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Cannibal! the Musical

Executive producers, Andrew Kemler, Kelly, Jason McHugh, Hardin.

Executive producers, Andrew Kemler, Kelly, Jason McHugh, Hardin.

Directed, written by Trey Parker. Camera (color), Robert Muratore, Chris Graves; editor, Ian Hardin; music, Rich Sanders; lyrics, Parker; production designer, Dave Hedge. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 13, 1999. Running time: 92 MIN.

With: Juan Schwartz, Toddy Walters, Ian Hardin, Jason McHugh, Matt Stone, Jon Hegel, Dian Bachar, Robert Muratore, Andy Kemler, Ted Henwood.

Audiences predisposed to clever parody with a goofy gore subtext will respond with helpless, appreciative laughter as Trey Parker and co-conspirators prove that many time-honored conventions of the American musical theater — sappy ballads, bursting into song-and-dance under duress and employing the most idiotic similes with a straight face — are just as strange as any episode of “South Park.” Deadpan venture, released straight to video Stateside well before Parker and Matt Stone hit paydirt with their animated series, is “Joke-lahoma!” for film and theater buffs everywhere who might enjoy a pitch-perfect sendup of hackneyed lyrics and irrationally joyous choreography.

Set in the Rockies, circa 1874, “Cannibal! The Musical” is bracketed by the suspense of an innocent man about to be hanged for eating his fellow miners, and features scripter-helmer-lyricist Parker, using the stage name Juan Schwartz. Pic, which benefits from frontier-style sets and dramatic wilderness settings, is defiantly silly yet borderline profound. Lyrics are hilarious, the melodies — particularly the main theme — genuinely catchy. Human-potential movement sensibilities grafted onto frontier settings and a martial-arts-practicing tribe of Indians played by Asians are among the conceptual highlights.

Cannibal! the Musical

(MUSICAL PARODY)

Production: A Troma Team release of a Lloyd Kaufman/Michael Herz presentation of an Avenging Conscience production. (International sales: Troma Entertainment, N.Y.) Produced by Alexandra Kelly, Ian Hardin, Jason McHugh, Matt Stone, Trey Parker.

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