Cannibal The Musical Screening – By Jordan Garren

 Jordan Garren and Blake MonahanYou know, I turned twenty-three years old a little over two weeks ago and the signs of aging are now becoming frighteningly obvious. Before I even typed out the first line of this article, I stopped dead, sat back in my comfy computer chair and thought: "When the hell did the show take place?!" I racked my brain for a few minutes, looked around for a flyer or even a scribbled note that would tell me when I saw Cannibal! The Musical on the big screen. Luckily, I have discovered the answer, (July 27th at midnight), but let me tell all of you readers that this was a big scare! As a writer and film fanatic, my memory is a very sacred thing, and forgetting this one minor thing sent a chill up my spine. But I must stand fast and be courageous and carry on with this article, because the world must know about… uh…. wait, what was I writing about again?

All right, with all jokes concerning my absent-mindedness aside, I did manage to make it to the last Troma screening in Scranton, PA at the usual time and place. This time around I managed to round up my buddy Chris who has always yearned to come to one of these shows, but has always been shot down due to his apparently unchangeable work schedules. (Damn it Chris! In the future grow a pair of balls and fight for your right to see bad movies on the big screen!) Also attending the show were my friend Ashley (former fellow video store clerk) and my girlfriend Tara. We arrived in Scranton about four or five hours before the movie, so we wandered around the Viewmont Mall, nearly stopped by the Playtime Boutique (an adult/porno outlet. We couldn’t go in because Chris and Ashley aren’t twenty-one yet. Drats!), and had some delicious Chinese food for dinner.

Eventually we drove up to the theater but still had an hour to kill before we could get our tickets. (Yeah, I don’t get free tickets anymore! It’s a drag.) We wandered down the plaza to a gaming shop that appeared to be open, only to discover that an LAN party/lock-in was in progress. Though we were (unknowingly) trespassing, the owner was really cool and gave us a quick tour of his place. Afterwards, we thanked him and walked back up toward the theater when Chris suddenly got the urge to goof off in front of my digital camera! Moments later, Chris, Ashley, and I took turns posing in front of the huge eagle mural on the side of the building. Then Chris and I took things up a notch and did a "Charlie’s Angels-type" photo shoot in the parking lot. With all that out of our systems, the four of us went into the theater, got our tickets and prepared for a night of cannibalistic song and dance action!

Before I go into detail about the rest of the night’s festivities, I must get something off my chest. I love Blake to death and really appreciate that he keeps bringing all these cool movies to a theater that’s relatively close to my home. But I’m sort of disappointed that he doesn’t do these shows with the same amount of energy any more. Granted he commutes from Scranton to Tromaville… I mean, New York, every day, and has a pretty busy time at Troma HQ, but I’ve really been yearning for the olden days where there’d be tons of contests and other fun stuff before the movie began. Gone now are the horror movie trivia contests, forever lost is the "Scream Queen Competition," sorely missed are the hardcore guests that would come dressed up in weird costumes. With a little extra planning and a whole lot of energy drinks, I think Blake could get back on top again in no time. So Blake, if (or when) you’re reading this, I beseech you to please restore these events to their former glory!

Anyways, getting back to this recent show, after everyone took their seats (and after I got my photo with Blake), we were all treated to some behind the scenes footage of Lloyd Kaufman’s next feature length Troma film, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. We also got to see the first five minutes of the film and I have to say that this may be the most repulsive, offensive, and over the top Troma film yet. In the first five minutes alone, we’re treated to some hardcore dry-humping in a graveyard, a masturbating voyeur/axe-murderer, and a few other surprises that I don’t want to ruin. After that heavy duty dose of Troma-goodness, Cannibal! The Musical began to play. For the uninitiated, Cannibal! was made by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the creators of South Park) back when they were in college. For the most part, this film actually attempts to tell the true story of Alferd Packer, the only man ever convicted of cannibalism in the United States.

This comedic quasi-historical piece follows Alferd Packer’s journey from Utah to Colorado Territory and all the misadventures that he and his travel companions may have had along the way. (I’m sure they hit rough weather and had to eat each other, but I highly doubt that they ran into JAPANESE INDIANS and a "cyclops! Hahaha!) The highlights of the film are the musical numbers themselves ("The Snowman Song," "Ode to Leigh Anne," "The Trapper’s Song," "Shpadoinkle Day," and "Hang the Bastard" are my favorites.), but there’s plenty of sight gags and funny dialogue throughout to keep things moving. If you ever have the chance to check out this early feature film by those "South Park guys," please do so. It drags in a few places, but overall it’s a well made comedy and shows that these two college slackers actually had quite a bit of talent from the start. At about 2 AM, the film ended, so our small group headed back to Tara’s house to get some rest. The following day, Ashley, Chris, and myself shared our favorite moments of the previous evening as we drove back to the formerly flooded Hallstead, PA area.

Here’s a few highlights from that fateful night that I failed to already mention: About halfway through the movie, Chris passed out and took a nice long snooze, then woke up about twenty minutes before the end. When we brought up his mid-movie nap, he didn’t believe us, and probably still doesn’t. However, the biggest "holy sh*t" moment of that night was the speech given by the theater’s promotions manager, JW. Before anything was shown on the screen, JW gave his usual "see movies here speech" that some of us have come to expect/dread. This time though, JW played a cruel trick on everyone. After asking how many people saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest at the Endless Mountains Theater and seeing only three hands, he boldly stated that "This is it then! No more shows. Because none of you guys are helping to support this independent theater, we’re not doing any more of these shows." The entire audience was quiet, but I managed to pipe up and inquire if this all some radical reverse psychology. After a brief pause JW gave me his reply: "I hope I never really have to make this speech."

Everybody breathed a sigh of relief and most got a chuckle out of JW’s (some would say, cruel) prank, but a few people (namely Chris) were a bit miffed. There are a few other side stories I’m failing to mention, but I think I’ve covered all the important stuff so I guess I’ll wrap things up here. Despite the fact that these events have a lost a good chunk of their showmanship, the screening of Cannibal! The Musical was actually pretty successful. Though a lot of advertising wasn’t done, a good number of people showed up and everyone seemed to have a great time. The next show at the Endless Mountains Theater is supposed to be this month, and the movie of choice will be Tromeo and Juliet. There’s also been mention of a possible screening of Poultrygeist in late October as well, but nothing is set in concrete yet. To keep up to date on these events, visit www.endlessmountainstheatre.com and check for announcements in the Rogue Cinema Forums!