Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Les mémés cannibales (1988)

... aka: Rabid Grannies

Directed by:
Emmanuel Kervyn

Granny's serving up something special for dinner... YOU! Elderly, wealthy, borderline-senile spinster siblings Victoria (Anne-Marie Fox) and Elizabeth (Danielle Daven) Remington are turning 90-something and have decided to throw a weekend birthday party at their secluded mansion to celebrate. Many relatives - cousins, nieces and nephews mostly - have been invited and they're all so ridiculously greedy, snobby and unpleasant the cook (Paule Herreman) likens them to vultures, parasites and even "maggot-infested rotting flesh." Everyone shows up on a stormy weekend to try to make a good case for them being generously remembered in the obligatory upcoming will (these old bats can't live forever, right?), but all the backstabbing and bickering must briefly be put on the back burner when a creepy old woman arrives at the front gate to deliver a mysterious package from bitter no-show nephew Christopher. You see, Christopher has been disowned and written out of the will for being the leader of a Satanic cult... and if you think he's trying to make amends for his evil ways with a nice gift, you'd be mistaken.

After dinner, the matriarchs of the clan open their present and inside is an old, empty wooden box. Some smoke rolls out of it, contaminates their wine and quickly transforms that genteel geriatrics into bald-domed, razor-clawed mutant cannibalistic killers; one of whom immediately dislocates her jaw wide enough to bite off a head in just one chomp at the dinner table. Everyone else scurries around the house looking for a place to hide as the newly-transformed demons hunt them down and kill them one by one. The meek maid (Patricia Davia) is thrown through a window, a head is twisted around backwards, a woman is smashed against a metal gate with a car, a child has their leg ripped off and thrown down a flight of stairs, an eye gets poked out with a cross, fingers and legs are hacked off and sometimes eaten and someone's even conned into committing suicide. Mixed in with all the gore is a lot of comedy (like one of the 'grannies' donning a suit of armor to protect herself from machine gun fire!) and even some social satire.

The characters are a varied and pretty amusing group and are made even funnier via stuffy British dubbing. There's fat factory owner Fred (Guy Van Riet) and his new wife Jessica (Françoise Lamoureux), a wanna-be opera singer he plucked out of a seedy nightclub and is thirty years his junior. Then there's unhappily married couple Helen (Catherine Aymerie) and John (Elie Lison) and their two obnoxious kids, Gilbert (Richard Cotica) and Suzy (Caroline Braeckman). Middle-aged lesbian magazine editor Erika (Bobette Jouret) drags along her much younger girlfriend Rachel (Françoise Moens), who she's been "collaborating" with, and finds her opportunistic lover almost jumping ship for conceited Playboy Roger (Michel Lombet). Throw in arm's manufacturer Harvey (Jacques Mayar), who wouldn't mind if World War III broke out if it increased his sales, cowardly, hypocritical, child-hating priest Father Percival (Robert Du Bois), virginal, neurotic spinster Bertha
(Florine Elslande) and flustered butler / chauffeur Radu (Sébastien Radovitch) and the roster of victims is complete. It's quite the tasty menu and each character adds something special to the works.

Sure, the title is misleading as no one is rabid and there aren't even any grannies - though I guess 'Cannibal Mutant Demon Aunts' doesn't roll off the tongue quite as nicely - but this is enjoyable
nonetheless. The dialogue is often hilarious and it's done in such an over-the-top / camp fashion and is so fast paced it's never boring. The biggest problem is that the American and British releases have been hacked to smithereens to reduce gore so it could acquire an R (or equivalent) rating. Numerous cuts are so bad that several scenes are nearly incomprehensible. Missing entirely are a scene in the basement when a leg is eaten, a scene where a guy has both of his legs hacked off with an axe and lots of additional gorier moments (like brains splattering on a wall, bitten-off finger stumps squirting blood and guts pouring out of a stomach and being eaten). None of those scenes have been restored in the U.S., even in the DVD currently being distributed by Troma, who offer some of this footage as a special feature but have never bothered to edit them back in. Troma's release is also too dark and in full screen so the actors are frequently partially off-screen when they're talking.

I found a widescreen version of the film on Youtube which has the English dub with Dutch subtitles and all of the missing gore. This version is actually about four minutes shorter than the Troma release (85 minutes vs. 89 minutes) because some of the dialogue has been removed. The following screens are only seen on the gorier version...

Either way, the fact this is entertaining enough in spite of the butcher job it received I suppose is a testament to the film itself. It's worth a look in either form.

★★ (cut) / ★★1/2 (uncut)

1 comment:

Tom...or Tom said...

This movie was oddly entertaining, even hacked to pieces, you're right.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...