Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ravenous: An Underrated Classic

Here's the plot summary from

Captain John Boyd receives a promotion after defeating the enemy command in a battle of the Mexican-American War, but because the general realizes it was an act of cowardice that got him there, he is given a backhanded promotion to Fort Spencer, where he is third in command. The others at the fort are two Indians, George and his sister, Martha, who came with the place, Chaplain Toffler, Reich, the soldier; Cleaves, a drugged-up cook; and Knox, who is frequently drunk. When a Scottish stranger named Colqhoun appears and recovers from frostbite almost instantly after being bathed, he tells a story about his party leader, Ives, eating members of the party to survive. As part of their duty, they must go up to the cave where this occurred to see if any have survived. Only Martha, Knox, and Cleaves stay behind. George warns that since Colqhoun admits to eating human flesh, he must be a Wendigo, a ravenous cannibalistic creature.

This film is one of my all-time favorites. Everything about this quirky little movie is perfect. The acting by everyone, especially Guy Pearce as our tortured hero and Robert Carlyle as our delightful cannibal, is superb. The group of ragtag misfits is completely believable and awkwardly endearing. The script is darkly comic, but holds up as a horror movie with suspense and a dash of gore. The soundtrack is innovative and unconventional. It's minimalistic with repeated musical ideas that build on one another. It creates tension in suspenseful moments very effectively. In a climactic chase scene, the music may seem inappropriate, but not if the focus is on the gleeful predator instead of the fearful prey.

When the film came out in 1999, it didn't do very well because of horrible marketing. I remember the first time I watched it with my sister, I was 14 and I felt slightly sick and uncomfortable. After a few more viewings, the movie became one of my favorites because of the mixture of humor and horror and the fact that after multiple viewings, I still find things I didn't notice before. This film was a big influence in my continued love of the horror genre and possibly the precursor for my love of zombies. This is definitely one of the best cannibal movies you will ever see.


vvb32 reads said...

Interesting new word of the day - Wendigo!
Check out L.H. Parker's Travails of a Budding Author.
She offers up the word - Vulkodlak!
Yes, the marketing on Ravenous was poor because it's a new one to me. I liked Guy in Memento and this premise sounds intriguing. must watch. hmmm, the closest to a cannibal film I've seen was Alive! starring Ethan Hawke.
It was based on a true story where an Uruguayan rugby team is stranded in the snow in the Andes due to a plane crash. It's one to watch if you haven't already. Although it is not really in horror genre. Just has the cannibal issue.

titania86 said...

I saw Alive a long time ago. I suspect it was the first cannibal movie I had seen. I think I should watch it again. I'm always on the lookout for good cannibal movies! :)

Misty said...

David Arquette?

titania86 said...

Hey! You get to watch him die, so it's not all bad. :)