Cannibal Flesh Riot Movie Review
Written by ZigZag
Written and directed by Gris Grimly
2007, 34 minutes, Not rated
David Backhaus as Stash
Dustin Loreque as Hub
D.W. Frydendall as the Lieutenant
Gris Grimly as himself
Stash (David Backhaus) and Hub (Dustin Loreque) are a pair of ghouls in search of a fresh corpse. Stash explains the importance of breakfast and presents his views on condiments as they exhume a body. Hub reveals his haunting fear of condiments (because they can drown food) and ponders the significance of advertisers modeling food products in the form of people (i.e. dancing raisins). The duo is interrupted by a large demon with a ghoulish appetite of its own. The next day, D.W. Fryendall shows up as a police lieutenant — with an anachronistic earring — investigating the vandalized gravesite.
Cannibal Flesh Riot is the debut short film by acclaimed illustrator Gris Grimly. As an artist, Grimly is famous for his contributions to such works as: "The Dangerous Alphabet" (with Neil Gaiman), "Wicked Nursery Rhymes" and "Sipping Spiders Through A Straw." Not surprisingly, the film looks fantastic. Grimly's hands and eyes are all over this project (and a large beating chunk of his heart).
The screener copy I have contains both a festival cut and the director's cut. Both edits are identical, but the latter features an intro of a pipe smoking Grimly, sporting a tweed jacket from a high backed chair, welcoming the audience. He defines the term 'Ghoul' directly: "A legendary evil being that robs graves, and feeds on corpses." This is followed by a brief presentation on the ghoul throughout history. The intro moves nicely with a loving nod to the classic "Masterpiece Theatre." The film itself plays like Edward Gorey by way of Tim Burton, and is a lot of fun.
Grimly keeps things moving at a steady pace, never allowing a joke to go on too long. The screen is loaded with activity within each shot, and the tale builds to a wonderful finale. The editing is equally impressive as Erik Campbell matches Grimly's energy level and the score (by Peter Sandorff and Hola Ghost) plays nicely throughout.
In addition, the film is an absolute feast for the eyes. Brian Davis' black and white photography brilliantly captures the look of the classic monster films of the '30s and '40s. Art Director Crab Scrambly deserves special mention for jamming each frame with production value. Mixing live action with stop-motion animation, CGI, and puppetry, the image is always engaging. Huy Vu's animation is playfully inter-cut within a running scene, just as optical effects are laid over Atom Gray's beautiful set design.
Sadly, while the film moves swiftly, it ultimately comes to a premature conclusion. All of the above mentioned artistry clearly shines, and leaves the audience visually satisfied without complaint. However, the script (also by Grimly) is a bit lacking. The story falls short of a third act despite the conversational asides by the ghouls. The anticlimactic finale arrives with a minor guffaw. There is not really a punchline to the extended setup, and therefore the viewer is left feeling slightly cheated. In addition, the aforementioned police lieutenant seems to be an underdeveloped plot device. The character appears within a set of book ending scenes that, while not feeling tacked on, do not feel like an organic extension to the rest of the film.
Audio, video and special features will not be graded as this is a screener, although the film is presented in two versions: the Festival Edit (29 min) and the Director's Cut (34 min)
New to the Gris Grimly experience, I was treated to a nice overview at http://madcreator.com, and learned that the marketing machine rolls on, and soon Stash and Hub will return in the form of collectable action figures.