that focus on the sporadic career of director Eloy de la Iglesia, who made what is probably the only A CLOCKWORK ORANGE rip-off, CLOCKWORK TERROR. (George R. Reis)
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