MVD Visual // 2006 // 120 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // December 5th, 2008
You are what you eat...
Ladies and gentlemen, you can relax: Blu-ray is here to stay. I know there's been some worry, what with the format war and all, but I can tell you for certain that Blu-ray isn't going anywhere. How do I know? Well, if someone out there could release a rock-bottom budget film like Cannibal Taboo on Blu-ray expecting to make money, then the format's future is assured.
Cannibal Taboo tells the story of Janet (Ashlie Rhey, Witchcraft 7: Judgement Hour), a young woman raised in the wilds of Africa who is rescued by explorer Cliff Hendricks. When Cliff contracts a rare blood disease, Janet must leave her jungle ways to care for her husband and their four children. The bulk of the plot occurs when the youngest son, Paul, is about to have his twenty-first birthday. His brother Luke, a successful professor, returns for the celebration. However, things are not so simple in the Hendricks household, since fourth sibling Matthew disappeared on his twenty-first. Moreover, Paul and his sister have an incestuous relationship, and Janet is harboring a terrible secret.
Cannibal Taboo does a number of things right. First, it's not shy about nudity. Women of a number of ages and levels of surgical enhancement shuck their clothes for the camera. The erotic moments don't fly fast and thick, but they come up often enough to keep interest from flagging. The second thing the film does right is offer up cannibalism as the reason for family dysfunction. This gives the plot a bit of humor and gives the film somewhere to go. The script, unlike many films of this caliber, contains some genuinely funny lines. Not just lines you laugh at because they're bad, but lines which are funny in their own right. Finally, the level of acting on display here is much higher than a title like Cannibal Taboo would suggest. Yes, there are some painfully bad moments, but there were some surprisingly effective ones as well.
Cannibal Taboo does, however, suffer from a major flaw: it's way, way too long. If the film had been 80 instead of 120 minutes long, it would have been a much better picture. As it is, the plot meanders, never quite making the point clear until over an hour into the movie. That might be fine in an art-house flick, but for a cannibal film, such a delay is dangerous. The trimmable material includes introspective moments with the protagonist, as well as some of the film's subplots. There's nothing wrong with them per se, but cannibal fans want to get to the main course, so to speak.
I've heard much about the quality of Blu-ray video, but I figured with Cannibal Taboo it was garbage in, garbage out. Not quite. For the most part the video is as bad as you'd expect from a low-budget cannibal film (including 1x1 squares of macroblocking on my 56-inch TV during the opening credits). However, there are moments where a jump in quality can be seen. Extra detail occasionally popped up, especially in facial features. I wouldn't pay any extra for the Blu-ray version of the film, but it does look better than a DVD could. The audio, however, does not benefit from extra resolution. This is a flat stereo mix that doesn't have any problems like hiss or distortion, but isn't going to give the sound system a workout. The main extra is a 15-minute making-of featurette that is mainly comprised of on-set interviews and footage. It was nice to see that the actors had a sense of humor about the film, and there's some extra nudity for fans of the film's females. There's also a scan of a magazine article on the film, as well as the trailer and filmographies of the people responsible for the flick.
Cannibal Taboo isn't a good movie, but it's likely to please fans in its demographic. With a steady hand on the fast-forward button, Cannibal Taboo delivers good gore, lots of nudity, and a decent hi-def presentation for the budget. Obviously the Taboo of the title might turn some off, but it's really not as heavily featured as I would have expected.
Cannibal Taboo is guilty of being a run-of-the-mill kinky cannibal feature. The court recommends probation.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Unrated
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