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.