“The fans never went away” – HANNIBAL: A DELICIOUS REUNION

Nerdist’s Rosie Knight hosted the much-awaited (ZOOM) reunion of the cast and crew of Hannibal (the link is above – starts at about 4½ minutes in), featuring series creator Bryan Fuller, Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal Lecter), Hugh Dancy (Will Graham), Gillian Anderson (Bedelia Du Maurier), Caroline Dhavernas (Alana Bloom), Katie Isabelle (Margot Verger), Raúl Esparza (Frederick Chilton), Hettiene Park (Beverly Katz), Kacey Rohl (Abigail Hobbs), Scott Thompson (Jimmy Price), Aaron Abrams (Brian Zeller), executive producer Martha De Laurentiis, co-producer Loretta Ramos, director/executive producer David Slade, and food consultant Janice Poon.

I intended to dip in and out looking for highlights, but of course ended up watching the whole fascinating one hour three minutes of it. Certainly, it is worth watching the whole thing, but (from a cannibal studies POV) don’t miss the Q&A  in the last 15 minutes, when Fannibal @hannigram_trash asks

“How do you think Hannigram / Hannibal and Will would have spent their quarantine time? And it must have been a very hard time for cannibals, because – no hunting?

Hugh Dancy (Will) replies:

“It’s easy, isn’t it? You know where everybody is – they’re at home. Baking! The oven is already on!”

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Then of course come the torrent of questions – will there be romance between Hannibal and Will in Season 4? @Bryanfuller says:

“From our very first meeting with Mads, he redefined the character immediately for me because he’s the devil. He is this thing both of the world and outside of the world. So for me, the devil is pansexual.”

So really, if/when Season 4 starts – anything could happen. And probably will. But give the devil his due. In Christian texts, Satan is usually a fallen angel, the enemy of heaven, intent on snaring humans into sin and taking their souls. By the time of Revelations, he is called The Great Red Dragon, the name used by the serial killer who dominates Season 3. As a New Testament Satan, the Great Red Dragon is obviously interested in absorbing the Old Testament Satan, represented by Hannibal.

The Old Testament Satan appears very sparsely, and is subservient to God. He is probably the serpent who tempts Eve (Alana? Will?), and he appears under the name Satan (הַשָּׂטָן – the accuser) in the Book of Job. What is an “accuser”? Basically, he is God’s district attorney, looking for evidence against humanity, and not usually having too much trouble finding it. Like Hannibal, and later Will, he sets up obstacles or temptations for everyone he meets, and is curious to see what will happen. In the apocryphal Book of Jubilees, God grants the satan (referred to as Mastema) authority over a group of fallen angels, or their offspring, to tempt humans to sin. Isn’t that the story of Hannibal and his patients, who he assiduously tries to convert to his ways? Consider his words in Ko No Mono:

“I have not been bothered by any considerations of deity, other than to recognise how my own modest actions pale beside those of god…. God is beyond measure in wanton malice. And matchless in his irony.”


The final question of the reunion, the one we are all waiting for, was: will we get a Season 4 of Hannibal? Bryan Fuller replied

I am very hopeful.

So are we, Bryan. So are we.

Hugh Dancy adds that, after five years on the lam,

It’ll be like “Grumpy Old Men”, with cannibalism.

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  • A complete listing of my Hannibal blogs can be accessed here.

Communists and cannibals: MR JONES (Agnieszka Holland, 2019)

In 1932, Joseph Stalin engineered a famine in The Ukraine, which killed millions of people. Historians still argue whether the famine, called in Ukrainian the Holodomor (Голодомор) or “death by hunger”, was a deliberate act of genocide, a way to counter the independence movement, or a part of the Soviet collectivisation strategy. Probably all of the above. The peasants were forced to give all their grain, including seed for the following year, to gangs from Stalin’s Komsomol youth groups. In 1928, the USSR was exporting 100,000 metric tons of grain; by 1931 it was over 5,000,000 metric tons. There was literally nothing left for the peasants to eat, and one commentator has written that cannibalism was more widespread at this time and place than anywhere else in history. More than 2,500 people were convicted of cannibalism and sentenced to ten years in the Gulag or execution, but this must have been just the tip of the iceberg.

Into this maelstrom comes a mild-mannered reporter named Gareth Jones (James Norton), who had gained some international recognition by interviewing Adolf Hitler soon after he took power in Germany. Jones wants to interview Joseph Stalin as well, to ask about the enormous sums of money the Soviets are spending on modernisation, in the middle of the Depression – where’s the money coming from?

Jones speaks Russian: his mother had worked in Hughesovka, renamed Stalino, now called Donetsk. He rings his friend, the journalist who got him the Hitler gig and is now in Moscow. The friend tells him he is  is working on a huge story. The friend is soon found dead, and Jones discovers the story was : The Ukraine.

Jones escapes his minders and travels to The Ukraine to see for himself the horrors unfolding there.

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He is made to carry sacks of grain that are being shipped out, past the starving locals.

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He is almost shot as a spy, kids sing him a sweet song about being cold and hungry, then steal his food.

 

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“Nothing to eat, nowhere to sleep.

And our neighbour has lost his mind, and eaten his children.”

Like the peasants, Jones eats bark from the trees. He finds a barn that was in a picture his mother gave him, meets three young children there and helps them carry firewood home. They make him a meal, with real meat.

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Who is Kolya? Kolya is their brother. Jones asks if Kolya is a hunter. They just look at him. Where is Kolya?

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Yes, Kolya is involuntarily providing for his family. Jones, who has walked past corpses in the streets and taken photos of starving children, is now violently ill at the thought he has partaken of Kolya. Go figure. Incidentally, Jones’ relatives have attacked the film’s depiction, saying that he did not witness or take part in cannibalism.

Jones returns home and tells his story, but the Russians deny the existence of a famine, and are backed up by their apologists. Western intellectuals such as George Bernard Shaw and Upton Sinclair travelled to the Soviet Union, swallowed the propaganda, and returned home to praise Stalin and Soviet progress. One such convert is shown in the film: Walter Duranty (played by Peter Sarsgaard) who was the pulitzer prize-winning New York Times resident journalist. Duranty threw depraved parties in Moscow while writing that all was well in the workers’ paradise.

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Yes, Duranty actually said that, in the New York Times of March 31, 1933.

Others were less sanguine, and early reports of the famine had been written anonymously by Malcolm Muggeridge. The film starts with George Orwell (Joseph Mawle from Game of Thrones) penning his famous novel Animal Farm, in which he called the farmer, his chief antagonist, “Mr Jones”, perhaps in tribute to Gareth Jones. Orwell appears throughout the film, at first supporting Stalin, and later accepting Jones’ story and, disillusioned, writing Animal Farm.

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The Holodomor is a very important part of cannibal mythology. For example, Russian cannibal serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, the “Rostov Ripper“, was a small child during the Holodomor and his mother told him that cannibals had kidnapped and eaten his brother, and would do the same to him if he didn’t behave, a traumatic story that helped explain his slaughter and cannibalisation of at least 52 women and children between 1978 and 1990.

The film has a creditable 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Director, Poland’s Agnieszka Holland, was arrested by the Soviets, during the Prague Spring. She knows the way political leaders eat their own people. Whether Jones ate Kolya or not, he certainly witnessed one of the worst famines in history, deliberately engineered by the government. The starving ate anything they could find – grass, hay, bark from trees, corpses dug up from cemeteries, even their own children.

The question is: who were the monsters?

 

HANNIBAL: a complete listing of my Hannibal film and TV blogs

Movies

“Manhunter” (Mann, 1986)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/07/29/hannibal-the-cannibal/

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“The silence of the lambs” (Demme, 1991)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/03/04/1991-the-silence-of-the-lambs/

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“Hannibal” (Scott, 2001)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/03/17/hannibal-scott-2001/

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“Red Dragon” (Ratner, 2002)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/09/09/what-a-dragon-it-is-getting-old-red-dragon-ratner-2002/

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“Hannibal Rising” (Webber, 2007)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/09/22/hannibal-rising-2007/

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And a spoof, just for fun:

“The Silence of the Trumps” (Colbert Late Show, 2017)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/05/10/the-silence-of-the-trump/

Television

Season 1

  1. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/10/07/very-hard-to-catch-hannibal-episode-1-aperitif-fuller-2013/
  2. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/10/21/amusing-the-mouth-hannibal-season-1-episode-2-fuller-2013/
  3. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/11/04/hiding-the-bodies-hannibal-season-1-episode-3-potage-fuller-2013/
  4. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/11/11/happy-families-hannibal-season-1-episode-4-oeuf-fuller-2013/
  5. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/11/25/inside-the-shell-hannibal-season-1-episode-5-coquilles-fuller-2013/
  6. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/12/09/who-is-the-ripper-hannibal-season-1-episode-6-fuller-2013/
  7. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/12/16/nothing-here-is-vegetarian-hannibal-season-1-episode-7-fuller-2013/
  8. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/12/30/i-see-a-possibility-of-friendship-hannibal-season-1-episode-8-fuller-2013/
  9. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/01/06/i-know-what-monsters-are-hannibal-season-1-episode-9-fuller-2013/
  10. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/01/20/the-very-air-has-screams-hannibal-season-1-episode-10-fuller-2013/
  11. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/01/27/madness-can-be-a-medicine-hannibal-season-1-episode-11-fuller-2013/
  12. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/02/10/im-so-sorry-jack-releves-hannibal-season-1-episode-12-fuller-2013/
  13. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/02/24/savoureux-hannibal-season-1-episode-13/

Season 2

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  1. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/03/31/i-never-feel-guilty-kaiseki-hannibal-season-2-episode-1-fuller-2014/
  2. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/04/07/you-are-dangerous-sakizuke-hannibal-season-2-episode-2-fuller-2014/
  3. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/04/21/merely-the-ink-from-which-flows-my-poem-hannibal-season-2-episode-3-hassun-fuller-2014/
  4. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/05/05/death-is-not-a-defeat-hannibal-season-2-episode-4-takiawase-fuller-2014/
  5. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/05/19/he-is-the-devil-he-is-smoke-hannibal-season-2-episode-05-mukozuke-fuller-2014/
  6. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/06/02/an-act-of-dominance-hannibal-season-2-episode-6-futamono-fuller-2014/
  7. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/06/16/hannibal-season-2-episode-7-fuller-2014/
  8. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/06/30/we-are-all-nietzschean-fish/
  9. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/07/14/typhoid-and-swans/
  10. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/07/28/hannibal-season-2-episode-10/
  11. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/08/11/hannibal-season-2-episode-11/
  12. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/08/25/hannibal-season-2-episode-12/
  13. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/09/08/hannibal-season-2-finale/

Season 3

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  1. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/10/13/the-eating-of-the-heart/
  2. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/11/03/hannibal-season-3-episode-2/
  3. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/11/24/how-did-your-sister-taste/
  4. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/12/15/hannibal-season-3-episode-4/
  5. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/01/05/in-the-belly-of-the-beast-hannibal-season-3-episode-5-contorno/
  6. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/01/26/hannibal-season-3-episode-6/
  7. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/02/16/hannibal-season-3-episode-7/
  8. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/03/08/im-not-insane-hannibal-s03e08-the-great-red-dragon/
  9. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/03/29/hannibal-309/
  10. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/04/19/murder-and-cannibalism-are-morally-acceptable-hannibal-310/
  11. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/05/17/hannibal-3-11/
  12. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/06/07/hannibal-312/
  13. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/07/05/hannibal-s3e13/

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“Meat’s back on the menu”: HANNIBAL S3E13: “The Wrath of the Lamb”

The grand finale of Hannibal.

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Finales have an obligation to tie up loose ends, answer questions, bury the bodies. It’s the showdown, the shootout, the denouement. But they don’t have to spell it all out too clearly, particularly for the more discerning audience who watch artistic masterpieces like Hannibal. Hannibal Lecter always leaves us thinking.

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Yes, Dr Lecter, we will think about you. What you have to teach us about lots of things, not just about cuisine.

In the first episode of Season 1, the serial killer and cannibal Garrett Jacob Hobbs kills his wife and slits his daughter’s throat because Hannibal has warned him that the FBI “knows” about him. Will shoots him several times, but as he dies, or even as he lies there dead, he smiles at Will at asks:

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Each episode of this extraordinary show has had a theme that can be teased out – some more obvious than others. The theme of this one is multifaceted; it is about life, death, growth, conspiracy and betrayal. The plot is convoluted: the serial killer Francis Dolarhyde has faked his death but has revealed that he wants to meet, greet and eat Hannibal. Hannibal is locked up in The Baltimore Asylum for the Criminally Insane because of his own cannibalistic serial killing events. You will perhaps remember Hannibal gave himself up at the end of episode 7, so that Will would always know where he is. That, my friends, is love, Hannibal-style. But he is not enjoying the rigors of asylum living:

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The FBI wants them both dead, and conspire to “fake” Hannibal`s escape to lure the Dragon.

Will doubts that he will survive this conspiracy and betrayal

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Everyone else is terrified of Hannibal really escaping and coming for them. Hannibal`s former psychiatrist and, well, housemate, Bedelia, is convinced this is a terrible idea. She quotes Goethe’s Faust, a work much loved by Hannibal as well:

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Will has no sympathy. He knows Hannibal will also come for Bedelia if (when) he escapes, because she is on his menu.

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Alana knows Hannibal is going to kill her, because he has promised to do so, and reaffirms that promise:

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Will knows The Dragon will free Hannibal, and then try to kill him, change him, absorb him, as cannibals are so often accused of doing to their victims. We absorb the nutrition of our food, why should cannibals not absorb the strength, spirit and experiences of their victims? And Hannibal is willing to play along, as long as Will asks nicely:

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The climax is at Hannibal`s house overlooking the “roiling Atlantic”, where the Dragon takes on Hannibal and Will takes on the Dragon. Who has conspired with whom, and who is being betrayed?

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Will replies:

“If you’re partial to beef products, it is inconvenient to be compassionate towards a cow”.

The battle is epic, brutal and bloody, and we expect no less. Will learns his lesson at last, that blood really does look black in the moonlight, as Hannibal told him in episode 9. That life and death are not opposite or even separate but part of the “becoming”. That his extreme empathy and Hannibal’s cruelty are one and the same.

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That murder and mercy, as Thomas Harris told us at the end of Red Dragon, are just human constructions, and mean nothing to nature, “the Green Machine”, which is indifferent to who lives and dies, and to conceptions of right and wrong. When we inevitably die, someone will eat us, and nature cares not a whit the species of the eater or eaten. Natural selection means that the Dragon, with the gun and the knife, will kill and absorb Hannibal. The Green Machine doesn’t care. This is what Hobbs was trying to tell Will in the first episode, and what Hannibal has shown him, 38 episodes later.

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But then, there’s love and compassion, the emotion that makes a rat fight a snake to protect her young. Will and Hannibal – together at last, covered in blood, cut to ribbons, but feeling the love.

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Is Hannibal dead?

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The Death of Sherlock Holmes | Conan Doyle Info

Remember how Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty fell to their deaths into the Reichenbach Falls in 1891, causing a massive public outcry among their avid fans, only to see Sherlock reappear in 1894, explaining that he had faked his death to fool his enemies? Well, Bryan Fuller has given us a pretty great clue, as in the final scene we see Bedelia sitting at a table with three settings, about to enjoy a sumptuously prepared meal, the centrepiece being her leg, roasted to perfection.

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Who’s doing the cooking?

We hope, we conspire, we betray, we demand Season 4. Remember that this whole story, the three seasons, has been a prequel to the book and film that made Hannibal famous, The Silence of the Lambs. There is plenty of material in there with which to continue the story, or reimagine it as Fuller does so very well, perhaps, as he suggested, with “Margot Verger taking down the meat industry as a hot, powerful lesbian” and turning them over to PETA.

Hugh Dancy, when asked about another season, suggested it might take five years. Well guess what, Season 3 finished in 2015…

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Next week I’ll publish, for ease of reference, a complete listing of my Hannibal blogs.

Cannibalism as a delineator of civilisation

My paper in Exchanges: The Interdisciplinary Research Journal has just been published.

A ‘horrid way of feeding’: Pervasive, aggressive, repulsive cannibalism

Abstract

Cannibalism both fascinates and repels. The concept of the cannibal has changed and evolved, from the semi- or in-human anthropophagi of Classical texts to the ‘savage’ cannibals of colonial times, whose alleged aberrations served as a justification for invasion, conversion and extermination, to the contemporary cannibal driven often by psychosexual drives. Cannibal texts typically present the act as pervasive, aggressive and repulsive. If these parameters are admitted, alleged cannibals immediately fall outside normative European humanist morality. This paper examines cannibalism as a major delineator of the civilised human. Cannibals offer social scientists a handy milestone to confirm the constant improvement and progress of humanity. The idea that colonised peoples were not savage, degenerate cannibals threatens the concept of the ‘Great Chain of Being’, which was assumed to show an inexorable progress from plants to animals to humans, and upward toward the divine, led by enlightened Western civilisation. But cannibal mythology, factual or imaginary, offers an opportunity to re-evaluate the assumptions of human supremacism and see ourselves as edible, natural beings.

The full paper is at:

https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/article/view/456

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The Boy – The Road

 

 

Pregnant and hungry: INSEMINOID (HORROR PLANET), Norman J. Warren, 1981

We’ve looked at some great cannibal movies in this blog, and we’ve also checked out some duds. Inseminoid (called Horror Planet in the US) unfortunately falls pretty much into the latter category, proving that cannibalism alone is not sufficient to make a great film. But hey, it raises some interesting philosophical and psychological questions. Not including “who thought this was a good idea?” and “who wrote dialogue like this?”

Holly: Get your ass up here on the double!
Gary: I know what I’d like to do with her arse.

There’s a group of English and American archaeologists and scientists excavating an ancient tomb on a seemingly uninhabited planet. Uninhabited, but not uninhibited. A couple of them find some glowing rocks, there’s an explosion, then the rocks come to life when Mark (Robin Clarke) and Sandy (Judy Geeson from To Sir With Love) make out in the room where the rocks are kept.

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How many horror stories start with illicit sex and end up with what looks a lot like religious retribution? Think of the Scream movies – sex happens, then slashers.

After much fighting in dim lights and dark caves, Sandy is captured and raped by perhaps the least scary monsters since the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

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Immediately two months pregnant (we know because she vomits in a bin), she starts killing her colleagues and eating their flesh.

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Also blowing up what appear to be their pinball machines.

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Like vampires when transformed, Sandy has become immensely strong, but can be brought down by, yep, a punch in her pregnant stomach. One critic summed up:

“…in what has to be a new low, even for extraterrestrial-horror films, all the men end up punching this pregnant woman in the stomach.”

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Besides some wooden acting and clunky lines, the film also suffered from being released not long after Ridley Scott’s brilliant movie Alien, which also showed an alien rape and birth, although that movie had the novelty value of having a man going through a very traumatic labour (yes, if men had to give birth…). Inseminoid was immediately criticised as a knock off of Alien, which the director denied, although there were plenty of other knock-offs being released around that time, including Contamination (1980) and Scared to Death (1981).

But intentional knock-off or not, Inseminoid did not compare well with Scott’s film, one critic saying

“imagine Alien without the fantastic sets, convincing special effects and literate dialogue, and you have a picture of Horror Planet.”

Inseminoid (1981) - IMDb

Alien was, in the words of film studies Professor Barbara Creed, an articulation of the archaic mother – the mother as “primordial abyss”, the place we all came from, and to which we fear we will return. Unlike Freud’s insistence that boys are terrified of what they see as their potential castration when they perceive their mother’s genitals as “a lack”, the monster in Alien, and to some extent Sandy in Inseminoid, represent not a castrated but a castrating feminine. The many shots of teeth seem to refer back to the classic tales of the vagina dentata – the toothed vagina.

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Although Sandy is eventually brought down by the square-jawed all-American hero, he is no match for her twin human-alien hybrids, who are just so cute, until they get hungry.

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But Inseminoid had one advantage over Alien: it had a cannibal, and a female one at that. Praise be.

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Next week’s blog: the final episode of Hannibal ever (or until they make a new season).

“He is pure evil” – the Jeffrey Dahmer interviews

Serial killers and/or cannibals don’t usually give interviews, probably at the insistence of their legal counsel, but after his arrest, and sentenced to 937 years behind bars, Jeffrey Dahmer was willing, even keen, to tell his story to whoever would listen.

Dahmer was arrested in 1991 after a killing spree that started in 1978 and took the lives of seventeen young men and boys. Serial killers are not so rare, particularly in the US, that they get worldwide attention, but Dahmer also readily admitted to eating parts of some of his victims, and the police found body parts in his fridge, apparently ready for the next meal. He quickly became known as “The Milwaukee Cannibal”. The media frenzy was awesome to behold.

In 1993, Dahmer sat down with Nancy Glass for an interview that was aired on Bill O’Reilly’s show Inside Edition. The segment (link below) was called

“INSIDE THE MIND OF JEFFREY DAHMER: SERIAL KILLER’S CHILLING JAILHOUSE INTERVIEW”.

O’Reilly introduced the segment by saying

“He is pure evil, but you’d never know it by looking at him.”
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The tools of true crime interviews are graphics, eerie music and a suitably horrified interviewer. This segment had all three, in spades.

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Dahmer, though, was calm and rational, answering each question fully and, apparently, as honestly as he could. He spoke of his “sexual fantasies of control, power, complete dominance” which became reality, and stated

“It’s a process, it doesn’t happen overnight. When you depersonalise another person and view them as just an object, an object for pleasure instead of a living, breathing human being, it seems to make it easier to do things you shouldn’t do.”

The cannibalism was “a way of making me feel that they were a part of me”.

Nancy Glass concluded that

“Jeffrey Dahmer is intelligent and articulate. That is what makes him so frightening.”
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In February 1994, nine months before Dahmer was bashed to death in prison, Stone Phillips recorded an interview with Jeffrey and Lionel Dahmer (his Dad) who had just published a book on his side of the story. Phillips included excerpts from other interviews with Jeffrey’s father and, separately, his mother. This was shown on DATELINE, and later put together with some of the unaired footage into a TV movie (link below) called

“CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL KILLER”

Phillips, like other interviewers, described Dahmer as “”polite and unnervingly normal”.

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Dahmer’s father spoke of Jeffrey’s trauma when he was two or three and suffered a double hernia, which can make the penis seem to disappear into the body.

“You know, the old Freudian castration complex might come to bear here… he was concerned about losing his penis. He asked his mother if he had lost it, if it had been cut off”

Which is what Jeffrey did to some of his victims later, so there just might be something to that.

Lionel added that, when he first saw Jeffrey after the arrest,

“He just looked very innocuous. He looked like an average person who couldn’t possibly do the things that he did”

Dahmer made several interesting admissions to Phillips

  • It was not about race (even though ten of his victims were African American): he said that race didn’t matter – his first two victims were white, the third was American Indian, the fourth and fifth were Hispanic. It was just their looks he was after.
  • The cannibalism “made me feel like they were a permanent part of me”. Also, he was curious as to what it would be like to eat human flesh.
  • He didn’t enjoy the killing. What he wanted was to create “living zombies” by drilling holes in their heads and pouring in muriatic acid or hot water, but it never worked.
  • Why? “I just wanted to have the person under my complete control, not having to consider their wishes, being able to keep them there as long as I wanted”.
  • He became a Christian in jail, because of material sent by his Dad, which (he said) proved that evolution was “a complete lie” which “cheapens life”.

Dahmer refused to blame his parents or education or society for his actions, but was happy to blame his formerly secular viewpoint:

“…if a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behaviour, to keep it within acceptable ranges?”

Dostoevsky felt the same way in Brothers Karamazov:

“…if you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up. Moreover, nothing then would be immoral, everything would be lawful even cannibalism.”

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JEFFREY DAHMER: MIND OF A MONSTER

A new documentary was released on May 25, 2020. This is not specifically an interview with Dahmer, although it uses the  transcripts of the lengthy (66 hours) of police interrogations, as well as speaking to cops, journalists, neighbours, his father and even a couple of victims who escaped. 

It’s available on Youtube below:

 

DAHMER: THE QUIET CANNIBAL

Dahmer was the quintessential contemporary cannibal. Most people have fantasies, some quite violent (his father wrote in his book about his own murder fantasies) but most do not act on them. As Dylan said:

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only.

Most importantly, Dahmer was invisible to the society he lived in. Look at the descriptions of him above:

  • intelligent and articulate
  • polite and unnervingly normal
  • innocuous

Dahmer was not the terrifying ‘monster’ or ‘savage’ from beyond the borders of the polis. He looked and sounded just like one of us. His fantasies of control, power, complete dominance and his curiosity and appetite are driving forces of modern, capitalist societies. As, of course, is objectification of people and other animals for pleasure.

Pogo's Warning to Business: 'We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us ...

There have also been several re-enactment movies about Dahmer, including Jeremy Renner’s splendid portrayal in the movie called, naturally, Dahmer. My blog from a couple of years back on that movie can be seen here.

Cannibalism 2020: the year so far

Look, 2020 hasn’t been dull, you gotta admit. So far this year, we’ve had fire, flood, famine and pestilence (pandemic variety) and it’s not even the solstice yet.

What Does 2020 Have in Store for the Life Sciences? | BioSpace

In reports of cannibalism, it’s all happening in the countries starting with the letter U; the United States and Ukraine are neck and neck. The US could have pulled ahead, but the guy who allegedly hung his Grindr date upside down, cut off his testicles and ate them, did it on Christmas eve, so technically that’s still 2019 (a pretty big year for cannibal stories – six cases documented).

2020: USA

In Brooklyn NY on April 15, Khaled Ahmad ran up to some cops from the 68th Precinct who were on meal break in a bagel shop about 4:30 a.m., and told them he had killed his 57-year-old father. The victim had been gutted and “the victim’s innards were removed but not found, leading some investigators to believe Ahmad may have eaten them”. Ahmad “had a history of mental illness” while the unfortunate father was a retired grocer, who had just sold his store in Rockaway Beach, Queens.

On the other side of the country, police were called to a home in Richmond, California, where they found Dwayne Wallick, a “suspected” cannibal, “digging into his grandmother’s dead body and trying to eat her remains”. The murder involved both a knife and an ice pick. “Police believe unspecified drugs may have played a role in the crime”. No shit, Sherlock.

PICTURED: California 'cannibal', 37, 'found eating his 90-year-old ...

2020: Ukraine

A 41-year-old Ukrainian admitted that he killed his girlfriend, then fried and ate her legs after the two had a drinking session at home on April 13. He hid the rest of her body in the reeds of a nearby river, where it was found the next day by a father taking his two children for a stroll.

Officers ambushed Oleksandr in his home and found him frying flesh from his girlfriend’s leg before eating it. Local reports said the police felt sick after witnessing the horrific scene. According to Ukrainian media, Oleksandr cooked his girlfriend’s legs and ate them after he reportedly ‘got hungry’.

Also in Ukraine, Maxim and Yaroslav Kostyukov, 42 and 21, were convicted of killing Yevgeny ‘Zhenya’ Petrov, 45, in Ukraine. The three had been drinking together when a row developed over the conflict between Kiev’s army and pro-Moscow rebels in the eastern part of the country.

A court heard how the son had held Petrov from behind while the father stabbed him twice in the chest. Yaroslav Kostyukov then beheaded the victim and cut flesh from the corpse as well as his heart, kidneys, liver and other internal organs. He confessed to cooking the “meat” which was served when the father and son hosted a homeless man called Yura.

Prosecutor Oksana Karnaukh said: “There is no such crime as cannibalism listed in the Criminal Code of Ukraine.” The pair were, however, charged them with murder and aggravating circumstances committed by a group of persons, and illegal possession of arms. And, presumably, legs.

Father and son cannibals who beheaded an ex-cop and cooked his ...

 

Here’s the thing – would you pick any of these guys as cannibals? They don’t have a single eye in the middle of their forehead like the cyclops or dog-faces like the cyanocephali. They don’t have bones through their noses like the mythical cannibals of the colonial stories. In fact, since Jack the Ripper, cannibals have looked “normal” – indistinguishable from anyone else. Cannibalism has come home, and the cannibal could be living next door.

This one is NOT cannibalism

“The US has been processing dead bodies from Covid-19 diseases into hamburgers”

That was a post on the now defunct WeChat conspiracy theory site Zhidao Xuegong (it translates as “the Scholar Forum for Ultimate Truth”) in May 2020. Another post claimed that Covid-19 may have killed a million people in the US, with the corpses:

“very likely being processed into frozen meat, fake beef or pork, or processed into cooked meat as hamburgers and hot dogs. Cannibalism has existed in the US before … and only a few dozen years ago, Americans ate blacks, Indians and Chinese.”

The site reportedly had millions of followers on WeChat, which is the Chinese equivalent to Facebook, before the Chinese government shut them down. Apparently China did not want to make relations with the US any worse than they already were.  The site was closed for “fabricating facts, stoking xenophobia and misleading the public” which apparently is illegal in some parts of the world (and very popular in others).

Now THAT would have supplied some interesting stats for my 2020 cannibalism tally.

“All I want is to eat that arm and become like you”, DISTRICT 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)

Back in 2009, fifteen years after the end of apartheid, South Africa seemed to be the obvious place to make movies that offered clear metaphors about racism and xenophobia. Today, they’d probably be filmed in Minneapolis, but nonetheless, after more than ten years, this movie works just as well, perhaps even better in this time, when people have to fight for their lives against both racism and an invasive disease.

DISTRICT 9 is directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson (yes, that Peter Jackson), and set in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is presented as “found footage” – fictional news stories, CCTV and interviews. District 9 is an internment camp for aliens – not from across the border or across the ocean, but across the universe. A giant UFO hovers above the city showing no signs of life, and when the authorities cut their way inside they find it is full of diseased and starving aliens, who look, as Roger Ebert said, like two metre tall lobsters. They are brought to land and housed in a secure area – District 9 – where they recover, and cause havoc with their love of wrecking stuff and eating lots of cat food.

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Yes, it’s not without humour. There are “interviews” with people of different races, all saying that these aliens – now known universally as “prawns” – should be sent home or else taken out of the city, away from human contact. Resettlement camp, detention centre, ghetto – those who are different can be separated with just some pernicious circumlocution.

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The movie follows Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a naïve and nerdy mid-level executive in a huge multi-national corporation called MNU (it stands for Multi National United), which supplies mercenaries for just such situations.

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Wikus heads off with his army and a clipboard, believing that he is going to knock on doors and ask the “prawns” to agree to be moved to a new camp, whereas of course the whole process is aimed at intimidation and terrorising of the populace.

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Searching one building, he finds a tube of alien fuel, which they have been synthesising for twenty years, planning an escape. He opens it, and it sprays all over him.

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Soon, he starts metamorphosing into a “prawn” – his hand turns into an alien claw, and his teeth and nails start to fall out. This is obviously a big problem – actually two. First, his company, MNU, wants to cut him up and study his organs, desperate to learn how to transmute others, because the aliens have immensely powerful weapons that will only operate in the hands of someone with alien DNA. He escapes back to District 9, pursued by the sadistic head of the corporation’s private army, who personifies white supremacist violence.

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Back in District 9, Wikus is captured by a Nigerian criminal gang, who make their fortune from the aliens, selling them cat food, and offering interspecies prostitution (delicately presented). The Nigerians’ leader, whose name is taken from that of a former President of Nigeria, also wants to control those weapons, and believes eating Wikus’ arm will make him part alien as well. Why not just eat a prawn? Oh, they’ve tried that.

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The trope of cannibals taking on the strengths of those they eat has been around pretty much forever. It is used to explain both mortuary cannibalism, where the strength of the ancestors is passed to the descendants through their flesh, and also aggressive cannibalism where the legs of the fastest enemy, or the testicles – you get the idea. It revolves around the idea that “you are what you eat”, but if you believe that, well, what does that say about the trolls who love to write “But BACON!” on vegan social media sites?

The film was shot around Johannesburg, and the squalid hovels shown were in an area of Soweto that was being demolished and the people relocated. The story is based on the true case of District Six in Capetown, where 60,000 inhabitants were forcibly removed during the 1970s by the apartheid regime. But finding a parallel story of forced removals of oppressed populations would not be difficult in most of the world’s nations. A reviewer wrote in an article entitled “District 9 reveals human inhumanity”:

“Substitute “black,” “Asian,” “Mexican,” “illegal,” “Jew,” or any number of different labels for the word “prawn” in this film and you will hear the hidden truth behind the dialogue, echoing what we historically as a species are all too capable of doing.”

Several different facets of cannibalism are presented in District 9. The Nigerians eat “prawns” – is that cannibalism, or if not, what about their plan to eat Wikus as he transforms into a prawn? The big corporation is only interested in the billions of dollars that will come from working out how to operate the alien weapons, and are ready and willing to sacrifice Wikus and use his body parts in pursuit of this goal. The aliens are tall and powerful (pulling people limb from limb in a few scenes) and look a bit reminiscent of the creatures from the Alien movie franchise, even though they don’t eat each other or the humans; but  they are keen on meat from other species like pigs and goats and whoever ends up in the slurry called cat food.

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The formal definition of cannibalism tries to restrict the definition to humans eating humans, but it is always leaking out the sides. What we see in this film is the way that anyone can be abused, objectified and even eaten if they can be reclassified as inhuman or subhuman. Wikus starts the story happy to burn down shacks full of alien eggs, enjoying the sound of the eggs bursting, which sounds like popcorn. Captured by the corporation and made to operate alien weapons, he is happy to destroy pigs but begs not to be made to shoot the aliens. Later, turning into a “prawn”, he is more than happy to use the alien weapons to blow apart various soldiers of his former employer, to protect the prawns. The irony of this film is that Wikus, who is a fully carnophallogocentric human in the terms used by Derrida (“adult white male, European, carnivorous and capable of sacrifice”), only finds his humanity when he begins morphing into something else and becomes one of the outsiders he previously disdained.

It’s well worth seeing – if you don’t dig the message, then there’s plenty of action scenes, car chases and explosions. Some unintended explosions after the movie, too, when the Nigerian Information Minister asked cinemas to ban the film because it depicted Nigerians as criminals and cannibals. Not the first time white people have applied those epithets against Africans, and the film also scored a mention in Salon’s list of “white saviour” movies, since Wikus is white, and desperate to remain so. But the Malawian actor, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, who played the gang leader, said that the Nigerians in the cast weren’t bothered: “It’s a story, you know. It’s not like Nigerians do eat aliens. Aliens don’t even exist in the first place.” Sensible, but not a great look for a film that is slamming racist stereotypes through the metaphor of speciesism.

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The direction is adroit and the story buzzes along with never a dull moment. The acting is first rate, even the guys in the alien suits become sympathetic characters, and the special effects are first rate. The film has a 90% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s available on Netflix.

“Is Hannibal in love with me?” HANNIBAL 3:12 “The Number of the Beast Is 666”

The penultimate episode of Hannibal! You see, I thought if I dragged out these reviews, they would surely have a fourth series ready by the time I finished the whole 39 episodes (in three weeks from now); after all, I’ve been reviewing Hannibal episodes since October 2018! There is certainly talk of a fourth season or a movie, a discourse reignited by the fact that Netflix has just started streaming the series in the USA and some other countries (not Australia – here it’s on Stan).

#savehannibals4 

What do you do when you can’t go home?

It’s a very contemporary question, Hannibal has told us he cannot go home to Lithuania, although we don’t know why (but hopefully will find out in Season 4). But in this episode, made in 2015, the threat is not a pandemic but a serial killer, “The Great Red Dragon”, who slaughters families and puts broken pieces of mirror in their eyes so he can watch them watching him changing them. Will Graham’s family have fled after the killer came for them, their address supplied by the ever-helpful Hannibal. He told the Dragon “Save yourself. Kill them all”.

You and I don’t want to catch COVID-19, but Will certainly wants to catch the Dragon. But he is broken – his family is gone, in hiding, unlikely to see him again, or certainly not until the threat has been eliminated. In dreams, Will sees himself killing the Dragon’s victims, but each woman is his wife. This was Hannibal`s design. Will asks Bedelia:

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Bedelia: “Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for you and find nourishment at the very sight of you? Yes. But do you ache for him?”

Bedelia is quoting, or paraphrasing, Dante, the sonnet that Hannibal quoted in the movie Hannibal to Inspector Pazzi’s wife, Allegra:

“He woke her then, and trembling and obedient, she ate that burning heart out of his hand. Weeping, I saw him then depart from me. Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for her? Find nourishment in the very sight of her? I think so. But would she see through the bars of his plight, and ache for him?”

Is Bedelia paraphrasing Dante because she also loves Hannibal? Or do all psychiatrists do a unit in fourteenth century Italian literature? We know her Italian is good enough to order Bâtard-Montrachet (Chardonnay) and tartufi bianchi (white truffles) – there’s a clue! Anyway, Bedelia now loves Hannibal being in the asylum – because he wants her dead, but only if he can do the actual killing,

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Will is not contemplating love in any form, gustatory or otherwise, he is plotting destruction. As Hannibal puts it,

“Will’s thoughts are no more bound by fear or kindness than Milton’s were by physics.”

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Well, now we’re getting somewhere, and it’s not medical but metaphysical. John Milton was a seventeenth century poet who wrote Paradise Lost, a fair description of Will’s current domestic situation – neither he, his wife or his step-son can go back to their idyllic estate until the Dragon is caught or, preferably, killed. Rather than getting lost in empathy, as he usually does, Will is now drowning in rage, and is “free and damned” – Hannibal is paraphrasing Sartre’s insistence that humans are “cursed with freedom” – other animals are bound by their instinct, but we always have to make choices, often between less than ideal options.

Hannibal sees Will more clearly than anyone, and quotes the Book of Revelations to Jack:

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Yes, it’s Armageddon coming up – and it starts with confrontation. Will is going to make himself a target for the Dragon, to draw him out. He calls together Freddie Lounds, who will publish anything if it sells her magazine, and Frederick Chilton, who will spout his pop psychology to anyone in order to get publicity for his new book, which is called (honest) “Hannibal the Cannibal”. Chilton is furious with Hannibal for publically repudiating the book as nonsense, effectively disproving the insanity defence by which he was saved from execution. Why would Hannibal do that? Because Frederick doesn’t have “the proper stuff” to write about either Hannibal or the Dragon.

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Now he’s quoting Goethe. Imagine what else he could find to enrage people with if Alana hadn’t taken away all his books!

There are a lot of allusions in this episode, both to the Classics and to the Hannibal books, particularly Red Dragon – lot of the dialogue comes verbatim from that book, although often from different characters. There is a good analysis of the intertextualities on the Hannibal Fandom page.

During the interview, Will translates Frederick’s pretentious psychobabble into real insults, the ones that your regular alpha serial killer might reasonably object to:

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Then Freddie takes a photo, showing the Dragon where Will is, and with Will’s hand on Frederick’s shoulder.

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Frederick has two security guards to ensure his safety, but their brains are splattered on the back of his car while he is still gloating on the phone about his new book. He is captured, and learns that the Dragon is “becoming”, he is “Other”

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Hilariously, blind Reba comes to visit in the midst of Frederick’s torment. She can’t see Frederick (although she must be able to smell him; he’s been shitting himself since the Dragon took the stocking off his face), Frederick can’t say anything (or she’ll be killed) and the Dragon can’t hear her concern, her love, as she gives him some soup she made because he took the day off work. They are the three wise monkeys.

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Yeah, it’s not the flu.

Like COVID-19, the Dragon’s psychopathy is worse than the flu. It’s more serious, and Frederick has caught it bad. He is shown slides of the Dragon’s work: before and after shots,

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The Dragon opens his mouth and puts in his falsies, a set of his grandma’s dentures, the grandma who screwed him up by threatening to castrate him with her scissors when he was an incontinent little boy. He wears them whenever he goes killing. Both Hannibal and Freud would love to meet this guy.

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He jumps over the couch, growling, a predatory animal, and bites off Frederick’s lips, which he posts to Hannibal, who in turn eats one of them.

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The Dragon sends the FBI a video of Chilton’s forced confession, including the screams during the lipectomy. Will is less than thrilled as he watches. But, as Bedelia tells him, quoting the words Hannibal used to her, “that’s participation”. Will knew what would happen: the Dragon always kills the pet first.

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With that photo op, Will might as well have lit the match that sent Frederick, burning, rolling down the hill.

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Burnt flesh, eaten lips. At last, a trace of cannibalism. This is a cannibalism blog (I quickly remind you, and myself). And Hannibal never disappoints.

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Next (and, sob, final) Hannibal blog in three weeks – June 28.