Jindu told the court, in gruesome detail, how he had eaten the men’s livers raw, and cooked and eaten their brains.
The court had heard that Jindu was mentally incapacitated, but a medical examination presented in court declared him fit to stand trial. During the trial, Jindu stated that he was sent by the devil to kill the two men, and threatened to unleash Lucifer onto prosecutors.
Jindu requested assisted suicide after the decision was handed down, but has now changed his mind, and is seeking acquittal on the grounds of mental incapacity. His appeal states in part:
“There was cogent evidence that appellant was mentally incapacitated to appreciate the implications of his actions at the material time of committing the offence. Wherefore, appellants prays that the appeal be and is hereby allowed”
There’s a thorough analysis of the cases on the Amanda and Banele vodcast, at the top of this blog.
No longer a monster or ‘savage’, the contemporary cannibal is hard to tell from anyone else in a suit and tie.
Joe D’Amato was a prolific director of around 200 films in a wide range of genres, but is best known for his horror and erotic ones. Antropophagus is not one of his ‘best’ (if that word even means anything in these genres) but has developed a cult following in the forty years since its release. D’Amato did not make many cannibal films for some reason – we have previously reviewed his Black Emanuelle film Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, and we still need to look at (eventually) a few more including Emanuelle’s Revenge, Papaya Love Goddess of the Cannibals, Beyond the Darkness, Orgasmo Nero and the sequel to this one, directed under the pseudonym Peter Newton, Antropophagus II. Looks like we’re going to be here for a while, folks!
The lost travellers encountering savage or insane cannibals is one of the favourite tropes of cannibal stories. Odysseus and his men getting gobbled up by the Cyclops would be an early version (assuming a guy with only one eye in the middle of his head and a god-father is “human” which is pretty important for the definition of cannibalism). But ancient tales loved to dwell on the semi-human monsters outside civilisation eating unwary travellers, as did the lurid tales told by explorers and missionaries in colonial times. Robinson Crusoe is part of the tradition, although he was on his own until he met Friday (whom he saved from, yep, cannibals).
In films, the defining moment for sexed up teens in faulty cars getting slaughtered and eaten by crazed cannibals was Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974, where the cannibals were rust-belt hillbillies killing tourists to replace the closure of the slaughterhouses and loss of their usual victims, and The Hills Have Eyes where the cannibals were mutants created by atomic testing in the desert. The killers got progressively weirder with such offerings as Wrong Turn which was sort of Deliverance with a meat department, but the prize for weirdest demented cannibal probably goes to this one: Antropophagus.
Instead of driving around or breaking down in dodgy areas of derelict states to run into cannibal tribes, this lot are touring the Greek Islands on a yacht. Well, if you’re going to get killed and eaten, do it in style. We start off with a couple of German tourists relaxing on probably the most uncomfortable beach you’ve ever seen, the girl going for a swim because apparently Jaws hadn’t been released in Germany five years before this movie was made?
Her boyfriend, relaxing on some sharp lava, has a rude awakening involving a meat cleaver through his head.
We immediately switch to our jetsetting tourists on a cable car in Athens. One of the tourists is heavily pregnant, so sailing around the islands is an even weirder choice when you think about it, and leads to the most famous cannibal scene involving a fetus in any movie (not many directors other than D’Amato have dreamed of getting away with anything like that).
Antropophagus was written by D’Amato and George Eastman (born Luigi Montefiori), the incredibly tall villain of heaps of Italian B-movies and Spaghetti Westerns as well as several of D’Amato’s other movies. In this one, Eastman plays the slasher, who (it turns out from a journal he left lying around on the island) was driven mad when he and his family were shipwrecked and he ended up eating the wife and child to survive. So now he kills and eats people who come to his island. Everyone needs a hobby. And the role of the cannibal has always been to explore the limits of humanity, and the extremes of inhumanity.
Look, it’s a slasher, and they are not to everyone’s taste, in fact a version of the film without most of the gore was released in the US and UK under the title The Grim Reaper. The acting is pretty awful, ranging from wooden to way over the top. But D’Amato was a talented director (as well as prolific) and the scenes of Athens including the changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Greek Islands, are glorious, and accompanied by suitably cheerful bouzouki music.
The team head for an island which turns out to be ‘almost’ deserted (because everyone’s dead of course). They can’t understand it and ask, forty years too early:
Well, they’ll laugh about that one when they tell the story to their grandkids in 2020 or so. The “final girl” (there’s usually a final girl who survives the slasher) is played by Tisa Farrow, little sister of Mia Farrow, and daughter of Maureen O’Sullivan. Quite a lineage. She’s supposed to be there to look after a blind girl, who doesn’t know where her parents are, but can still tell when the antropophagus is lurking.
The middle section of the film follows the mystified tourists as they explore an apparently deserted town on a remote island, but it’s not really dull, more atmospheric, establishing the existence of evil, a malevolent presence that smells of blood.
Besides the blind girl with the supernose who can smell blood (but can’t apparently smell a room full of corpses), there is Carol (Zora Kerova from Cannibal Ferox) who can read Tarot cards and sense evil vibes.
There’s an electrical storm worthy of King Lear. A scene in a cemetery (of course). A mysterious woman who leaves threatening messages. A blind girl who attacks them with a knife. A whole lot of rooms full of bodies, which surprisingly are discovered by pulling off their shrouds rather than by smelling their decomposition. A seemingly inexhaustible packet of Marlboro (product placement maybe?) A lot of pointless relationship arguments. But, if you’ve bought a ticket to see the gore, then as one critic wrote on IMDB,
“The movie starts with a brutal meat cleaver scene then becomes very slow n downright tedious. The last twenty mins contains the two nasty scenes coz of which this film earned the video nasty label.”
I liked the way the violence is mostly presented from the point of view of the cannibal, rather than the victim. At the beginning we see forward movement, drops of blood, a meat cleaver. Later there is a view of the boat through metal palings and some guttural breathing. When one of the men has his throat torn out, we see the throat, before we finally see the antropophagus with his bloody mouth, bad haircut and poor dental hygiene, but that’s already fifty minutes into the film.
So the scenes of the “normal” people are intentionally dull – there’s pretty scenery, with the occasional interruption for carnage and slaughter. Something for everyone. Makes a nice contrast with the depraved cannibal, who we eventually find out (by flashback!) was a shipwreck survivor and accidentally killed his wife when she wouldn’t let him eat their dead son. Domestic cannibal in domestic dispute.
So – the famous last twenty minutes. Pregnant lady is found by her pretty useless husband in a crypt where rats with red eyes (hungover? Late flight?) are eating corpses.
The antropophagus stabs the guy, who dies slowly enough to watch him pull the fetus from her body and, yep, eat it (turns out it was a skinned rabbit, as if that makes us feel better).
Then in the climax, he gets disembowelled with a pickaxe, and in the last moments of the film, starts to chew on his own intestines.
Yep, both of those scenes were left out of The Grim Reaper. The full film is still banned in England according to The Horror Geek, because they thought it was a real fetus. Read Wikipedia before making censorship decisions, guys!
If you can’t / don’t want to watch the whole movie, you can get a comprehensive and extremely funny summary together with some priceless Gilligan’s Island references on the YouTube site of the Horror Geek. Highly recommended.
Cronos is the first feature film of Guillermo del Toro, better known for his later mind-bending fantasies Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water. Del Toro was originally chosen by Peter Jackson to direct The Hobbit trilogy, but couldn’t do it, due to extended delays. So he’s a top tier director, an auteur, as the French say. He was only 29 when he made Cronos, yet it has been hailed as one of the greatest horror films and one of the best Spanish language films, and has a rating of 91% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. Empire Magazine called it a “unique, terrifying mini-masterpiece.”
At this point I need to admit that it is less a cannibal film than a vampire one. Now I have nothing against vampires, some of my best friends are vampires (probably), but a cannibal should really be alive rather than undead, IMHO. This one is so good, though, that I’m giving it a run on the cannibal blog. Apologies to the cannibal purists.
There is also a link to #cannibalism, because the undertaker (yes, even immortals sometimes need undertakers) is Tito (Daniel Giménez Cacho), in a prequel role for the great cannibal movieWe Are What We Are, in which he was the coroner who found a finger in the dad’s stomach. You’d have to watch it – it’s worth it.
Anyway. Gothic movies usually start off a few centuries in the past, because old magic is just – better. This one has a 14th century alchemist inventing a device which looks like a Faberge egg with claws. The device sticks its claws into whomever happens to pick it up and an insect inside (species yet to be determined) injects something (IDK – vitamin C? Testosterone?) which makes the person immortal. Centuries later – in the present – an earthquake reveals the dead alchemist. Well, he was immortal, but the earthquake caused a stake to pierce his heart, which is not ideal if you’re a vampire (or anyone else really). The egg is in a statue of an archangel, which is the first of a string of religious symbols (hey, it’s Spanish, OK?)
The statue ends up with antique dealer, Jesús Gris (played by the wonderful Federico Luppi who was one of Guillermo del Toro ‘s favourite actors and was also in The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth). Gris and his granddaughter Aurora (Tamara Shanath) extract the egg, wind it up and it plunges its stingers into him.
There’s some blood and pain, sure, but he finds he is getting younger, and heals much faster. You laugh a little, you cry a little, but then there’s another problem – he develops a longing for human blood.
There’s also a dying businessman (Claudio Brook, The Exterminating Angel and several other films of Luis Bunuel) who really wants the Cronos Device. His American nephew (Ron Perlman, Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy) is brought in to seek out the device by any means necessary (some of which are quite nasty). He puts up with his uncle, because he is named in the will, but wait, if uncle is immortal…
What would you do to defeat death, to live forever?
As Roger Ebert observed, there are some real religious issues explored here – the battle of good and evil, love (for Gris’ wife and granddaughter) being more powerful than greed, and particularly the unshakeable belief in divine afterlife. What happens to that hope if you never die? And what if that extended life requires eating flesh and drinking blood? Would you risk hell to avoid going to heaven? When little Aurora cuts her hand, Jesus has to decide if his thirst is really worth drinking his granddaughter’s blood.
Of course, that assumes that drinking blood is somehow essentially evil. Tell that to a mosquito.
Jesus Gris is, like any good vampire, likely to start smoking ominously if he finds himself in the sunshine. But can his goodness overcome the vamp issues? Well he dies and comes back to life, reborn in a glowing white skin, he takes many savage beatings, saying that he can handle the pain, then he smashes the egg, declaring
Jesus Gris – translates to English as “the Grey Jesus”. He is the suffering servant, who died and came back to life. There is a lot of that in Spanish films, but this one has an added twist:
Yes, he wants blood. Could that be a backhander to the Church? Religion can motivate good deeds, or suck the blood of the devotees. The Eucharist is all about transubstantiation – the wine and wafer are believed (by some) to be literally the blood and body of Christ. Hannibal is full of it, particularly the resurrection of Mason Verger and his attempt to eat Hannibal. It’s the eternal paradox.
Cronos won the grand prize in the Critics’ Week at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival, and nine Mexican Academy Awards, including best picture and director. It has an enviable 91% “fresh” on the Rotten Tomatoes website. The Criterion Blu-ray edition is available at Amazon. The soundtrack is superb, by the acclaimed Mexican composer Javier Álvarez. Highly recommended.
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NEXT WEEK: One of the most controversial cannibal films of all time: Joe D’Amato’s Antropophagus.
On Friday, 18 June 2021, a Swiss court sentenced 46-year-old Alieu Kosiah, a West African rebel leader, to 20 years in prison for rape, murder and cannibalism, committed during Liberia’s civil war. The case before a three-judge panel at the federal criminal court in Bellinzona was Switzerland’s first war crimes trial held in a civilian court.
Kosiah, AKA “bluff boy”, was a commander in the rebel faction United Liberation Movement of Liberiafor Democracy (ULIMO) that fought former President Charles Taylor’s army in the 1990s. He faced 25 charges, including one in which he was accused of eating slices of a school-teacher’s heart. He was found guilty of all but four of the charges. The court listed the charges as
“recruitment and use of a child soldier, forced transportation, looting, cruel treatment of civilians, attempted murder, murder (directly or by order), desecration of a corpse and rape.”
Criminal complaints were filed by Liberian victims, represented by civil rights group Civitas Maxima. The indictment says Kosiah killed or participated in the killing of 18 civilians, forced a displaced woman to be his “wife”, raping her repeatedly, and recruited a 12-year-old boy as his personal bodyguard. In one incident described in the indictment, Kosiah joined fighters in eating slices of a dead man’s heart off a metal plate. Acts of cannibalism were not uncommon in the conflict.
Kosiah was arrested in 2014 under a Swiss law that allows prosecution for serious crimes committed anywhere, under the principle of universal jurisdiction. He had denied all the charges and told the court he was a minor when first recruited into the conflict.
Dubbed “the Monster” by survivors of the war, Kosiah is infamously remembered for the Black Monday attack on June 28, 1993 when rebels rounded up and massacred villagers in Foya, Lofa County.
Other Liberian war criminals
Liberia has ignored pressure to prosecute crimes from its continuous wars between 1989-2003, in which about 250,000 people died and thousands of child soldiers were conscripted and taught to kill and commit atrocities. Charles Taylor is himself currently serving a 50-year prison sentence for aiding and abetting rebels who committed atrocities in neighbouring Sierra Leone, but not for his actions in Liberia. His son, Chuckie, was sentenced for torture in Liberia by a U.S. court in 2009.
Ex-warlord Mohammed “Jungle Jabbah” Jabateh has been jailed for 30 years in the US for lying about his past as a leader of a force that carried out multiple murders and acts of cannibalism.
In July 2018, France detained naturalised Dutch citizen Kunti K, a suspected former militant ULIMO commander and placed him under formal investigation for crimes against humanity including torture and cannibalism. Another Liberian commander, Gibril Massaquoi, known as “Angel Gabriel” is on trial in Finland accused of eating his victims, burning kids alive and raping women. A verdict is expected around September this year.
An ULIMO commander named Joshua Milton Blahyi known as “General Butt Naked” gave evidence to Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008:
“Any time we captured a town, I had to make a human sacrifice. They bring to me a living child that I slaughter and take the heart off to eat it… A lady offered me her child for my sacrifice. After cutting up the child I divided the heart among my boys and myself. The blood of the child was still on my hand when Jesus appeared to me and asked me to stop being a slave.”
Blahyi’s crimes included child sacrifice, cannibalism, the exploitation of child soldiers and trading blood diamonds for guns and cocaine, which he provided to boy soldiers as young as nine. He was never charged, and is now an evangelical pastor. He published an autobiography about his conversion.
The cannibal as animal
During his trial, Alieu Kosiah broke down and shouted:
“I’ve been locked up for six years, I have emotions, I’m not an animal.”
Well actually, he is an animal. We all are: humans are a species of Great Ape, as are our closest relatives the chimpanzees, who also wage war and indulge in occasional cannibalism. The point here, though, is that Kosiah saw himself stereotyped as a black man, an African, in a court full of white Europeans passing judgement on him. To the European, only a century or so ago, all Africans were considered savages and cannibals, little more than beasts, a libel which is hard to expunge, and a demonisation that was just as useful to European imperialist expansion as the use of gunboats. As recently as 1959, New York Times reporter Homer Bigart (an almost perfect name) wrote to his foreign news editor about his contempt for the new class of African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah,
“I vastly prefer the primitive bush people. After all, cannibalism may be the logical antidote to this population explosion everyone talks about.”
The savagery and cannibalism of the multitudes of wars that have swept Africa in the last decades have led to appalling atrocities. But let us not forget the role of the colonialist rulers who divided the continent up, regardless of the local tribal areas, and sucked the riches out of the land, leaving the newly independent countries destitute and riven with implacable hatreds.
As Malcolm X wrote in 1965 about the colonisers of Africa:
They projected Africa always in a negative light: jungles, savages, cannibals, nothing civilized.
This film should have been a corker. It has a good pedigree – it is based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, ER, Westworld, Coma, etc, etc – the man was a prolific author of books and films and TV series). The story is based on Beowulf, one of the great classics of Old English literature. It was directed by one of the doyens of thriller films John McTiernan (Predator, Die Hard, Hunt for Red October, Last Action Hero) and final edits and extra shots were done by Crichton himself. It starred such luminaries as Antonio Banderas and (briefly) the late, great Omar Sharif.
But it bombed at the Box Office, big time, reputedly losing $100,000,000. Omar Sharif was so disgusted by the final output that he quit acting for a few years, calling it “a film so bad that it is not even worth exploring”. Nonetheless, explore it we shall, because, you know, it has cannibals. If you’re interested in what went wrong, Collider has a thorough and forensic dissection.
The story centres around Ahmad ibn Fadlan (Banderas), an actual historical figure – he was a Moslem travel writer from the tenth century. He gets exiled from Baghdad for fancying the wrong woman (the king’s wife) and ends up among the Vikings, who find him pretty funny, because he keeps telling them he’s not a warrior, which is rather important to Vikings. Anyway, a Viking boy appears from another kingdom telling of an ancient evil that even the bravest warriors dare not face, so of course they really, really want to go and face it, but their resident soothsayer says sooth, they need a 13th warrior, and, to make it interesting, he can’t be a Viking. So Ahmad becomes the thirteenth, thus the title. He learns their language by listening to them, proving, in his grasp of vocabulary, the superiority of the civilised man.
After this, their language somehow morphs into accented English, since audiences do not want to spend an action movie reading subtitles.
Anyway, (spoiler alert) they eventually find that the Wendols (sounds like Grendel from Beowulf, doesn’t it) are cannibals clothed to look like bears; they live like bears, and consider themselves bears. With teeth like a lion, but that’s OK, because good monsters are usually some sort of hybrid. But these are also human, -ish, bit like orcs. Dark skin, by coincidence, useful to tell the difference from the very Aryan Norsemen.
These dudes gnaw on their victims, and take the heads home to mother, whose calling card is an ancient fertility statue. Some humans prefer to eat legs, some breasts; these guys’ mum likes heads.
In the book, they turn out to be Neanderthals, but the movie does not go into detail of their species (just as well, because if they aren’t sapiens, they can’t so easily be accused of cannibalism). Of course, like Beowulf, the mother is the chief monster, and the Vikings are told they have to kill her. Their crazy old Völva (a much more appropriate name for a seer) tells them to find her under the earth – in a cave, like a bear.
So, the big plot point is that the mother of the Wendols eats people. So do the kids, but she is cannibal number one. She is what Barbara Creed calls
“the archaic mother… the parthenogenetic mother, the mother as primordial abyss.”
Our mother, who carries us, can seem, in what Freud called our infantile oral-sadistic or cannibalistic phase, just as easily able to reincorporate us. The archaic mother also has, or may appear to have, a phallus – in this movie, it’s a bear claw dipped in poison. Not a lot of use against a Viking broadsword, but she gives it a shot.
Roger Ebert said in his review “With a budget said to be more than $100 million, it displays a lot of cash on the screen, but little thought” and suggested it was designed just to showcase the special effects, with the story “shoehorned” in whenever there was a pause in the action.
Rotten Tomatoesgave it a measly 33% rating, and Time Out said “At its best, this achieves the beauty and grandeur of a Kurosawa epic – at its worst, however, it feels like a Python remake of The Vikings.”
There are some real political problems, not least that Banderas is a Spanish actor playing an Arab, which sounds a bit like Hollywood saying “they’re both not quite white, so that’s all right.” The bad guys are pretty black, and the good guys very white (you know, Viking). The big climax, the battle with the mother, is over in seconds, as is a second climax that got added probably as a filler, with her son in his QAnon horns (still trying to figure out why a bear with lion teeth has horns). Other plot points also fizzle out without much resolution.
When we get that hat and bear mask off, the chief dude is clearly painted like a savage. Lucky the white dudes were there to kill him.
Beowulf of course killed Grendel, and then had to worry about a very angry Grendel’s mother, so this retelling is totally upside down – they kill the mum, then the chief turns up. That’s about all there is for plot twists.
But the scenery is superb, the action scenes are spectacular, the actors playing Vikings are great; their accents – one seems to be Irish – are a bit distracting, but who is going to watch a film entirely in Norse? If you’re looking for a cannibal film with lots of swordplay and arms and legs (and sometimes heads) flying through the air, you might even enjoy this, as the Vikings hack away at the unending stream of orcs or bears or whatever.
It’s kind of like Zulu, or The Magnificent Seven – Vikings beating off hordes of Wendol bear-men instead of British soldiers shooting Africans or cowboys shooting Mexican bandits. These films always end with the white saviours, or the few who survive, riding (or sailing) off into the sunset.
The film has had a bit of a reassessment since its disappointing start, as Vikings have become more fashionable. I admit to quite enjoying it despite its obvious problems, but I probably wouldn’t have bothered with it if it didn’t have cannibals, and I just wish those cannibals could have had a bit more character depth. I was hoping that the dark skin of the cannibals was because the filming was done in some exotic location where the extras were cheap, but turns out it was filmed in British Columbia in Canada. So I guess we’re back to the earliest colonial myths of the black savage cannibal being enlightened, dispossessed or exterminated by the civilised white man. I would also appreciate an explanation of why the morally questionable Vikings, who think nothing of hacking off someone’s head, are so gobsmacked when someone else chooses to eat that same body part.
So the news media is sure that Armie Hammer either is, or is not, a cannibal. Let us (briefly I hope) review.
Hammer is a young American actor (not yet 35) who found fame with his 2008 portrayal of the evangelist Billy Graham in Billy, the Early Years for which he won a “Faith and Values Award” from Mediaguide, a Christian review organisation. Will the ironies never cease!
Hammer went on to star in several movies (including some bombs like The Lone Ranger alongside Johnny Depp) but he is best known for playing Oliver in Call Me by Your Name in 2017. He was supposed to star in a sequel, based on the novel Find Me, when his world turned to shit. Or didn’t. Because he was a cannibal. Or wasn’t.
While most of us were locked down in our humble homes for much of 2020, Hammer and his family locked down in a luxury villa in the Cayman Islands, where, he told GQ Mag,
“It was a very complicated, intense situation, with big personalities all locked in a little tiny place. I don’t think I handled it very well. I think, to be quite frank, I came very close to completely losing my mind.”
Hammer’s family was, shall we say, a colourful one. His aunt Casey declared “I started watching Succession and I had to turn it off, because it was like, ‘Oh, my God. That’s my family.’”
Close families! Hammer said he felt like a trapped wolf who wanted to “chew his own foot off.” Despite the raging pandemic, he flew back to the US, where he got over his imminent divorce with wild parties and a series of girlfriends.
Unfortunately for him, several of those girlfriends in early 2021 took to social media to describe Hammer as abusive, manipulative and violent. Screenshots of his text messages appeared to show him describing fantasies (or real events) of rape and cannibalism.
“I am 100% a cannibal…. Fuck. That’s scary to admit. I’ve never admitted that before. I’ve cut the heart out of a living animal before and eaten it while still warm.”
“I want to see your brain, your blood, your organs, every part of you. I would definitely bite it. 100%. Or try to fuck it. Not sure which. Probably both.”
“If I fucked you into a vegetative state id keep you, feed you, watch you, and keep fucking you…Till you are so sore and broken…. I can’t stop thinking of [fucking] your actual brain.”
“Brand you, tattoo you, mark you, shave your head and keep your hair with me, cut a piece of your skin off and make you cook it for me…. “Who’s slave/master relationship is the strongest?” We’d win. When I tell you to slit your wrists and use the blood for anal.”
In early March, Armie’s ex-girlfriend Paige Lorenze, 24, said in an explosive interview with Vanity Fair that during their time together she felt “really unsafe and sick to her stomach.” The interview claimed that the celebrity’s ex-partners have “compared him to Ted Bundy” and said he was obsessed with Shibari – a Japanese bondage art form where people are tied up in intricate patterns. Lorenze was horrified to see the accusations of cannibalism,
“Because he would say things to me…weird stuff…like, ‘I want to eat your ribs’.”
She also claimed that Hammer had carved his initial into her pubic area and licked the wound, later bragging about it to friends, and that Hammer was fixated on biting her body, saying,
”If you did not tell me to stop I would eat a piece out of you.” And he was serious too. It was like he actually wanted to eat my flesh away.
On their first night together, Lorenze said Hammer insisted: ‘You can either call me daddy or sir.’
Another woman named Effie whom he dated for about five months in 2020 said that he had told her he wanted to eat her flesh, and would suck or lick her wounds if she had “a little cut on my hand.”
But let’s remember that no one has actually accused Hammer of acting on his alleged cannibalistic fantasies — and in fact he has never confirmed that he sent those texts. In any case, texting and sex play, even bondage and sado-masochism (if consensual), are not illegal, and Hammer clearly enjoyed both.
But if he sent these texts, and if they were just fantasies, as they appear to be, he picked the very worst time, the apex of the #MeToo movement, to send them. Hammer subsequently lost leading roles for which he had been preparing, including in the Jennifer Lopez film Shotgun Wedding, and his agency dropped him. In March 2021, Effie, the woman who initially came forward with abuse allegations on Instagram, identified herself and accused Hammer of violently raping her in April 2017. The Los Angeles Police Department subsequently confirmed that he was the subject of a sexual assault investigation, which had been set in motion a month prior. Hammer has vehemently denied any wrongdoing via his lawyer, who stated that “all of his interactions with [Effie] – and every other sexual partner of his for that matter – have been completely consensual, discussed and agreed upon in advance, and mutually participatory.”
Hammer was unable to see his family during the pandemic lockdown, and his marriage fell apart.
In June 2021, Hammer checked into a Florida treatment centre for drug, alcohol and sex issues.
Katharine Gates, the author ofDeviant Desires, describes a cannibalistic sex role play that tends to “involve more realistic scenarios…but still fantasy—they’re not actually eating pieces of people, but you will have one person be the meat and another is the preparer.”
One role play which seems popular on sites like Tumblr revolves around cannibal acts, a ‘paraphilia’ known as vorarephilia (it’s not in the DSM) – sexual arousal at eating, or being eaten by, another person (enthusiasts call themselves “vores”). A few, such as Armin Meiwes, eventually find a willing partner and make the fantasy a reality, but such cases are incredibly rare – Meiwes himself found that almost all the men who responded to his requests for someone who wanted to be eaten were not finally ready to take it to the next level – actually becoming his meal.
But why this fascination? Cannibalism is an act of domination – there can be no greater conquest of another than converting them into a meal and eventually into excrement. Hammer revealed this need to dominate in wanting to be called ‘daddy or sir’. But this hunger for incorporative power goes back to our earliest experiences.
Freud wrote of an infantile impulse toward “oral incorporation” – a desire not just to feed at the mother’s breast but to consume, possess that source of nourishment, comfort, security and love. He called one of the earliest psychological phases the “cannibalistic pregenital sexual organisation”. This drive is both loving – wanting to unite with the object of desire, and destructive – prepared to destroy the object to satisfy those desires. Infants may generate such hostility when their needs and desires are not satisfied promptly, and may also learn fear from the suspicion that the source will never be enough, or that their feeble attempts to dominate the adult may be met with far more powerful reprisals.
Maggie Kilgour, the doyen of Cannibal Studies, summed up:
“…far from being sublimated into symbolic forms or even sexual desire, our original appetites still move us, so that we remain trapped in a new oral phase of consumption. The work implies that man-eating is a reality – it is civilisation that is the myth.”
So there is a deep vein of cannibalism in our unconscious minds, and it may resurface at times of stress (e.g. being locked down in the Cayman Islands) or as an expression of affection, which in Hammer’s case did not go over well.
Is Armie Hammer a cannibal? He is a rich and handsome movie star from a rich and famous family, who built his career on playing men who can get away with anything. He is certainly a privileged and persuasive abuser of (often much) younger women, a form of exploitative consumption that is uncomfortably close to cannibalistic ingestion.
But is he a cannibal? Almost certainly not in reality. But in his mind, in the deep, dark fissures of his unconscious, he certainly is. We all are.
The IT Crowd is a British comedy series about a couple of socially inept geeks who are employed as computer support in a fancy corporation. They are Moss – Richard Ayoade (Travel Man) and Roy – Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids, Girls), and their manager Jen – Katherine Parkinson (Doc Martin, Humans). It is a hilarious study of the absurdity of ‘normal’ interrelationships, portrayed through the eyes of the social outsiders. Moss and Roy are great with computers, but clueless with humans.
In Season 2 Episode 3, they realise their dependence on each other’s company has made them seem like ‘an old married couple’, so Moss decides to get out and see other people. He signs up for what he believes is a course of German cooking. But the cook is Johann (Philip Rham, who played a Death Eater in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Moss goes to see Johann, who is based on the Rotenburg Cannibal Armin Meiwes, who is hoping to cook him.
Johann has placed an ad saying “I want to cook with you.” This is roughly parallel to Armin Meiwes, who was a German computer technician and “vorephile” (a person with a sexual fetish for eating, or being eaten by, another human). He advertised in 2001 on a fetish website called The Cannibal Café for “a well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed”. The only reply that seemed sincere was from a man named Jürgen Brandes, whom he killed (or at least assisted to suicide) and then ate over several months. Like Meiwes, Johann wants a volunteer – he is into homicide, but not murder.
Moss is amused to discover the misunderstanding.
Johann is very disappointed, because he really wants a volunteer. This is exactly what happened with Armin Meiwes, who had interviewed several men before finally finding one who was actually willing to be killed and eaten. In one of the great lines from any cannibal show, Moss reflects
Roy is impressed with the story Moss tells at work next day.
Jen demands to know why Moss didn’t call the police, because
Moss is right; surprisingly it’s only illegal if it is done without consent in most jurisdictions. The legal problems arise with the slaughter before the eating. Then Roy decides he wants to consent, just so he can watch a pirated movie on Johann’s big-screen TV.
It’s a hilarious episode, particularly if you are an aficionado of cannibal studies. When the cops arrive, it’s not to arrest the cannibal, but to nab Roy and Moss for video piracy.
Cannibalism is usually classified as horror, but is often recategorised to comedy. The serial killers like Dahmer and Chikatilo are rarely considered humorous, although the light-hearted TV series Rake started off with its own interpretation of the Meiwes case. But the ‘savage’ with the grass skirt and the bone through his nose has been fair game for comedians since the earliest movies like Be My King (1928) and Windbag the Sailor (1936) as well as cartoons like Jungle Jitters and television shows like Gilligan’s Island. Cartoons are full of ‘savage’ cannibals, despite anthropologists having long since relinquished the colonial belief that all colonised peoples are people-eaters.
Cannibalism is useful as a humorous allegory for the limit of civil behaviour. When comedian Jon Stewart was asked by Late Show host Stephen Colbert to say something nice about President Donald Trump, he hesitated and eventually blurted “Donald Trump – is not – a cannibal”.
Colbert followed this up a year later suggesting Trump eats human flesh, but only “it’s very well done with some ketchup”. Essayist Katha Pollitt wrote in the subsequent election year that getting rid of Trump was so important that she would “vote for Joe Biden if he boiled babies and ate them”, a reference to the Sicilian tyrant Falaride who, Ateneo reported, “boiled babies and ate them” and even ate his own children, according to Aristotle. Cannibalism is an ideal hook for humour, because it is the extreme example of carnivorous virility and often encapsulates abuse of power.
What we find outrageous and therefore humorous about the Armin Meiwes case is not his appetite for human flesh, but the fact that his victim volunteered and even encouraged him to fulfil the agreement. But isn’t that what we all do when we cede our power to corrupt or inept leaders? Perhaps we are laughing at ourselves.
If you could somehow bring a dead serial killer back to life, let me ask you this:
What question would you ask him?
Why the hell would you bring him back to life??
This movie was called The Butchers in some markets and Death Factory in others, but didn’t exactly set the world alight in either case. The “plot” (sic and sick) concerns a bunch of misfits reciting a spell that returns to life some of the more notorious recent serial killers, who are featured in a bizarre museum called The Death Factory: Albert Fish, John Wayne Gacy, Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, and the Zodiac Killer. Wait – that doesn’t make sense? Well, enjoy the ride.
Before the ride, though, a flashback – Simon (Damien Puckler – Grimm) is having a nightmare about when he was a little boy and killed his father with a golf club. First we get to sit through the father killing a neighbour and Simon’s mother, in grisly detail. Yeah, Simon has serious issues. So did I after watching a woman have her teeth knocked out.
He’s on a bus with his brother (who reads Dante’s Inferno, as you do) and a bunch of misfits representing various stereotypes of America, heading for the Grand Canyon, but the bus breaks down and so they hoof it the Death Factory.
Meanwhile, a lawyer from Africa comes to visit the Factory, gets a guided tour of the killers (for the sake of the audience rather than him I rather think) and sees the vials of blood collected from them (how the hell did they get blood from Jack the Ripper?) and then kills the owner.
He has a big antique book, which we just know is going to be full of magic spells. The Goth couple from the bus find it and recite the spell of resurrection (you know, just for fun), and all hell breaks loose. No, really, it’s all a Satanic plot. Say the words, and the drops of blood form columns of fire and the dead butchers are resurrected.
But keep your disbelief suspended – it gets worse. When they get killed, they return to dust and smoke and enter the one who killed them. Confused? So were the writers I fear.
Of course, no slasher film is complete without the impending victims arriving from a broken-down vehicle at a sinister and run-down gas station / diner.
But the interest in this script is not so much in the bus passengers but the six born again killers who stalk them. From the point of view of a cannibalism blog, we only really care about four of them (the cannibals) and there are some real plot problems here. For a start, Albert Fish was ostensibly a harmless old man, unless you were a young child (he used to kidnap children, flog them, murder them and eat them), but he was clearly not up to a fist fight, unless you were under eight years old. Here is the movie Fish, and the real one. Not a bad likeness, but a scary monster?
Jack the Ripper was never identified (nor was Zodiac come to that) so this one wears an old person mask and talks with an English accent. But we have a revelation when Jack takes off the mask! Yes, Jack the Ripper turns out to be a lesbian, who finds out what little girls are made of (with the help of a cut-throat razor). Well, glad they sorted out that mystery anyway. Any clues on who killed JFK while you’re there?
Ed Gein was technically not even a serial killer since he only killed a couple of people, preferring to source his body parts from gravesites, and he was also pretty decrepit, an unlikely partner for hand-to-hand combat. Not even trying for a likeness here – just a scary Fred Flinstone.
That leaves Jeffrey Dahmer who was certainly a serial killer, but his M.O. was to drug his victims then drill holes in their heads when they were unconscious, hoping thereby to keep them around as zombie boyfriends. So, Dahmer was a lover, not a fighter.
Dahmer does, however, have the best line in the movie; after biting one dude:
“33% of Caucasians are A positive… I prefer A negative.”
Another great line is when Simon and the bible thumping lady find a series of pentagrams and vials of serial killer blood (curiouser and curiouser). She has some expertise here, which turns out to be as useless as it sounds:
“I wrote a paper on the psychological dysfunction of fanatical religious behaviour. At Emory.”
But most of the dialog consists of people saying to other people “stay here, I’ll go check it out.” You just know that’s not going to end well. Several times (yawn).
This is a pretty awful movie, garnering a handsome 12% on Rotten Tomatoes. If you like gore, that is well done and you might enjoy it, if you can get past all the metaphysical nonsense of pentagrams and life force transfers. If, however, you are a student of cannibalism, you will be mystified by their portrayals of these murderers. Have these people never heard of Wikipedia?
More importantly, how did they decide on these six as the world’s worst serial killers, and why were four of them (67%) best known for their cannibalistic behaviour? Our fear of death is notorious – watch a group of people flee from a loud noise like a flock of pigeons. The primal part of our brain, like that of the pigeon, takes over when survival seems to be at issue. Cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker argued that our terror of death is the basic motivation of human behaviour.
But the enormous interest in cannibalism indicates that there is something even more terrifying than dying: being eaten. Dramatic headlines announce the victim of the latest shark or crocodile attack, while meanwhile hundreds die unremarked, in more mundane incidents taking place all around them. We build mausoleums or place immense marble slabs over our graves to keep out marauders, we pour chemicals into the veins of our corpses to preserve them from worms and bacteria. The worst terror, though, is incorporation into the body of another human. Theologians write learned pieces on God’s options for restoring the body on the day of judgement; if we have been absorbed into another body, to whom would the restored flesh belong? Ed Gein is included in the canon of cannibals not for the numbers he killed but because he used the body parts to make furniture and lampshades.
Cannibalism feeds our darkest fears – that we are not made in the image of God (however that is interpreted) but that we are edible animals, no different to the millions of other animals we slaughter every day: for their flesh like Dahmer and Fish, for their skins and bones like Gein, or just to see what’s inside, like Jack.
Andres Filomeno Mendoza Celis, 72, was arrested on Saturday evening, 15 May 2021, in his home in Calle Margaritas, in the Mexican municipality of Atizapan de Zaragoza. Detectives arrived at Mendoza’s home to interview him about the suspicious disappearance of a woman, Reyna González, a mother of two children, only to find her mutilated remains on a table. González is said to have gone to the house of Mendoza, a family friend, to buy cellphone parts for her business.
Mendoza reportedly admitted to slaughtering around thirty women over the last twenty years. Most of their names were listed in a notebook found on the premises. According to Imagen Television Mexico, Mendoza confessed to eating his victims’ body parts; he recorded the murders and mutilations on 25 videotapes. He allegedly peeled off his victim’s faces and scalps, the last one because she was “pretty”.
Bystanders watched as personnel from the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Mexico (FGJEM) came and went, carrying out excavations inside the house, looking for skeletal remains.
Investigators used sniffer dogs to locate human body parts; officers drilled through the flooring to recover the remains and hair of several other women. They also found women’s shoes, items of clothing and the voter identification cards of Flor Vizcaino, 38, who was last seen October 16, 2016 and Rubicela Castillo, 32, who was reported missing July 20, 2019.
According to the news site Televisa, the police found the skeletal remains of up to five people at the suspect’s house, as well as knives suspected of being used to kill and dismember the “victims.”
Local reports claim the suspect “could not bear the rejection of young and pretty women.” A young neighbour reported:
“He always bothered women, his gaze travelled over their bodies and fixed on their buttocks, legs and breasts… They always said he looked perverted. When they found him drunk on the street, they preferred to turn around. He drank too much and made them uncomfortable by comments he made to 30-40-year-old women.”
Mendoza is being held at the Tlalnepantla Penitentiary for the murder of Reyna González, whose remains were found at the property. Lead prosecutor for the Attorney General’s Office division, Dilcya García, said the evidence investigators were able to uncover and gather strongly indicates that they could be dealing with a cannibal “serial” killer.
Mendoza, like many modern, domestic cannibals, seemed a harmless citizen; he had been president of the council of citizen participation in the Municipal Government of Atizapán de Zaragoza. He had also been a butcher for many years, working in a slaughterhouse that prepared meat for human consumption in Tlalnepantla, so he knew how to cut skin and keep it in good condition. Well preserved, skinned faces were found, with the hair still attached.
Are there more such cases of cannibalistic murders happening now, or are authorities discovering cases which previously might never have been uncovered? In either case, there is a clear trend toward the innocuous neighbour, the seemingly bland citizen, being dragged off in cuffs, leaving behind mangled corpses missing portions of flesh. Very often, the perpetrator has been shown to have worked in a slaughterhouse. Eduard Seleznev, the “Arkhangelsk Cannibal”, worked in an abattoir, as did Sofia Zhukova, the ‘Granny Ripper.’ Alberto Sánchez Gómez lived next to a bullfighting ring. Watching other animals being sliced up into commodities must make it easier to do it to humans.
Whether you loved or hated (or anything in-between) Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it is widely acknowledged to be a seminal work in the history of slasher movies generally, and specifically of cannibal films. Total Film made it number one of the fifty greatest horror movies of all time (Psycho was number 6!) and Richard Zoglin of Timesaid that it set “a new standard for slasher films”. Ben Woodard called it “unambiguously the greatest horror film ever made.” That makes creating a sequel (or actually a prequel) all the more fraught!
Chainsaw was based partly on the real-life (real-death?) exploits of Ed Gein, the “Butcher of Plainfield”, who decorated his house with all sorts of furniture made of human bones and skin, but Gein had dug most of them up from graveyards. The man-monster from TCSM was Leatherface who wore a mask (well before the rest of us) and even made it himself (far more sustainable than the rest of us). It was, however, made of human skin, which you can’t get readily even on Etsy, and he sourced his raw materials from those travelling through his little corner of Texas, cutting them up with a large and noisy chainsaw, often bashing them on the head with a mallet first, as the more primitive slaughterhouses used to do to the cattle in their yards.
But why did he do that? We get some hints in the movie from his brother, the Hitchhiker, who makes it clear that the family had been “in meat” and worked in the local slaughterhouses, which had closed as industry fled the “fly-over” states. But a lot of people lost their jobs in the seventies, and most of them did not go out and buy chainsaws with murderous intent. So how did Leatherface get started? And whose idea was it to eat the victims?
Such questions have clearly been on the mind of TCSM fan Steve Merlo, who recently sat down for an interview with Bloody Disgusting about his intended feature film THE SAWYER MASSACRE, intended as a prequel to the 1974 classic.
The film has been crowdfunded through Indegogo (now closed unfortunately) but should have raised enough to see it released in about August 2022.
Here’s the plot from the Director:
While recovering from the loss of someone close, Jimmy’s friends bring him to the Texas countryside to escape city life. In need of supplies for their cabin, they head to a gas station where they are directed to an isolated farmhouse. The property is not as it seems. They find themselves hunted by the cannibalistic psychopath known as Leatherface.
Clearly, it follows the formula that was also seen in The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn, The Farm and loads of other slasher movies where humans are on the table instead of sitting around it. But, as Merlo says,
“It is our intent not to copy what the original did, but use it as influence in a stylistic way. Our film will have more blood and kills, but will still be very subtle in its delivery.”
The film is due for release in 2022, the date that appears in IMDB. The film also has a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page if you wish to follow its progress.