The evolution of the cannibal film has been a slow one. From the campy beginnings of 2000 Maniacs, to the Italian exploitation romps of the 70’s and 80’s such as Lenzi’s Eaten Alive (1980), and Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1980), full of stereotypes, sex and silly amounts of internal organs oozing out of folk’s bodies, they were always the wham, bam thank you ma’am, of the sub genre.
They didn’t need much plot, as much character development as a cardboard cut out, or even much sense, and in most cases they were for pure bargain basement, buckets of blood for your buck, style entertainment, and shock value. And they achieved exactly what they set out to do, they entertained, and they offended, and because they caused such controversy; it made them all the more memorable.
The 80’s and 90’s was far more tongue in cheek, aware of the charm of its predecessors outrageousness, while wanting to expand into more Americanised and hopefully less offensive (therefore less likely to be banned), plots such as Motel Hell, Blood Diner and the delightful Randy Quaid (yeah, that guy) vehicle Parents, that managed to be cheesy enough to be entertain viewers, and blood spattered enough to titillate the fans.In the mean time, world cinema was quietly emerging with a new breed of pervy people eaters with cleverly crafted gems such as Delicatessen (1991), that were making audiences feel differently about the cannibal caper.
It was really the film industry outside of Hollywood that took the genre in a new, more cerebral, direction with the making of foreign language horrors such as Trouble Every Day (2001), Cruel Restaurant (2008) and the brilliantly bleak We Are What We Are (2010), though the rest of the industry churned out the same old Texas Chainsaw/2000 Maniacs mash-ups, and remake after remake, that it’s a rare long pig barbecue movie that stands out at all these days
Originating from an idea sparked by the Jonathan Swift essay entitled ‘A Modest Proposal’, which was a satire making the helpful suggestion that the poor could sell their infants as a rare little delicacy for the rich; which unfortunately in the following years was taken a little too literally, for certain enterprising gangs of individuals, from which the extremely loose basis of Butcher Boys was born.
The plot follows a young foursome on their way home from a birthday meal at a restaurant, when the obligatory slutty, wild child character of the group ends up getting them into some serious trouble, with the kind of gang that those South American prison gangs you’ve read about would be scrubbing the toilets with a toothbrush for in prison.
Everything you think you know about the film will end after about twenty minutes in, because after that the plot just goes completely bonkers. Think Lost Boys meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with a sprinkling of Hostel and you’re somewhere near where Butcher Boys is at. We got cross dressing, gangs, basic slasher format, rocket launchers and a pretty sweet little homage to Soylent Green smack bang in the middle, and you have got yourself one of the most, ridiculously camp, disgustingly gory, comic horrors I have seen in a very long time.
I’ve got to say it’s been taking a lot of heat on the internet, people are so quick to dismiss it as just another Chainsaw wannabe, but I think those people are missing the point, and maybe judging this scrappy little indie film without giving it much of a chance. It is nothing like I anticipated, and that is it’s greatest asset; surprising the audience at every turn, by throwing everything at them but the kitchen sink. Messy? Yeah. Terrible? No … and it really should be.
On paper, this film should suck, but I’ll be damned if this thing didn’t blow my little cotton socks off.
Yeah there’s some questionable camera work, and some wooden acting, but the special FX are a thing of beauty, with some exceptionally blood splattered, memorable scenes.
It’s a fun, well executed film, that I will be adding straight to my film library, for future watching. So give it a chance; as it deserves a lot more credit than it’s been given.
And hey, if nothing else, that’s one suggestion for solve the overpopulation problem …