Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: Ravenous

I remember Ravenous being shown in Finland at some film festival in 1999 or 2000, but it was deemed X-rated and the distributor backed down. The film was never shown commercially in Finnish theaters, it was only released in VHS with five minutes of gore cut away, and then in 2005 in television. I don't know whether the TV version was intact. I watched the old VHS I'd bought at some point, but failed to watch until now. It was released as Erämaa syö miestä ("The Desert Eats Up the Man" or some such nonsense).

Ravenous follows the story of Alferd Packer (I believe it's supposed to be written that way) and the pack he was leading into the wild that gets lost and has to resort to cannibalism. Ravenous takes the storyline a step further developing it into a serial killer story, with lots of satiric overtones and black humour.

And at times it works very well. The first half of the story is intriguing, but then it gets bogged down by some implausible plot twists. They keep the story moving, however. The ending is a bit over-the-top, but there's still some funny stuff in there. The feel for human flesh never goes away.

I realize I haven't seen the film in its full gory, but it still comes recommended by me. There's one interesting point still: the film was directed by Antonia Bird. There aren't that many female directors out there making westerns, let alone gory horror westerns. Bird was however only appointed director of Ravenous after the original director took off. Her earlier film Priest was excellent, however. I see she died last year. Did Ravenous destroy her career? She never made another feature film. (Then again she did films for TV, and I was told she herself said she preferred working for television.)

Also of merit is also the soundtrack by Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn (of the Blur fame). It's often contradictory to the image we see on the screen, but that makes an interesting effect.

And oh, here's my review (amongst others) of an earlier film based on the same Alferd Packer incident. Ravenous is 1,000,000 times better.

More Overlooked Movies here (whenever Todd gets the chance).

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