Horror…music…comedy. Not quite. None of these three films about singing flesh and blood eaters manages to hit the mark on all three counts.
CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL (1993)
Before South Park became a hit, Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote this musical, which Parker stars in and directs. It’s basically a fictionalized version of a true story of an American expedition that had to resort to cannibalism to survive a brutal winter.
The opening scene in the woods is presented in stark white with just some red accents…especially the blood. The campy, gory cannibalism sure sets your hopes high, but it’s all downhill from there. Aside from this not being a horror film, the South Park guys’ material definitely got funnier by the end of the decade.
Trey is the lone survivor of the cannibalism. While in jail, he tells a reporter the story of what happened. He and his men (including Choder Boy from Orgazmo) set out on their travels and are immediately warned by some creepy dude to turn back because they are doomed. Then they sing their way through forgettable songs—and the woods—as they are swept away by rapids, face off against Indians and hunters, have a Brokeback Mountain moment, build a snowman (and sing a song about it decades before Frozen thought of the idea), argue over how they’re going to stay alive, and finally, argue over eating each other—especially the idea of eating butt (okay, that part is funny).
Eventually, there’s some gore when one of the guys starts to lose his mind, and then we are returned to Trey’s execution and all the townsfolk singing and dancing their way through a song called “Hang the Bastard.”
Maybe if I’d seen this in the 90s when I was in my 20s, I would have thought this was hilarious and edgy, but nowadays, I wish I had spent the hour and a half—I don’t know, maybe re-watching From Justin to Kelly for the twelfth time.
ROCKABILLY VAMPIRE (1996)
Released by Troma, this low budget movie is grueling! A greaser sucks the blood of another dude in an alley. Then we meet our main girl, who works in a thrift shop and is writing a book arguing that Elvis is still alive.
A chunk of the movie involves her being annoyed by various forgettable characters at her apartment. Because she can’t pay her rent, she is forced to date the landlord’s sleazy son…who’s kind of hot and has a great package. See right side of diagram below.
She begins a relationship with the greaser vampire, who she thinks is Elvis (his casting is pretty dang good). There are a couple of romance montages set to rockabilly music—but not a single Elvis song, and the “rockabilly” vampire never sings or gyrates his pelvis!
Finally, he tells her he’s a vamp, so they go to see some flamboyant witch doctor dude, who totally steals the show, providing the only laughs in this entire drab and dreary film.
Tons more dialogue ensues to fill the running time until all the characters end up on the roof for a final confrontation and a happy ending. I could have watched From Just to Kelly twice by this point.
SONG OF THE DEAD (2005)
As bad as this one is, it’s the best of the bunch. It sticks to a traditional zombie movie narrative. There’s plenty of gore. The songs have a Rocky Horror style to them, with some Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar psychedelia thrown in. There’s a cemetery scene that pays homage to Night of the Living Dead. Reggie Bannister of Phantasm plays the (singing) President of the United States. The group of survivors ends up in a cabin, singing their way through silly dance numbers about patriotism, terrorism, and zombie slaying.
The zombies sing and dance—and actually look pretty creepy in the nighttime scenes. Plus, there’s a father/daughter story and a main girl.
Having said all that, I still had to put this all down in writing so I’ll have a way of remembering this movie tomorrow. It just starts to go on way too long once they get to the cabin.
For a list of horror musicals, check out my screamin’ & singin’ page.