Before Team America: World Police.
Before That’s My Bush!
Before South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
Before South Park.
Back in the college days, Trey Parker & Matt Stone had a film project. Based on a budget that would only afford to buy a weeks worth of McDonald’s and fill up the car to buy it through the drive-thru, Parker & Stone developed Alferd Packer: The Musical. This was changed to Cannibal! The Musical later on in release.
A black comedy based on Alferd Packer, a US prospector from the 1800s who was accused of cannibalism, the film opens up with black, red and white footage of Packer (Trey Parker) eating his fellow prospector buddies. As the dodgy special effects continue, we’re drawn to the fact that a lawyer is telling the story to the jury – Packer is on trial. The crowd cheers, but Packer stares into the floor in disbelief, stating “that’s not what happened!”
After the opening credits, Journalist Polly Pry (Toddy Walters) tries to get more information out of Packer. She’s not getting anywhere until she mentions the mysterious name – Liane.
Cue Parker’s musical talents of one of many funny songs – Schpadoinkle! Liane, being Packer’s horse and companion, makes her appearance. After beautiful Packer singing that puts Oklahoma to shame, we meet the rest of the miners in the canyon – Shannon Wilson Bell, James Humphrey, Frank Miller, George Noon, and Israel Swan, who find out that there’s more gold mining opportunities in Colorado. After their guide ‘Lucky’ Larry dies from a lightning strike, Packer is forced into being the new guide. As soon as the team is formed, they’re off on their travels, singing Schpadoinkle!
Four weeks later, the group are slowly coming to terms that they maybe lost. Then, out of nowhere, a stranger approaches the group and states that they’re all doomed. After some pleasantries, they arrive at a frontier post to stock up. After many back-and-forth “Howdy!”s, a group of fur trappers are seen hanging around Liane, making Packer jealous. (At the beginning of the scene, listen to the start where you can hear Parker sing in his Cartman voice) After shrugging off concerns, they continue on.
The next day, they set up camp, where after from shitty cooking, more song and dance is cranked out. The catchy That’s All I’m Asking For! is brillantly funny. In the morning, Liane has disappeared, along with their food supplies. Without hesitation, the miners carry on, and arrive at a highly flooded Green river, with nowhere to cross over. So they do the next big thing – cross it directly through it. Two steps later, the entire group is taken down mainstream, in the freezing cold water.
Upon entering easier waters, they set up camp to keep warmth, naked. After some eerie bonding, Packer remembers Liane in song (again), which is quite the lovely highlight of the scene. A few days later, they arrive at Colorado territory, where they are spotted by the Nihonjin indian tribute – made of Japanese. As they become acquainted, the fur trappers turn up at the camp. Packer accuses the trappers of kidnapping Liane, who deny everything.
We are then taken to the main day, where Packer is taken back to court to continue the case. Later on, Polly gets more information from Packer, and he continues the story. Weeks have passed and the miners are severely lost in the snowy mountains. Food supplies are very low, their arses are freezing, and sanity is becoming less and less realistic, except the religious nut who remains positive throughout the entire travel… until he’s shot dead from being to positive about building a fucking snowman.
With no food left, the group cook up the now-shot dead miner as a last resort. Days later, no food – frostbite and insanity is kicking in, Packer wakes up to find the rest of the group bludgened to death, except one. But he’s killed after Packer finds out he murdered them, and killed in self defense.
We now are taken back to the modern day, where Packer is now found guilty and set up to be hanged. Just as the town breaks out in singing and a cowbell solo to define the moment, the Indian chief rescues Packer by cutting the rope. Freed, Packer hooks up with Pry, with a schpadoinkley ending.
This film is hilariously bad, it’s fantastic. If you’re a fan of Parker and Stone’s warped and dirty sense of humour, and love a prop department that is mainly consisting of tomato sauce and papier mache, then this is your film. What seals the deal is the songs are delightfully as terrific as the music from both South Park and Team America films. Parker does have an extraordinary talent in musical themes.
You can thank Troma Films for bringing this out. If it wasn’t for South Park, this movie wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
This week’s rating system brought to you by the lesser known Baldwin brother – Billy Baldwin