Friday, August 9, 2013


Back in the positively medeveal days of analog, pre-youtube, pre-dvd, pre-ipod, pre-iphone, there existed an underground "network" of tape traders.  The way the system generally worked was that lists of t.v. shows and out of print/rare movies were passed around via old school bulletin boards (computer or real), and if you saw something that you liked/wanted/needed, you would respond to the ad with YOUR list.

Then if you had something that the person wanted, they would record the program you wanted, and you would meet up (or via mail) would exchange tapes.  If you developed a relationship with several people you could fill the holes in your "programming schedule."  Keep in mind there was no home video market for television programs till midway through the launch of the dvd standard.  Pretty much nobody saw much, if any value,  of re-runs of t.v. shows long since vanquished from the airwaves.

This Mr. Show sketch sums up what it was like back then.

During this ancient time there was one tape that made the rounds more than the others, and in a way, it was spread with an enthusiastic zeal that bordered on prosthelytizing.  I remember having a conversation with a local video store owner that could never keep it on the shelf; it was always out on rental.  We both agreed that the creators of this movie in question were going to go far in Hollywood.

This movie had the two taglines of:
"All Singing! All Dancing! All Flesh Eating!"
"In the tradition of Friday the 13th Part 2... and Oklahoma comes the first intelligent movie about cannibalism!"

This movie was: CANNIBAL: THE MUSICAL       

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone first created a short animated film called "Santa vs. Frosty" in 1992 while at the University of Colorado.
In 1995, after seeing the Jesus vs. Frosty film, Fox executive Brian Graden paid Stone and Parker $2,000 USD to make another animated short as a video Christmas card that he could send to friends. In turn, the duo created Jesus vs. Santa.  
Graden initially distributed the video to eighty friends in December 1995. After months' being passed around on bootleg video and the pre-youtube Internet, the film caught the attention of cable network Comedy Central, which hired the pair to develop the South Park series, which premiered in the United States with "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe" on August 13, 1997.

But inbetween all that in 1995, Parker and Stone caught the eye of comedy writer/producer/director David Zucker, who commissioned a behind the scenes welcome video to be directed by Parker and Stone for Universal pictures which had just been purchased by beverage magnate Seagrams.  This was a video meant for internal use only, and no official copy has surfaced.
What is amazing about this video is that Parker and Stone put it together literally on the fly without a script. Here we had two guys that had dropped out of film school to make their own movies, and were suddenly directing STEVEN SPIELBERG in a short lampooning his own movie (Jaws), as well as directing the hottest stars at the time in a internal promotional video satirizing the "duck and cover" civil defense videos of the 50's and 60's.

But right before that in late 1993, Parker and Stone put together an impressive student film; "Cannibal: The Musical, which showed all of their talents.

At first one might balk at anything titled "Cannibal: the Musical."  Horror fans might not like musicals, and fans of musicals probably would certainly not like anything about cannibalism.  But amazingly, Parker and Stone pull off both so successfully that I've had people I've shown the movie to that dislike both horror and musicals that LOVE Cannibal: the Musical.

The story is simple: It is loosely based on the true story of Alferd Packer and the sordid details of the trip from Utah to Colorado that left his five fellow travelers dead and partially eaten. Trey Parker (credited as Juan Schwartz) stars as Alfred Packer, with frequent collaborators Stone, Dian Bachar, and others playing the supporting roles.

The violence is, of course, over the top and humorous, but really the whole cannibal part is a minor part of the story.  It's the MUSIC that what shines in this musical.  The songs are diabolically idiotic with lyrics like:

The sky is blue and all the leaves are green. 
The sun's as warm as a baked potato. 
I think I know precisely what I mean, 
When I say it's a shpadoinkle day.
And as I ride with my girl, 
She's my best friend in the whole world! 
We'll move along, set our goals high 
With eyes full of hope as we aim for the...
Sky is blue and all the leaves are green. 
My heart's as full as a baked potato. 
I think I know precisely what I mean, 
When I say it's a shpadoinkle day! 
When I say it's a happy-go-moinkaly lucky shpadoinklely...dayyyyyy.

My favorite scenes in the movie involve the Japanese masquerading as Indians.  "Look at allll those teepees.  That's because...we're Indians."
Parker and Stone would go on to be nominated for the Golden Globe for best Musical for their "South Park: The Movie" soundtrack, only to be robbed by Phil Collins.  Fortunately, they righted this wrong in the universe by addressing this robbery on the show itself.
Cannibal did travel the country for a while popping up at film festivals and student screenings.  Cannibal lives on via school plays and local theater productions.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone would go on to win NINE Tony awards for their Mormon musical.
But to most fans of South Park, Cannibal is the missing Rosetta stone and progenitor that first showcased everything awesome about Trey Parker and Matt Stone's genius.

Cannibal: The Musical is FREE to watch (as are ALL 155 of Troma's movies) on Youtube.

Here is the totally free and legal version.

Please watch full screen on Youtube for best quality.

Lastly, as a bonus, here's the first sketch David Cross ever starred in on "The Ben Stiller Show."  It is cannibal themed, and I'll leave it at that. (Watch on TinyPic)

Original Video - More videos at TinyPic

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