DVD Review: Kannibal

KANNIBAL
METROPOLIS INTERNATIONAL PICTURES, 2001: KABOOM ENTERTAINMENT/CAJUN PICTURES, 2002
4:3 WITH SLIGHT LETTERBOXING, 76 MIN., ENGLISH WITH SPANISH SUBTITLES
SUMMARY | THE POLISHED TURD ONLY EXISTS TO EAT…MONEY.

I know how anemic UR has been since the redesign earlier this year.  Well, that’s because I haven’t had any inspiration or reason to write an article for UR.  Well, that was the case until I came across what MJSimpson.co.uk called “very possibly the worst British horror film ever made.”  That’s a strong condemnation, but after seeing Kannibal, he may not be wrong.

I’m quite well aware that there may be worse filmmakers than Richard Driscoll (not the vicar from EastEnders, mind) out there.  Bill Rebane films are damn near unwatchable.  Andy Milligan already ravaged Britain with his period pieces.  In fact, Driscoll’s oeuvre only extends to a few films, most notably 1985’s The Comic.  None of that matters, of course – if this film is any indication of how bad Driscoll is as a filmmaker, he could yet become one of the infamous names of terrible cult cinema.

Kannibal is about Gideon Quinn’s quest to avenge the deaths of his wife and unborn child by tracking down the Thereshkova crime family and assassinating them one by one.  Georgina Thereshkova leads the crime family after the “death” of her mother Valentina by Quinn.  (Note: Valentina Thereshkova eventually turns out not to be dead, but “mutilated” – teeth are growing out of her bottom lip, such is the quality of the makeup on display in Kannibal.  Like hell this is a spoiler.)  The Thereshkovas are involved in prostitution rings, drug smuggling and pornography, the softcore porn being thrown into the film pretty much constantly.  There’s, like, lesbians kissing and everything!

Gideon Quinn, of course, is a master of disguise.  He also has a taste for fava beans and a nice Chianti.  Get where this is going yet?  That’s right, Richard Driscoll has taken what he likes about Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter series and Ridley Scott’s Hannibal, bunging said elements onto film.  That’d be ignorable if Kannibal wasn’t so poorly made and haphazardly assembled as to be an insult to cult filmdom.  I’m honestly not overreacting – the acting reaches Andy Milligan Players levels of inanity.  For those not familiar with Andy Milligan’s work…well, think of the worst aspects of community/dinner theater and magnify them by a factor of two or three.  That’s Andy Milligan, and by proxy Kannibal.

Andy Milligan, of course, never had a budget of more than $10,000 with which to shoot a film.  Driscoll’s film, by comparison, is extremely well-shot.  Technically, Kannibal is well-done and expensive-looking for an independent film.  It’s just that the scenery is lush and Peter Thornton’s cinematography fabulous at the expense of everything else.  The dialogue is pitiful, the “tits” haphazardly bared, the gore often incredibly unrealistic-looking and the whole enterprise just cynically assembled from start to finish.  Kannibal looks expensive, and it’s obvious most of the money was spent on location shooting and post-processing.  It’s bad filmmaking and I don’t like it.

I’m not going to dwell on what MJSimpson.co.uk has already said about the film.  Lucien Morgan’s turn as Inspector Lewis Reid is, quite frankly, mind-boggling in Morgan’s uncanny ability to accent exactly the wrong words in a sentence.  Linnea Quigley’s character comes across more like a generic Nazi dominatrix and less like an actual Russian.  I could go on about how bad the acting is across the board, but Vass Anderson’s role as the head of Thereshkova’s American operations seems to be the best of the lot.  Vass Anderson is given a few minutes of screen time.  Morgan and Quigley are given whole soliloquies in which to ham-fistedly deliver their lines.  Amazing.

As for Driscoll’s acting…well, he really isn’t acting.  In fact, he seems to be imitating Anthony Hopkins, but his acting’s the least of the film’s problems.  The man wrote, directed, produced and starred in Kannibal.  That would be acceptable if Driscoll knew what the hell he was doing in any capacity.  In the making-of bonus feature included on this DVD (which is the height of ego), Driscoll compares Kannibal to an “opera version of Tosca.”  Driscoll comes across as a British Joe Eszterhas, except Joe Eszterhas is self-aware and revels in the fact that he writes sleazy films.  Driscoll makes exploitation films and thinks they’re art because the mise en scène is pretty.

Speaking of Joe Eszterhas, there’s a chapter in Kannibal that comes across as a full-blown ripoff of Basic Instinct.  Seriously, Kannibal‘s seventeenth chapter is titled “Basic Instincts.”  It’s a distillation of Kannibal itself – hell, here’s an MP3 of the most odious part of the chapter.  Inspector Reid comes across as the world’s worst interrogator.  During his spiel (in which Lucien Morgan’s enunciation is worse than Linnea Quigley‘s, AND LUCIEN MORGAN’S PLAYING A BRIT), he allows Georgina Thereshkova to answer his questions with what amounts to a “I don’t know, you?”  Every single time.  The overacting is so obvious as to be damn near oblique.  The conversation sounds like Morgan and Quigley are graduates of the Steve Roman School of Acting.  HEY YOU, HAVE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU E-EVER BEEN INVOLVED – INVOLVED IN DRUGS?  Then the lawyer comes in and says “AH HA!  I THOUGHT SO!  YOU AND MY WIFE, FOOOOLING AROUND!

Yes, I’m going on a tangent and referencing SCTV.  That last paragraph is still more entertaining than anything I saw in Kannibal.

The soundtrack has not been noted thus far in the…well, one review of Kannibal that I’ve read.  Patrick Bird and Jon Klein’s original compisitions sound like they were performed by some cut-rate pitchshifter clone.  If it turns out Bird and Klein performed the songs themselves, I’ll be amazed.  Either way, the compositions are terrible industrial metal with “fuck God” lyrics or decent ambient pieces, depending on the scene.  Why the hell Richard Driscoll hired two producers most well-known for mastering a Joy Division concert album to compose music for Kannibal, I don’t know, but it isn’t a good idea.  The original compositions and the classical music pieces used to fill out the soundtrack sometimes overwhelm the dialogue, which is a problem usually occurring in high school videos done on a basic editing studio.  Kannibal‘s a lavish production, so why is it full of problems like this?  Did anyone care about making a good film, or was Kannibal just a paycheque for the people involved in making it?  My money’s leaning towards the latter.

Overall, is Kannibal the worst film ever made?  That’s doubtful.  Does Kannibal deserve the level of lambasting that it’s received?  Of course it does.  Kannibal is indicative of the worst sort of independent film there is.  Sure, there are hundreds of independent films ripping off a style, director and/or another film, but the worst one can say about those films is that they’re derivative.  Kannibal‘s trying to be a literal copy of Hannibal, which makes the film redundant by its very existence.  If not for the all-around incompetence on display here, Kannibal might have been ignorable.  With Richard Driscoll at the helm, Kannibal approaches legend.  The man truly is as shit as others say he is.

kaBOOM! Entertainment
Cajun Pictures

Cameron Archer

Owner/Writer at Gloryosky
Cameron Archer runs this site, and is a freelance arts writer. He has contributed to Canadian Screenwriter since 2011. He is a CMG Freelance member.
Cameron Archer