Cannibal Girls is one of those cult titles that has always been more spo­ken about than seen when it comes to home video.  Despite being part of the sto­ried American International Pictures library, it slipped through the cracks and nev­er got a prop­er video release in the States (nei­ther VHS nor DVD).  Fans had to set­tle for dupey-look­ing copies tak­en from a medioc­re-look­ing Canadian video source.  Thankfully for them, things have changed with the release of Shout! Factory’s Cannibal Girls DVD.  Not only does it look good, it’s more infor­ma­tive than any­one would have dared dream.

The trans­fer is quite impres­sive, offer­ing a very detailed and sur­pris­ing­ly col­or­ful image that shows off just how good Robert Saad’s cin­e­matog­ra­phy is for such a low-bud­get quick­ie.  The disc sticks to the orig­i­nal mono mix for the sound­track but the view­er is offered the choice of two tracks: one with and one with­out the famous “warn­ing bell” gim­mick that A.I.P. added to the film.  Your Humble Reviewer lis­tened to the for­mer for this review and it sound­ed nice and clear for its age, with said warn­ing bell offer­ing a nice jolt when­ev­er it popped up (this option is rec­om­mend­ed for max­i­mum schlock enjoy­ment).

Better yet, the disc’s pro­duc­ers have seen fit to throw in some nice extras.  The first is an inter­view fea­turet­te with Ivan Reitman and Dan Goldberg.  Visually, it’s a sim­ple talk­ing-head affair but that’s okay but Reitman and Goldberg have an amaz­ing sto­ry to tell.  The duo reveals how they rebound­ed from a dif­fi­cult project by launch­ing into Cannibal Girls with­out a fin­ished script and shoot­ing it on cred­it.  It’s a pret­ty excit­ing tale, with the two weav­ing a film out of lit­tle more than deter­mi­na­tion while stay­ing just one step ahead of their cred­i­tors.  In fact, it’s more inter­est­ing than the film itself.

Reitman and Goldberg are to be cred­it­ed for also being bru­tal­ly hon­est about the qual­i­ty of Cannibal Girls and the mis­takes they made along the way.  That the­me is con­tin­ued in the sec­ond fea­turet­te, a Eugene Levy inter­view that is cheek­i­ly staged in front of a butcher shop.  Levy deploys his trade­mark dry wit to great effect as he dis­cuss­es his per­for­mance in unspar­ing terms, reveal­ing how his hap­py-go-lucky approach to the work back­fired on him.

The pack­age is round­ed out by a pair of trail­ers (the­atri­cal and t.v.) and two radio spots.  The trail­ers show off the hard-sell exploita­tion approach (word of warn­ing: they’re spoil­er-iffic so watch them after the film) that American International took with the film, mak­ing a nice William Castle-style pro­duc­tion out of the “warn­ing bell,” while the radio spots reveal how the film was paired with Raw Meat to cre­ate what was unde­ni­ably a mem­o­rable dou­ble bill.

In short, this is a fine disc that gives Cannibal Girls an unex­pect­ed­ly high-qual­i­ty treat­ment.  If you already like the film, the trans­fer makes it look bet­ter than you’ve prob­a­bly ever seen it look.  If you aren’t a fan, the inter­views make it well worth a look for any­one inter­est­ed in the lore of 1970’s schlock film­mak­ing.  In any event, it’s anoth­er feath­er in the cap of Shout! Factory, who seem to have picked up Anchor Bay’s mantle as the dig­i­tal sav­iors of vin­tage exploita­tion fare.

Cannibal Girls

Cannibal Girls

A young cou­ple spends the night in a restau­rant only to find out that it is occu­pied by three wom­en who hunger for human flesh in this this hor­ror film from the direc­tor of clas­sic com­e­dy, Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Stripes, Meatballs). This 1973 long sought-after cult movie was known for a “warn­ing bell” gim­mick, which rang in the­atres to warn the more squea­mish mem­bers of the audi­ence for impend­ing gory or erotic scenes.Stars: Eugene Levy (American Pie, Splash), Andrea Martin (SCTV, Black Christmas)Bonus Features:“Cannibal Guys” — A Conversation with Ivan Reitman and Daniel Goldberg“Meat Eugene!” – Richard Crouse Talks With Eugene LevyOriginal Trailers and Radio SpotsAlternate Audio Track Featuring “The Warning Bell”