Cannibal – the game (Deodato 2020)

You may remember the seminal cannibalism movie Cannibal Holocaust which I reviewed last year:

https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/07/21/cannibal-holocaust-deodato/

Well, yes, now there is going to be a game based on it, written by the Director, Ruggero Deodato. Set in Borneo, the Cannibal video game will allow players to take on the role of a variety of different characters. We don’t know who those characters will be yet, but more information will follow.

Based on the artwork, it seems as though Cannibal will attempt to replicate the found footage style of the movie, which is something that’s been done in games like Outlast and Resident Evil 7. With one of the innovators of the found footage genre at the helm, though, it will be interesting to see if Cannibal will be able to take this style of horror game to the next level.

Cannibal will launch in November for iOS, Android, PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.

 

“The most violent film ever made” – CANNIBAL FEROX (Lenzi, 1981)

The US distributor of this film (where it was renamed Make Them Die Slowly) made the claim that it was the most violent film ever made, and had been banned in 31 countries.

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Both claims are highly dubious, but it is certainly one of the nastiest of the so-called “cannibal boom” movies that came out of Italy in the 1970s and 1980s. These films depicted a savage world in which the primitive natives were merciless cannibals, while the white victims were mostly corrupt and exploitative thugs, who invariably brought on the savagery by their own greed and violence (this one involves eye-gouging and penisectomies as well as brain and intestine munching). They deserved to be killed and eaten, especially since they were aware that all primitive people are cannibals. This from the civilisation that brought you Christopher Columbus, who coined the term “cannibal” and demonised the diverse nations of a whole continent.

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Lenzi’s film was made a year after the most famous of the Italian cannibal slashers, Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust. Although Cannibal Ferox seemed to be a rip-off of Deodato’s magnum opus, let us not forget that Lenzi started the boom back in 1971 with Man From Deep River. That in turn was lifted from the Mondo films like Mondo Cane, films which showed the disturbing violence within nature and primitive societies, and pointed out that such dark forces still swirled within the well-dressed breasts of modern, cosmopolitan Europeans.

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Look, I’ve been kinda avoiding reviewing this one, not because I  thought you couldn’t handle it (you are reading a cannibal blog fergoodnessake!) but more because I was wondering if I could. More gratuitously violent than Cannibal Holocaust, the scenes of torture are really all that this one is remembered for (certainly not for the plot or acting). Make up artist Gianetto de Rossi created the realistic special-effects, most infamously remembered for the scene where a woman is hoisted in the air by hooks through her breasts. De Rossi had previously worked on Emanuelle in America and Zombie II, the latter becoming famous as the goriest movie ever made.

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There’s a convoluted plot that you can follow on Wikipedia if you want, or even watch the movie if you must. It involves drugs, the Mafia, cannibals growing drugs for the Mafia, and cannibals eating greedy and vicious, or stupid and naïve, white people. The interesting part of the plot, from a Cannibal Studies point of view, is that the stupid, innocent Westerners who find themselves being caught up in all this (and tortured and eaten) are there on a fool’s errand – one of them, Gloria, is writing a thesis that is going to prove that cannibalism doesn’t exist and never existed. Her thesis is entitled “Cannibalism: End of the Myth”. [Holy excreted humanflesh; that’s kinda what I’m doing!] Radical as this thought is, it had actually been presented in an academic form by William Arens two years before this movie, in his book The Man-Eating Myth: Anthropology and Anthropophagy. Don’t you love coincidences like that? Wanton violence, abusive sex, torture, cannibalism and academic dishonesty – an honest portrait of the PhD process. Then there’s the invariable PhD curse – half way through your research, someone sits down with a bowl of intestines and screws up everything you’ve written.

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Cannibal Boom movies cannot be accused of involving any sort of academic rigour, concentrating instead on slaughter, torture, exploitative female nudity (and more torture) and cannibalism, as well as the totally gratuitous filming of real animal abuse. Italian cannibal directors love to put real footage into their stories of fake violence. Look, they say, a real animal suffered and died, so now you’ll accept that the actors were also killed. Actually, that sort of worked for Deodato, who was almost tried for murder,until he was able to get his Cannibal Holocaust actors to appear in court, to prove they were still alive.

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The German version was called “Revenge of the Cannibals”

Cannibal Ferox is torture-porn – it didn’t invent the genre, but it took it to new levels and laid the foundations for some of the grindhouse horror that was to follow. For example, the scene of a skull being opened and the brains eaten from it had already appeared in Deranged (Gillen & Ormsby) in 1974, and was perfected in Hannibal (Ridley Scott, 2001).

Cannibal Ferox managed to scrape together a 40% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, from only five critics, one of whom summed up that “it both feeds and condemns our desire for the taboo sensations promised by its title”.

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

If you can’t be bothered watching the whole thing but would enjoy some highlights, this video review by “The Horror Geek” is hilarious!

“Cannibal Ferox” means fierce cannibals. In the US, it was renamed “Make Them Die Slowly”, and in Australia “Woman from Deep River”. Not sure if that reveals some sort of cultural distinction right there.

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“… if you ate the brain right out of his skull” – HANNIBAL 3:09 ” (…And the Woman Clothed with the Sun)

We’ve met the Red Dragon, AKA “The Tooth Fairy”, AKA Francis Dolarhyde. We’ve seen what he does.

Will Graham has been reluctantly dragged back into the team, trying to find this new serial killer. But where’s Hannibal, and why hasn’t anyone been eaten for a while? This is a cannibal blog, after all. Well, cannibalism is about incorporation of the bodies of others, and this episode is about the way people incorporate into families, friendships or alliances. This episode is also very much a reimagining of the book that started all this, Red Dragon, and its sequels, The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Much of the dialogue comes straight out of the Hannibal canon.

Three years after his arrest, Hannibal is locked up in a glass cage in the Baltimore Asylum for the Criminally Insane.  Will has come to see him, to ask for help catching the “Tooth Fairy” killer; he says he wants Hannibal’s ideas on how he picks his victims. But Hannibal sees right through that, and reminds Will of his earlier prognosis that they are just alike. All of us have the elements to make mercy, or murder.

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“Came to get the old scent again. Why don’t you just smell yourself?”

Alana is his jailer. She has the keys. Remember that Hannibal has promised to kill her, and he always keeps his promises.

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But he agrees to help Will. Because they are family, even after Hannibal killed their “child”, Abigail, and cut Will open.

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Families do terrible things sometimes, but “we still help our families when we can”. Yep, it’s all about families, and how we need them, to remain sane, to torture us, or to escape reality.

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In the age of coronavirus, we are all learning the need for connection, and the pain of not being able to access it. Hannibal has a flash back to Abigail, when she asked if he was going to kill her, and now he grants us some more detail of how he faked her death, by transfusing her blood and spraying it around the room, then cutting off her ear.

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Will’s superpower, of course, is imagining himself in the shoes of the killer, seeing himself committing the murder. Hannibal is happy to talk him through this.

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“Could you see yourself in their eyes Will? Killing them all?”

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None of the families in Hannibal are terribly functional. Think of the Vergers. Think of Hannibal eating his sister! Think of Will, now with a wife and step-son, and still vainly trying to deny his love for Hannibal. Think of Alana and Margo, who have now given birth to a son, the heir to the Verger fortune, whose conception resulted from an electric shock they delivered to Mason Verger’s prostate before they killed him. Think of Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley from True Blood), who thinks she has found ‘Mr Right’ in Francis Dolarhyde, because he doesn’t pity her blindness, and she doesn’t judge his appearance (being blind helps there).

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Think of Abigail’s dad killing (and respectfully eating) girls who looked like her, so he could control his desire to kill her. Hannibal has dug him up and preserved the body, so she can make peace with his corpse, using a sharp knife to pay back the unkindest cut he performed on her. Somewhat similar to the scene where Hannibal digs up Clarice’s dad in Hannibal (the book).

“We have a basic affinity for our family. We can detect each other from smell alone.”

Think of the murdered victim families, sleeping in their beds when Francis Dolarhyde killed them, broke all the mirrors in the house and stuck pieces in their eyes so they could be his audience as he raped the mother. Think of Will, coming apart as he tries to re-enact the murders. Just like Hannibal’s teacup, he will not come back together so easily.

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Think of Francis as we see a flashback to him as a boy, at a table of old people with his abusive grandmother. Cuts to him now, watching movie of dead families. Think of Jack, whose wife Bella, has died; now his family is the FBI, who doubted him when he was ready to catch Hannibal. Consider Jack’s dialogue with Hannibal as he visits to discuss his use, his consumption really, of Will, in his plans to find the killer.

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Who is eating whom here? Hannibal is sad that Will is cold and unforgiving, but he is also angry that Jack is cynically using Will as bait for the killer, who they know has seen Will in Freddie’s scandal-sheet.

“It would be more honest if you ate his brain right out of his skull.”

 

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Hannibal remembers getting ready for his new family, Will and Abigail, who hunted with her father, and now agreed to hunt with Hannibal. We find out why she defenestrated Alana.

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Even Francis Dolarhyde, the serial killer that the press is calling “The Tooth Fairy”, is looking for a family to understand him and help him grow. He calls Hannibal.

“The important thing is what I am becoming. I knew you alone would understand this.”

“What are you becoming?” asks Hannibal.

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Yes, in some very twisted ways, we are all looking for family.

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Would you like virus with that? EBOLA SYNDROME (伊波拉病毒) (Herman Yau, 1996)

Director Herman Yau has made a bit of a career from telling stories of “innocent cannibalism”, in which diners in restaurants unknowingly eat human flesh. His 1993 film The Untold Story was based on the “Eight Immortals Restaurant murders” of a family of ten, which took place in August 1985 in Macau. Portions of the bodies were never found, leading to speculation – yeah, you got it.

Following Gordon Gecko’s statement that “greed is good!” in Wall Street (1987), the 1990s saw a spate of films about entrepreneurs selling human flesh for fun and profit. Beside The Untold Story, Untold Story II and Ebola Syndrome from Hong Kong, we saw Delicatessen from France, Aranyak from India, The Deathmaker from Germany, Perdita Durango from Mexico, while the Americans contributed Ice Cream Man and Fried Green Tomatoes.

You see what I’m up against, trying to update you on all these masterpieces?

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This film gets even weirder, because there is also a pandemic involved – Ebola, the so-called “flesh-eating” disease. Ebola never really got the public going like COVID-19, maybe because it only affected people in places like the Congo and so did not keep the rest of us awake at night. Also, it spreads much more slowly but, if you do get it, you have a 50-90% chance of dying, and it isn’t “just” pneumonia – it is haemorrhagic, meaning that you can bleed out “through your wazoo”, as they say in Last Man on Earth.

“People with Ebola first have symptoms of influenza, but within 72 hours after infection, the virus will dissolve the internal organs”

Ah Kai (Anthony Wong) is an escaped criminal from Hong Kong who bolts to South Africa after killing his former boss, his boss’s wife and another employee. Here is an image showing Hong Kong industrial relations in action.

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In South Africa, he works at a Chinese restaurant and one day travels with his boss to a Zulu tribe that is infected with the Ebola virus [NOTE: there is no record of Ebola among the Zulu]. He comes across a woman dying of the disease, and decides to rape her – he’s that sort of guy.

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He is immune to the effects of the virus, so becomes a living carrier, spreading the disease to others through his bodily fluids. He kills his new boss and his boss’s wife and cousin (seems to be becoming a habit), but he has already given the virus to them, so when he cuts up their corpses and serves them as hamburgers in the restaurant, he spreads the virus all over South Africa.

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He heads back to Hong Kong with the boss’ cash and moves into a fancy hotel, where he proceeds to spreads the virus to the prostitutes he hires, and everyone else he encounters – dramatic music accompanying each new infection.

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Cannibalism as a carrier for pandemics seems apposite right now. Cannibalism and incest, Freud said, were the two great taboos of civilisation, but their prohibitions also define civilisation, so it is not unreasonable to expect at least one of them to pop up in a civilisation-wide disaster. COVID-19 hasn’t been spread by cannibalism yet, or incest (as far as we know) but this movie looks at more than just crime and disease as social disrupters. Ah Kai is aggressive and violent to anyone whom he believes bullies him, usually the rich people who take advantage of his fugitive status. In South Africa (not a place known for Ebola), he is subject to casual racism from the whites, including prostitutes who refuse him their services. The whites, he complains, treat him like a black, and the blacks treat him like a white. He and his victims are dehumanised, which is a precondition for cannibalism – humans are animalised, animals are objectified and become meat.

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Chinese restaurants, where he works, use a lot of pork, and several scenes problematise the close proximity of pigs to humans in the way they look and, according to some informants, the way they taste. The Ebola is caught at a Zulu camp where multiple people are dying from it; Kai and his boss are there because the racist white butcher is charging too much for pigs.

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When they go to pick up their purchases, Kai uncovers human bodies instead, before he finds the pig corpses.

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Is there really such a difference between corpses? More than 75% of emerging diseases originate in other animals. COVID-19 is said to have originated at a fish market, where close contact between humans and live animals in a small space made it easy for the virus to jump species. Other coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), not to mention bird flu and swine flu, all spread due to the human appetite for flesh.

We used to assume that exotic diseases came from wilderness areas where they had been hosted in exotic animals, which then, like the dying Zulu, were used and abused by humans. But a lot of current research seems to indicate that it is actually our destruction of habitat and biodiversity that causes the spread of diseases like Ebola and COVID-19.

“We invade tropical forests and other wild landscapes, which harbor so many species of animals and plants — and within those creatures, so many unknown viruses. We cut the trees; we kill the animals or cage them and send them to markets. We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts. When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it.”

David Quammen in the New York Times January 28, 2020

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Really?

Dread Central summed up the movie:

“The horrid acting and paper thin story are forgivable only for the hilarity with which it’s presented.”

That’s a bit harsh! Chinese movies are not as a rule exemplars of subtlety, but Anthony Wong as the virus super-spreader gives it all he’s got, and a bit more too. It’s a rollicking yarn, and it asks some serious questions too. I was surprised to find I quite enjoyed it.

The full movie can be watched at:

Batman and the cannibal: BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT (2008)

Batman: Gotham Knight (バットマン ゴッサムナイト, Battoman Gossamu Naito) is a 2008 anthology animated superhero film consisting of six shorts, supposedly set between the films Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008) although the narrative connection is tenuous.

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So, of course it has a cannibal in it! Killer Croc, who has been a Batman villain since the 1980s, although getting a grenade down his throat in this episode might, you would think, slow him down a bit. But no, he was back in the computer-animated TV series Beware the Batman in 2013-14. In that one, he bites Batman and boasts that he tastes like chicken. Perhaps a subtle insult rather than a gastronomic judgement. Anyway, that was a prequel, so let’s not give up on grenades just yet.

Batman is looking for a large, scaly monster. He finds some homeless dudes in the “ghost stations” under Gotham and asks them if they’ve seen the monster. In one of the great lines of all Batman stories, they answer:

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Ain’t it the truth.

Killer Croc’s real name is Waylon Jones, and he is a cannibalistic serial killer. The urban legend goes that he was an infant born with the disfiguring skin disorder epidermolytic hyperkeratosis and that his mother abandoned him in the sewers of Gotham City.

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Probably having scaly skin and looking like a croc didn’t do much for his self-image either. As an adult, he files his front teeth into points to complement the reptilian appearance of his skin and became a circus sideshow performer. Later, he changed his name to Killer Croc and went on a killing spree that eventually landed him in Arkham Asylum. There, his homicidal impulses intensified during “fear aversion therapy”. Croc escaped from Arkham and fled to the sewers with a handful of escaped Arkham inmates. There, he had fear toxin injected into parts of his body. When Scarecrow orchestrates the kidnapping of Cardinal O’Fallon, Croc infiltrates the church and carries him down into the sewers. Batman comes to investigate, but Croc ambushes him, biting and infecting Batman with the fear toxin that is coursing through Croc’s own body.

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Well, of course Batman works through pain, as he tells the cops. But why did the underground monsters kidnap the cardinal?

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Yeah, they’re mighty cranky with that Cardinal.

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Batman: Gotham Knight is the first animated Batman film to be rated PG-13.

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“I’m not insane” HANNIBAL S03E08: “The Great Red Dragon”

Aficionados of Hannibal will remember that the good Doctor Lecter was introduced to the world in the book Red Dragon in 1981. That book became the first Hannibal movie Manhunter in 1986 with Brian Cox as Hannibal, and was then remade under its original title with Anthony Hopkins in 2002, years after he had made Hannibal (in)famous in The Silence of the Lambs. A lot of the characters, plots and dialogues of Red Dragon were used by Bryan Fuller in making the television series Hannibal, but the main plot, Will Graham trying to track down the serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, only comes to the television screen in this, the eighth episode of the final season. The rest is all prequel.

We’re not going to get an origin story for Hannibal here, except – he ate his sister, but he didn’t kill her. That’s all we get, and it’s all we need. We get one right at the start of this episode, though, for Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage, who also played Thorin Oakenshield, the Dwarf Prince in The Hobbit). Dolarhyde is slightly disfigured – a cleft palate that has been repaired but is still visible, and gives him problems with his speech, and a major case of social anxiety. He sits alone, OK, he’s a loner (sometimes called “rugged individual”), and he reads Time Magazine, OK, he’s a loser. No wait – there’s an article on the cover about William Blake and his extraordinary 1805-10 watercolours of the “Great Red Dragon”. He heads off to his gym to work on some already pretty beefy musculature. He gets a huge tattoo of the Dragon. He gets some dentures made, snaggly-toothed ones. It’s a cannibal show – so people are going to get bitten. He’s going to become that Dragon, or more accurately, the Dragon is going to become him. On the full moon, he sacrifices to the Dragon, by murdering “perfect” American families. As Frederick Chilton puts it in a visit to Hannibal:

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The press call him the “Tooth Fairy” because he likes to bite his victims.  We see him dripping blood into the snow. It’s all super-gothic.

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Three years after his surrender, Hannibal is locked in an asylum – at least, his body is, but his mind wanders freely through his memory palace – we see him in church listening to a young boy singing Hallelujah, while in fact he is being processed and incarcerated. Then he’s talking to Alana, in his office, drinking Montrachet, but really he’s in his painfully white cell in the asylum, and she is his jailer. He has been spared the death sentence everyone expected after his trial for the murder of a dozen people.

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Hannibal and Alana were friends, lovers at one point. He asks her if she still prefers beer to wine.

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Hannibal is the trickster. Not what, “who” he corrects her. She had people in her beer.

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Will doesn’t want anything to do with the FBI or, apparently, Hannibal; he is living a peaceful life with Molly and Walter (her son).

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But Jack Crawford comes looking for him. No one can profile serial killers like Will. Will he go with Jack? He reads a letter from Hannibal, with a cutting about the Tooth Fairy, warning him that Jack will come knocking, and cautioning him not to accept.

“We have all found new lives. But our old lives hover in the shadows. Soon enough Jack will come knocking. I would encourage you as a friend not to step back through the door that he holds open.”

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Will goes though, and visits the crime scenes, where he recreates the crime in his mind, with the swinging pendula, just the way he did in the first season, that we all miss so much.

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Will figures that he (as serial killer) would take his gloves off to touch his victims. The team is thus able to get a partial thumb-print from the victim’s eyeball. And then there’s a piece of cheese that he bit. And the victim that he bit. They have his (or his denture’s) toothprints.vlcsnap-00066.jpg

Dolarhyde is assailed by roars and high pitched tones as he tries to watch his home movies of his murders. Where are they coming from? Ah yes, the false teeth. Dolarhyde is being taken over by the Dragon, becoming the Dragon. He is, to his own tortured psyche, becoming more than human, an Übermensch like Hannibal. He will need to absorb the essence of Hannibal to become the superman. Will has to do the same to identify and stop him.

There’s only one way to get into the mind of a biter.

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Walt Disney: eating children: ROBOT CHICKEN S1E2 “Nutcracker Suite”

Robot Chicken is a stop-motion television series which started in 2005 on Adult Swim, the “adult” channel of Cartoon Network. It is created and produced by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich along with co-head writers Douglas Goldstein and Tom Root.

The show takes a sometimes sardonic look at popular culture. This episode, the second ever shown (and it’s now in its tenth season!) took on the rumour circulating on social media that Walt Disney’s head had been frozen after his death in 1966, in the hope that he could be revived later (there is a huge industry of cryogenics).

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It’s not true, just BTW.

In this reimagining of the Disney legend, Walt is not the lovable avuncular figure that (older) readers may remember from black and white TV. The episode starts by rehashing the old story about his antisemitism, then we see his head being cut off with a chainsaw for freezing. Under the Matterhorn, later, his head is thawed out and grafted onto a steel spider frame, reminiscent of War of the Worlds. He has death rays in his eyes, and he HUNGERS!

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He’s in this cannibal blog because he’s, well, become a cannibal, eating children to keep his monstrous form alive. They are brought to him by his minions.

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“Bring in the first human child!”

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He builds a theme park in Florida, so that he can access lots of children, and keep his appetite satiated. But then, “one fateful day”, he sees on television the story of Elián González, the little Cuban boy was was involved in a huge custody battle which became an international incident between the US and Cuba.

He hungers for Elián and decides to invade Cuba. As he begins his attack on Cuba, the Cuban standing at the monitor can be heard yelling the same Spanish phrases as the popular cartoon character Speedy Gonzales.

Disney causes havoc, knocking planes out of the sky à la King Kong. Poor Elián appears on the shore, offering to sacrifice himself to save his beloved Cubans, but then Fidel arrives!

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Look, it’s a satire on American imperialism of course, but it has a lot to say about the cannibalistic nature of capitalist consumerism and the voracious appetite of corporates who look to eat up the culture and the cash of their target audience. Imperialism is not just via planes and tanks and giant spiders with frozen heads on top. Cuba has been embargoed from receiving the benefits of American culture for decades, and some of them seem to like it just fine that way.

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