40. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Director: Karyn Kusama
Stars: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody
Thanks to a Satanic ritual gone wrong, former high-school cheerleader Jennifer Check is a literal man-eater, forced to consume human flesh in order to stay alive. She limits her diet to horny classmates, mostly because she’s so hot that they don’t think twice about traveling to dark, secluded spots with her. However, unfortunately for them, she’s the only one getting lucky.
For all its flaws, lapses in good judgment and good taste, Jennifer’s Body is a movie that gets it. Playing with the notion of the hot chick as a man-eater, and reminding millions of teenage girls of the sexual power they may not even realize they have. It’s a feminist statement wrapped in gory violence and gratuitous glamour shots of its titular character. It’s a brisk, bloody mix of gory horror and high school comedy; Mean Girls Of Darkness or Army Of Heathers, to put it in movie studio pitch-speak.
39. Antropophagus (1980)
Director: Joe D’Amato
Stars: Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Margaret Mazzantini
Anthropophagus follows five tourists who visit an island which appears to be deserted, but suddenly their boat is attacked, their sailor has his head ripped off, and one of the tourists is kidnapped. That didn’t go well. While exploring the area, the other tourists discover a house where there’s a partially chewed up body, which isn’t a very good sign. They’re trapped on the island now with a mysterious, cannibalistic killer on the loose.
We have the good and the bad; there’s some stupid relationship drama thrown in there that we don’t care about, but the gore is pretty freaking insane. There’s a scene where the killer reaches up the dress of a pregnant woman, pulls out her unborn fetus, and eats it. Just…why? If you’re wondering about the murderer, the last act reveals he’s a guy whose family was shipwrecked here, and he was forced to consume his wife and kids for survival. He went crazy after that, but he apparently retained his hunger for human flesh. The guy’s death is probably one of the greatest in horror history: he’s stabbed in the stomach, his intestines fall out, and he proceeds to eat them. What a way to go out.
38. Warlock Moon (1973)
Director: Bill Herbert
Stars: Laurie Walters, Joe Spano, Edna MacAfee, Harry Bauer
Young lovers John and Jenny decide to go for a drive in the countryside one day when they happen upon the remains of a long-abandoned resort spa. After doing some exploring, they find that an elderly couple is still living in the crumbling building. They tell the youngsters that the resort was shut down long ago because it was the headquarters of a satanic cult that performed cannibalistic rituals on unsuspecting visitors, and then invite the pair to stay for dinner. Will John or Jenny make it back to civilization alive? Will anyone believe their story?
Warlock Moon strikes a unique chord by linking Satanism and cannibalism, bringing the iconic representation of a flesh-eating witch from a fairy tale into a modern environment where even a young college student could be menaced, and although the budget is very low, it’s one of those worthwhile tradeoffs where the lack of money brings out great creativity in the filmmakers. Released slightly before The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which apparently had director Tobe Hooper trembling with fear that another movie with a cannibal family was being released before his), this fun/dumb film has lots of great moments, and dull ones too for that matter. But if you get into the spirit of the film even the slow parts are endearing in their own special way.
37. Emanuelle And The Last Cannibals (1977)
Director: Joe D’Amato
Stars: Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Nieves Navarro, Donald O’Brien
Investigative reporter Emanuelle is working undercover in a mental hospital, armed with a camera concealed in a doll. She finds nothing newsworthy until a patient attacks a nurse and bites her breast almost completely off. This situation resolves itself by Emanuelle booking a ticket to the jungle in order to get a scoop on cannibals. She is accompanied by an anthropologist, a hunter and his sex crazed wife, a nun and a random blonde chick whose purposes seems to be throwing off her clothes every two minutes.
Released years before most of the jungle-based cannibal movies you know and love, Emanuelle And The Last Cannibals can be seen as being both an innovator of the sub-genre and a prime example of it, introducing many of the tropes of the sort – the assertion of truth, the untrustworthy companions, and others. Rather than juxtaposing the cannibal society against the civilized society to highlight the wickedness of the latter, the filmmakers choose to present the cannibals as true villains: wholly evil and in no way analogous to conventional society. But besides all that, for those who simply enjoy seedy exploitation, this is a flick that really delivers the goods.
36. Jungle Holocaust (1977)
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Stars: Massimo Foschi, Me Me Lai, Ivan Rassimov, Sheik Razak Shikur
Ruggero Deodato’s first foray into cannibal country (before his later, much sicker Cannibal Holocaust) is one of the finest examples of Mondo cinema, deftly juggling shocking violence with social commentary and still managing to be consistently entertaining. It’s not a film for the squeamish, but, then again, squeamish people don’t seem to frequent horror websites, so by all means, dig in!
Jungle Holocaust (aka Last Cannibal World) tells the story of an oil prospector named Robert Harper who, along with a couple others, lands in the middle of the jungle. Before you can say “what’s cooking,” Robert runs afoul of a cannibal tribe that proceeds to capture and humiliate him, which ranges from being stripped naked to having his penis fondled (seriously) to witnessing the fine delicacies of cannibalism. There are also assorted moments of rape, animal death, and hilariously dubbed voices as well. This is an Italian cannibal movie after all, what else would you expect?
35. Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Stars: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, Giovanni Lombardo, Cinzia De Carolis
Following the story of a Vietnam Vet who is bitten by a prisoner of war, Cannibal Apocalypse presents a widespread infection that forces individuals to crave the taste of human flesh. As you could probably imagine, the film is an absolute bloodbath, perhaps best remembered for the way in which it is accompanied by a strangely upbeat, almost funky, score and soundtrack.
Perhaps the most engaging film of director Antonio Margheriti’s exploitation era, Cannibal Apocalypse is one of the strongest pound-for-pound cannibal films of its time. Paired with Alexander Blonksteiner’s memorable score, some underrated performances and the perpetually immersive lens of cinematographer Fernando Arribas, Apocalypse feels elevated among many of its contemporaries, especially when considering the gorefest is set in an urban environment as opposed to a far-away jungle. Cannibal Apocalypse is less a play on the cannibal films, and more a play on the effects of the war in Vietnam, and consequently, is a horrific twist on Francis Ford Copploa’s classic Apocalypse Now.
34. Eaten Alive! (1980)
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Stars: Robert Kerman, Janet Agren, Me Me Lai, Paola Senatore, Mel Ferrer
A young woman teams up with an adventurer to find her missing sister in the jungles of New Guinea. They ultimately stumble upon a religious cult led by an unhinged preacher whom has located his commune in an area inhabited by cannibals.
While cannibalism takes center stage as the selling point of the film, Eaten Alive isn’t actually a cannibal movie at all. The cannibals are present merely to provide color, a sense of dread, and hopelessness for our protagonists. At its core this is a very loose re-telling of the classic Jonestown Massacre story, where in 1978 over 900 people committed mass suicide in the South American country of Guyana under the cult leadership of Jim Jones. Perhaps problematic to its purpose, Eaten Alive turns to be less re-telling and more exploitation by using the real life incidents as a basis to showcase some jungle sleaze. With that being said, if you love Italian splatter cinema, you won’t be disappointed.
33. Frightmare (1974)
Director: Pete Walker
Stars: Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith, Deborah Fairfax, Paul Greenwood
Frightmare (aka Cover Up) focuses on Jackie, a young woman left to care for her wayward teenage sister Debbie, and who struggles to cope. On top of her problems with Debbie’s nightly escapades and foul mouth, Jackie is also bound by a burden of family duty she can tell no one about. Her parents Dorothy and Edmund had once spent 15 years in a mental institution after it was discovered that mother Dorothy was using tarot readings as a lure for unsuspecting victims to be brutally murdered. When she ate their flesh, her poor, misguided husband Edmund helped her cover up her crimes out of blind love, seeing her as not responsible for her actions. And even though the two have since been declared sane and fit to return to the community, Jackie is not convinced Dorothy has changed her ways.
Frightmare is a very effective British chiller and may stand the test of time as director Pete Walker’s crowning glory. Props must also go to writer David McGillivray – a man who wrote so many Britsploitation classics with style and panache. And let’s also take time to appreciate the character of Dorthy, who is simply magnificent, especially when she is armed with a power drill!
32. C.H.U.D. (1984)
Director: Douglas Cheek
Stars: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Greist
Ah yes, C.H.U.D.. Beneath the asphalt and the concrete, Manhattan is honeycombed with thousands of miles of tunnels — an insanely complex maze of subways, sewer and water lines, gas and steam pipes and tunnels whose original purpose has long been forgotten. Whispers that “Something is down there” have been around since at least the 1930s, when The New York Times reported that a group of boys had pulled an eight-foot alligator out of a manhole before beating it to death with shovels. Nobody had been expecting that, that’s for sure, but it started people thinking. Over the decades that followed the stories grew and evolved and it was only inevitable that the speculative menagerie living under the streets of NYC would eventually come to include people who were no longer fit to live topside.
This brings us back to C.H.U.D. – which follows a race of mutant cannibals, made this way via radiation spillage, living under the streets of New York. And as silly as it undoubtedly is, C.H.U.D. remains a fun slice of Reagan-era monster madness that embodies more than a few of its era’s political and environmental fears.
31. Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
Director: Trey Parker
Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Dian Bachar, Toddy Walters
Cannibal! The Musical (originally known as Alferd Packer: The Musical) was directed, written, produced, co-scored by and starred Trey Parker before gaining fame with South Park alongside his buddy Matt Stone who also stars in and produced the film. It premiered in 1993 but was not released generally until 1996, when the folks at Troma picked it up and put their stamp of approval on it.
As subtle and elegant as its title, Cannibal! The Musical is what you might expect to see if South Park did a parody of Hannibal. Gleeful chorus numbers about hangings and decomposition, unbridled equine eroticism – and a modest serving of cannibalism. As the story is inspired by the true case of Civil War veteran Alfred Packer who led a group of prospectors from Utah to Colorado and wound up eating some of them while starving in the mountains, you could say, “It’s funny ’cause it’s true.” If that crass remark offends you, so will this movie.