Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Film #12: Ravenous (1999)

Crackled intercom voice: “Hello and welcome to Fort Spencer, can I take your order?
Drive-thru customer: "Yeahhhhhhhh, I’ve got a couple orders here. Ummm, I’d like ten deep-fried Kristen fingers with honey mustard, two racks of extra bloody Baby Ben ribs, a basket of your King Crab Fishman’s legs, and the Kardashian rump-roast special. Oh! And I’m on a diet, so on the drink I want half Diet Mountain Dew and half regular Dew. Capiche?”
Intercom voice: “Yes sir. Do you want eyes with that?”

This is probably a common conversation at the Fort Spencer drive-thru, the cannibalistic campsite featured in the late '90s movie “Ravenous.” They pack more people in their stomachs at that place than a 5:05 p.m. Red Line train.

But Soylent Green wasn’t always a main staple at the mid-1800s fort, located in the secluded Western Sierra Nevada Mountains. One winter day the fort’s solider skeleton crew found a bearded, feral man passed out outside their cabins. When they revived the man, named F.W. Colqhoun, he told a horrific story of how his covered wagon company got snow-bound in the mountains on their way to California. Unable to pass the mountains, they camped out inside a nearby cave. After running out of food and animals to eat, the starving pioneers resorted to muching the flesh of their dead. But for some reason the more they ate, the hungrier they got. People weren’t croaking fast enough, so the US Army Colonel leading the expedition decided to start eating the living members of the pitiful party. Colqhoun said he narrowly escaped the jaws of death, leaving behind a lone frightened woman with the rabid Colonel.

A lady is in trouble! With that, the soldiers got all heroic and vowed to return to the cave to rescue the lass before she became lunch-meat. But their Indian fort residents didn't like that plan. Seems ancient legend says that when a man eats another person’s flesh, he consumes both their soul and energy, making them more powerful -- and hungry -- than one could imagine. It's like Lay’s potato chips, you can’t eat just one human, and once you've got that sweet sweet meat on your lips you become RAVENOUS with a serious case of food screams!

Arriving at the cave, the rescue party soon realizes Colqhoun’s story doesn’t quite flesh out – and that’s when the true body buffet begins. Cannibals quickly abound at Fort Spencer, and much like a depressed Biggest Loser contestant with a box of hidden sweets, the more the cannibals eat, the more addicted they become. Will anyone put down their second helping of Fred and stop the insanity in the 1999 film “Ravenous”?

The Low Down:
This movie has guts…a string of them, dangling from its mountain man beard. And frankly, that is why we like it so. A viewer goes into this flick expecting the obvious. A film set in the 1850s mountains with pioneers who turn to cannibalism. Okay, it is going to be your standard Donner party meets Alive fare, right? Wrong. Ravenous veers from everything that is cliché in cannibalism, and focuses on the ideology of man-munching itself. It asks, “Would you consume another person if it would not only save your life, but make you powerful beyond imagination?”

Eating humans is such a taboo, it just makes for a great horror movie. Pair that with an original story, and a cast of familiar faces that can actually act, and you have a meaty movie dinner.
But this meal is far from something you’d find at the Stephen Spielberg Chop House. More fittingly, this should appear on the menu at the William White Castle.

The story and plot itself was like a well cooked steak, charred on the surface by violent flames, but with a nice bloody center. However, the entire movie was so coated in cheese that it made this meal hard to swallow. The musical score was thick as Velveeta, with bango-ey backwoods licks inappropriately scoring what should have been serious scenes. Parts of the dialog were overcooked as well, with death scenes being filled with stupid lines like “what you just did there, that was pretty sneaky.”

Then again, there were some unique bursts of flavor from under the cheese blanket. “Funny thing about escape though, chances are you might end up some place worse” says fort leader Col. Hart, delightfully played by the underrated Jeffrey Jones. Jones actually sprinkles in his unique brand of spice throughout this little known role, playing a cannibalistic Colonel with sensitivity, humor and just a dash of sarcasm. Then there is the whole funny commentary about how Manifest Destiny and cannibalism are similar. Sure, it was kooky, but it was also smart.

Don’t go to McDonalds expecting a steak dinner. And don’t go to a cannibal movie expecting a timeless classic. Ravenous delivers what it promises, a satisfying cinematic meal with just enough bite.

RDHP Ratings:
C-Rating: 3.8
Chris Dimick burps: “Oh, you may think Ravenous is just a story. But cannibals do exist, and I’m married to one. One cold winter day me and the little wife, who was the little girlfriend at the time, decided to visit Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and take in the controversial Body Worlds exhibit. Body Worlds is one of the most insanely creepy, fascinating exhibits in the history of man-- it displays actual human cadavers in various positions and degrees of body deconstruction. All skin has been stripped from the human bodies in order to show how human muscles and organs operate. The exhibit is horrifying, but you can’t seem to look away. It is just something you have never seen before, but yet were so curious about.

We had to buy tickets in advance for this sold out exhibit, and didn’t have time to grab lunch before heading into the death hall. I was hungry walking into the museum, but upon seeing a skinned man literally pulled apart, each body part suspended and free standing by wires hung from the ceiling, my hunger had suddenly packed its bags and headed to Kenya.

I turned to my girlfriend to exclaim how disturbing yet enthralling the exhibit was only to find her intensely starring at one of the cadavers mid-sections. Without blinking an eye, she turned to me and whispered, “This exhibit is making me hungry for ribs.”
Nervously laughing, I responded that this exhibit would probably put me off ribs for awhile too. In a serious voice, my hungry future bride said “No, seriously, this place is making me really hungry. Do you want to get barbeque tonight?”

Now married, I know never to let my wife skip dinner before going to bed. I’d surely wake up – like the poor souls in Ravenous – missing a few fingers, toes and probably even a few ribs. This flick gets a 3.8 just for being so accurate on cannibalism. Once you get a taste, you can't stop!”

N-Rating: 3.3
Nick Rich burps: “They say hunger is the best spice, and if that is true then Ravenous has plenty of flavor to spare! I won’t lie: this movie wasn’t amazing, nevertheless I found myself thoroughly enjoying it for the unexpected journey it led me on. Some parts were a tad predictable, but for a good portion of the film I was blissfully unaware of what was coming next (which to me is invaluable in a film). This film was unique in the fact that it was made in such a way that I wasn’t constantly attempting to figure out where it was going… I was content to just let it live, er, or die as it were.

Sure there was cheese, but it was that cheese that put me at ease and gave me license to simply enjoy the feast that was laid before me. Sure the tone of the film sat uneasy in your gut like a pinky bone that just won’t digest… but once embraced, the oddities of the film became endearing. The scenery was great, the gore surprisingly sufficient and super-sweet facial hair abounded! My own mountain man beard stirred frequently with excitement at the sight of such luscious follicle facial features (i.e. beards)! This movie was a treat to enjoy… so don’t think, just watch.

The Skinny: Watch this flick if you feel like watching the guy from Stargate Universe eat the guy from Lost, a red shirt from TNG Star Trek and Ferris Buller’s nemesis… or if you’re hungry but on a diet (unless you’re Chris’s wife).”

Quote of the Viewing:
[Scene: On their way back to the cave where the mysterious Colqhoun says a woman waits to be rescued from cannibalism, fort preacher Pvt. Toffler falls down a cliff and is cut on his abdomen. That night in the men’s shared tent, Toffler awakes to find Colqhoun licking his bloody stomach.]
Chris: That is not a good way to make friends, Colqhoun.
Nick: Yeah, usually you need an invitation to lick someone.

Things the RDHP Learned from Watching Ravenous:
-Even in the 1800s mountains, David Arquette can still find a way to get stoned
-If you vomit in the Army, you get sent to California
-When in a pinch, belts make a great dinner
-The more flesh you eat, the hungrier you become
-Don’t send a high-on into town to get a winters worth of food supplies
-The only thing better than bloody finger sniffin’, is bloody finger lickin’

People the RDHP Want to Eat:
Mayor McCheese
(Look at all that cheesy goodness. Plus, we are so sick of his preachy anti-late term abortion platform)

Wisconsin Cheeseheads
(They need to be good for something and have been asking to be put out of their misery since Favre left)

(If it’s good enough for Gargamel, it’s good enough for us!)

Jimmy John
(If he is half as tasty as his subs, we are in business. Plus if we eat him, maybe we will inherit the sub chain)

7-UP Cool Spots
(They just look tasty)

Poppin' Fresh
(We just like to stick our fingers in that little bastard)

 Domino’s The Noid
(If anyone were to give us otherworldly power from consumption, it would be him)

Mr. Peanut
(Insert nuts in mouth joke here)

Geico Gecko
(Exotic meat, and we can save big on our meal cost)

Hurley from Lost
(His pores are just oozing with Dharma ranch dressing)

Shirley Temple
(For dessert. She is just so sweet!)

Worst Place To Be Caught Eating A Corpse:
-On the toilet
-At a funeral
-In the Middle East (can you say stoning?!?!)
-Job Interview
- Inauguration as US President
-DMV (just being here is true horror, but throw in a corpse and ohhhh brother!)
-In a zombie movie (because that would mean you are a corpse)

1 comment:

  1. Barbecued humans are divine! This insanely awesome review makes my tum-tum gurgle with delight just thinking about it.