The Cannibal Man (1972)

La Semana del asesino (Week of the Killer) has no scenes of cannibalism in it, but hey, that title was catchy enough for international distribution. Now that the full version of this film is available from Severin*, people may see it beyond its lurid title and appearance on the section one video nasty list.

Instead, The Cannibal Man presents a journey into a place that few of us have experienced: the oppressive rule of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Estimates are difficult to put together, but Franco killed between 15,000 and 50,000 of his political opponents. His oppression also led to how the arts were treated, with a unitary national identity created at the expense of Spain’s cultural diversity. Women could not manage money, hold certain jobs or even open a bank account. And yet, in the words of geopolitics, Nixon referred to Franco as, “a loyal friend and ally of the United States” when the general died.

Basically, Spain was a real-life horror show and this film attempts to explain that pain through the life of a young butcher named Marcos who accidentally kills a cab driver. That murder sends him on a spiral as he has to start removing anyone who could potentially turn him in, from his girlfriend to eventually his family members, using his butcher shop to remove the evidence. Then the dogs come searching for the rotting human meat hidden in his bedroom.

Even the potential relationship that the protagonist discovers with another man who lives in the high caste high rises above the city won’t be enough to stop the drain at the bottom of this downward spiral. Franco’s censors saw to that.

*Yes, I realize Anchor Bay and Blue Underground also released the full cut, but the Severin one has “both the International and extended Spanish Version newly scanned from the original negatives for the first time ever.”

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