Here's one I'd just about given up on seeing an official DVD release for, let alone a blu-ray ...

Filmed over a couple of years in the very early 70s by Ivan Reitman (who went on to direct the likes of GHOSTBUSTERS and TWINS), this begins in excellent style with the bloody murder of an amorous couple on a snowy beach.

Welcome to Farnhamville, a quiet community where all of the locals seem a little peculiar. Into this strange, physically and aesthetically cold place drive young lovers Cliff (Eugene Levy, looking like a young Weird Al Yancovic) and Gloria (Andrea Martin). They're on a road trip vacation to wherever and, after some playful bickering over their whereabouts, their car breaks down ... necessitating a trip to the local mechanic.

As they reach the mechanic's workshop, Cliff and Gloria are oblivious to the fact that the locals are engaged in a dispute with a frantic father searching for his missing daughter.

Told it'll take a good while to fix their vehicle, our randy pair of loved-up hippies decide to find somewhere in town to stay overnight.

Their first port of call is kindly Mrs Wainwright (May Jarvis) at a nearby hotel. As she shows them to their room, she regales them with the tale of three pretty women who lived in a restaurant on the edge of town ... and liked nothing better than to snack on passers-by. This gives cause for an enjoyable if disjointed flashback, involving three male travellers who play Monopoly, each attempt to woo one of the girls - and all meet a sticky fate as a result.

Cliff and Gloria are hooked when they learn that said restaurant has now been converted into a tourist attraction where you can go for a meal and learn more about its gory history. Inevitably, they decide to do just that.

Greeted by the enigmatic Reverend (Ronald Ulrich), they think nothing of the fact that they are the only diners (in what looks like someone's living room) or that the only thing on the menu is meat - until they hear a scream from the kitchen. The Reverend, a bearded oddball with a piercing stare and top hat, assures them that all is okay: a madman is roaming in the area and one of the cooks incorrectly thought she'd seen him at the kitchen window.

With the threat of a psychopath lurking outdoors, the couple agree to the Reverend's offer of a room for the night ...

CANNIBAL GIRLS is slow to start, despite boasting regular set-pieces. This is because the dialogue is sporadic and doesn't always serve to progress events. Apparently a lot of it was improvised on the set, which explains a great deal.

Still, things do pick up and the film works well with its snowbound locations and simple storyline (despite clumsy efforts to complicate the latter with supernatural leanings and an ill-advised dream sequence later into proceedings).

Reitman's second feature effort, after 1971's more straightforward comedy FOXY LADY (also co-starring Levy and Martin), CANNIBAL GIRLS is also rather shoddily edited. This results in a lot of seemingly nonsensical footage that occurs earlier which only makes sense upon a second viewing (the servant Bunker ["as himself", per the closing credits] getting maltreated during the opening titles etc).

What's good though is that the film does evoke a certain trashy, B-movie atmosphere and the horror sequences - while undeniably mild despite minor gore and the occasional flash of bare breasts - are well conceived. The humour, thankfully, is tempered throughout: in terms of tone, it's not dissimilar to the superior DERANGED.

As a point of curio, it's strange to see Martin and especially Levy (AMERICAN PIE) in such early, pre-fame roles. And it's also odd to conceive that this was what Reitman was doing a decade or so before he struck gold with GHOSTBUSTERS.

Filmswelike have done a good job with this blu-ray debut of Reitman's obscure no-budget curiosity.

Presented in 1080p as an MPEG-4 AVC file, CANNIBAL GIRLS looks as good as you could realistically hope for an ultra-cheapie production circa 1972 to. Whilst not the most colourful or bright of presentations to begin with, the picture here is satisfyingly clean and detailed while exhibiting just the right amount of natural grain throughout. Blacks are reasonable and colours - when the film exploits them - are sufficiently vibrant.

Interiors are occasionally soft. Exterior scenes and close-ups fare the best in what is an overall surprisingly solid High Definition rendering of this long-lost film.

The film is presented in a 16x9-enhanced 1.85:1 aspect ratio. I understand Shout! Factory's region 1 DVD presents the film in anamorphic 1.78:1. I haven't seen that to compare and I'm no expert regarding how this film was shot, but the IMDb lists it as being shot in 1.85:1 and it looks correctly framed - so I'm happy.

English mono audio is provided in Tru-HD. It's not a bad mix but does get a little quiet at times, with some dialogue becoming infrequently muffled. At a guess I'd suggest that this is a flaw of the film's original audio recording. It's not a problem.

Extras begin with an alternative audio option allowing us to watch the film complete with the original theatrical "warning bell" gimmick that was introduced in America by distributors AIP. It works better than I'd thought, and I ended preferring this track to the normal one. In truth, the bell is more of a honk and it's used pretty infrequently (to warn of an upcoming gore scene). This is also presented in mono Tru-HD.

A 2-minute theatrical trailer is good and also makes reference to the bells. It comes in HD, and 16x9 enhanced.

Next up are interviews with Levy, Reitman and producer Daniel Goldberg.

Levy's is a 19-minute featurette where film critic Richard Crouse quizzes him while they both stand in a butcher's shop. It's weird, but engaging. Levy is unexpectedly serious and sincere.

Joe Medjuck moderates off-screen as Reitman and Goldberg chat amiably about the film's growth process in the following 26-minute featurette. It's excellent stuff.

Finally we're treated to Reitman's debut film, a 22-minute effort from 1968 called ORIENTATION which he made with Goldberg's assistance. This is a tortuous spoof of student films from the era and is not my cup of tea at all: I'm being kind by saying it's in colour, has English mono audio (amusingly post-dubbed) and a grainy windowboxed 1.33:1 presentation. The less I comment on the mock-TV documentary style or the poor comedy, the better. But, it's a belter of a relic to unearth as an extra regardless.

CANNIBAL GIRLS is very low-budget, quite amateurish in its execution and unevenly paced. But it's quirky from beginning to end, has that undeniable "70s grindhouse" charm about it and is chock-full of unusual characters either being bad or meeting bad ends.

Filmswelike have done an excellent job bringing this cult also-ran to blu-ray. They've also released it on DVD (including a marvellous "gift set" including a cleaver and apron!). For more info, visit

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Filmswelove
Region A - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review