Screen cannibals -- A review of the best films that use cannibalism at a social metaphor

Eating Raoul

There aren’t many taboos left in the movies, but as the everyone’s-talking response to Lambs‘ Hannibal Lecter proves, cannibalism still prompts a fascinated disgust. It’s no surprise that the subject has been exploited for shock value in slasher flicks (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre); more intriguing is the number of seriously intended films that use cannibalism as a social metaphor. The more notable:

Soylent Green (1973)
It may be the food of favor in overpopulated 2022 Manhattan, but as Charlton Heston discovers, ”Soylent Green is people!” C+

Eating Raoul (1982)
Paul and Mary Bland stop at nothing to open a restaurant in Paul Bartel’s scabrous black comedy. A-

Sweeney Todd (1984)
Stephen Sondheim’s tale of a vengeful London barber and his meat-pie-making landlady is captured in all its dark tragedy in this videocassette version of the acclaimed Broadway musical. A+

Parents (1989)
Behind their sunny ’50s facade, suburbanites Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt are models of conspicuous consumption. B-

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1990)
In Peter Greenaway’s arty, controversial tapestry, thief Michael Gambon’s misdeeds come back to him on a plate. B+

Eating Raoul
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