Over the years, I have viewed (and reviewed) many independent films, and I have to say that few look as cool as Gris Grimly’s CANNIBAL FLESH RIOT! Shot entirely in black and white (on a budget of about six-thousand dollars), this movie has a very polished look that is stylistically similar to what you’d see in a Tim Burton or Robert Wiene film. It’s quite impressive to say the least.
The short opens with baffled police officers trying to figure out why the body of recently deceased millionaire Clarence Heckles, is not in its grave. Clues found around the crime scene fail to shine any light on the mystery, so the officer in charge of the investigation (“The Lieutenant”) orders his men to dig up the grave to see if anything (or anyone) is occupying Heckles’ coffin.
The film then jumps back to the night before, where we meet Stash and Hub, two redneck ghouls who are out on a late night mission to literally dig up some grub. After knocking out the drunken caretaker, the two ghouls roam about the cemetery in search of one particular grave.
Apparently obituaries double as Stash’s menu, and he has his heart set on eating the corpse of Clarence Heckles. Wait, what? If you were going to eat someone, wouldn’t you want someone younger (and fatter) to munch on? Eating an old man is probably the cannibalistic equivalent of chewing on year-old beef jerky! (Yuck!)
The two flesh-eating fiends scour the graveyard until they find their intended meal. However, they get more than they bargain for, as their depraved feeding habits awaken something vengeful and hungry in the cemetery. Soon the eaters of the dead discover that they may very well be next on the menu!
CANNIBAL FLESH RIOT! is a fun indie short that is competently made and showcases a lot of talent in front of, and behind, the camera. Though it starts off slow (especially if you watch the director’s cut, which adds a five minute intro explaining the origin of ghouls), it quickly draws you in once the two quirky lead characters begin to exchange their (often hilarious) cannibalistic banter.
Actors David Backus (Stash) and Dustin Loreque (Hub) deliver their dialogue in an almost business-as-usual manner. Though David tends to chew the scenery a bit, both he and Dustin give good performances and play off each other fairly well. However, out of the two actors, I’d have to say that Dustin was my favorite; his portrayal of Hub is just so damned sincere!
This short is further bolstered by all the great creative decisions made by Gris Grimly. He made this short look like an old film print, complete with scratches and jump cuts. It totally works in the film’s favor, and really helps sell the amazing-looking sets, and stop-motion animation. As an added bonus, CANNIBAL FLESH RIOT’s soundtrack (featuring music by Peter Sandorff and Hola Ghost) is pretty awesome as well!
I think my only real complaint about CANNIBAL FLESH RIOT! is that Stash and Hub’s reckoning is a bit too ambiguous. I assume their fate is a result of their graverobbing and corpse-munching, but who (or what) is responsible? Was it be the vengeful spirit of Clarence Heckles? Or perhaps it was an avenging entity made up of the spirits whose bodies were unceremoniously stolen and devoured? I guess we’ll never know.
It’s a shame that Gris Grimly bumped off Stash and Hub in their film debut, because I think he could have built a series of shorts upon their further exploits. But, if one single half-hour Stash and Hub misadventure is all we ever get, then I suppose I’ll have to be content with that. I enjoyed CANNIBAL FLESH RIOT! quite a bit and I am more than happy to award Gris Grimly’s Horror-Comedy: