Color, 1971, 107 mins. 12 secs. / 98 mins. 26 secs.
Directed by Eloy de la Iglesia
Starring Vicente Parra, Eusebio Poncela, Emma Cohen
Code Red (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Subkultur (Blu-ray) (Germany RB HD), Divisa (Blu-ray) (Spain RB HD), Anchor Bay (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

A Cannibal Manbrutal and strangely Cannibal Manmelancholy film, Cannibal Man (or technically, The Cannibal Man) begins with humble cow butcher Marcos (Vicente Parra from Soft Skin on Black Silk) contentedly chomping away on a beefy sandwich and hanging out at a bar where a TV commercial proclaims "It's good because it's got meat!" Marcos hops into a cab along with his girlfriend (Cohen) but gets into a spat with the driver and kills him in a rage. He ignores her insistence that he go to the police and finally strangles her just to keep her quiet. Pretty soon almost everyone he knows stumbles across evidence of the crimes and has to be added to the rising body count, with the unfortunate result that Marcos' apartment becomes awfully crowded. Meanwhile his sympathetic gay neighbor (early Pedro Almodóvar regular Eusebio Poncela) observes everything from afar and decides to become involved in an unexpected way.

One of Spain's more notorious cinematic exports, Cannibal Man was originally titled La semana del asesino (or The Week of the Murderer, since he kills once a day) and circulated in Europe and some reissue markets under a more subtle title, Apartment on the 13th Floor. Director Eloy de la Iglesia was one Cannibal Manof the major directors to push Spanish censorship boundaries with this film and a number of powerful gay-oriented films like El Diputado, Los placeres ocultos, El Sacerdote, and the unforgettable Colegas, Cannibal Manall of which eventually found an audience on VHS. While Cannibal Man certainly doesn't skimp on the red stuff, it's ultimately not as graphic as the late '70s splatter epics and quite different from the flamboyant bloodletting of Italian thrillers around the same time. The fetid atmosphere of decay and frustration is overpowering, with the most horrific use of a single apartment since Roman Polanski's Repulsion. The social implications of a Spanish society which ultimately cannibalizes itself are hardly subtle, but it's this kind of treatment that allowed directors like Iglesia, Jess Franco, and many others to flourish under their new government. Somehow the film ended up on the UK's Video Nasties list back in the '80s, indicating that, as with many other targeted titles, the title was more responsible for its persecution than anything else.

Anchor Bay's DVD from the early days in 2000 looked fine under the circumstances, albeit pretty drab and muddy in keeping with the usual appearance of the film, while the dubbed English audio (why?) isn't too harsh on the ears. A Spanish print would have been preferable, but presumably this is all the distributor, Atlas, was willing to offer at the time. The disc also includes a nondescript English-language theatrical trailer (and yes, it did briefly play US movie houses in the early '70s). Phil Hardy's Aurum Encyclopedia of Horror reports an original running time of 120 minutes, but this could be misinformation passed on by the original press materials. Blue Underground later reissued the exact same presentation on DVD in 2007. Cannibal Man

Cannibal ManThe first Blu-ray of this film appeared in 2015 from German label Subkultur under the Cannibal Man title, featuring a gorgeous HD restoration of the film that completely stomps on its SD predecessors. Colors are much richer than before, detail is increases drastically, and the visuals now have an aesthetic impact that was impossible to appreciate before; it's a really beautifully shot film at times. (Incidentally, the slaughterhouse footage seen at the start of the English-dubbed export prints has been moved back to its more logical place in the Spanish cut about thirteen minutes in.) The English dub is included along with a German dub, in DTS-HD MA or Dolby Digital mono options. Also included are the English and German trailers as well as a hefty batch of deleted scenes (11 mins.), many of which accentuate Marco's daily life (including a long scene with his boss) and elaborate on the local environment with some additional tavern interaction. An extra bit also involves one victim's dad looking for his missing daughter, which spackles over one of the more obvious plot holes. A Spanish Blu-ray released in 2016 featured an interesting new wrinkle by adding almost all of the deleted scenes back into the film, which can be played either entirely in Spanish (with optional English subtitles) or the English dub with Spanish inserts for the extra footage. Also included as "Planos Cannibal Maneliminados" (1m35s) is a ragged sample of the remaining excised silent footage including an extended alternate ending and some extra softcore kissing and smooching. The disc Cannibal Manrounds out with galleries, the English trailer, and Spanish filmographies and artistic and technical notes.

Released in 2018 by Code Red and distributed by Ronin Flix and (internationally only until 2/28/18) Diabolik, the film's American Blu-ray debut features the Apartment on the 13th Floor title with cover art culled from the Hallmark Releasing reissue poster. Image quality is comparable to the German and Spanish versions, which means it also looks superb. Audio-wise this continues the film's weird streak of having its Spanish track unavailable in the U.S., as it only features the standard English dub (DTS-HD MA) and reverts to Spanish with English subtitles for the deleted scenes which, in keeping with the Spanish Blu-ray, have been integrated back into the feature itself to create that extended cut. Image quality appears to be identical across the board in terms of color timing, framing, and grain resolution. Trailers are also included for the main feature, Jungle Holocaust, The Mountain of the Cannibal God, and Cut and Run.

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Reviewed on February 4, 2018.