The Cannibal Man (1972)

La Semana del Asesino which apparently translates into English as The Week of the Murderer, or the misleading & exploitative title of Cannibal Man as it’s commonly known amongst English speaking audiences, starts in a slaughter house run by a company called ‘Flory’, we witness various cows having their throats slit, bleeding all over the shop & other gory establishing shots. We are introduced to one of the workers, Marcos (Vincente Parra) who has a crap job picking all the guts up & generally has a crap life living in an old house in one of the oldest districts in town. One night while out with his girlfriend Paula Marcos becomes involved in a fight with a taxi driver & ends up accidentally killing him. The next day Paula says they should go to the police & confess, an idea that Marcos is not keen on saying that the police will never believe them because he is poor & cannot afford an expensive lawyer. Paula says she will go to the police on her own at which point Marcos strangles her. Racked with guilt Marcos confesses all to his Brother Steve who also says he must tell the police, in no time whatsoever Marcos beats Steve to death with a wrench. Marcos continues to kill to keep his secret & has dug himself into a hole from which he sees only one escape, to dispose of the evidence at the slaughterhouse…

Originally gaining some notoriety in the UK (& presumably elsewhere) where it was banned as a ‘Video Nasty’ in the early 80’s this Spanish production was co-written & directed by Eloy de la Iglesia & is a surprisingly good character study of a serial killer & one mans descent into madness through fear & panic. The script by Iglesia, Anthony Fos & Robert Oliver isn’t perfect by any means, it starts off really well with the bodies piling up thick & fast but slows considerably towards the end which is odd as it’s usually the other way around. La Semana del Asesino concentrates on Marcos & his thoughts & feelings, what makes him commit murder & the situation he has created that he can’t seem to escape, no mention of the police investigation is ever made if indeed there was one. I was impressed with the ending, it’s certainly not what I was expecting & was maybe a little low key for some but I thought it worked & worked well. The film moves along at a fair pace but does drag a bit in places which would probably put me off watching it again anytime soon. Director Iglesia also manages to throw in a bit of satire amongst the blood, of which there is a fair amount but the title Cannibal Man is so misleading it’s untrue. In fact there is not one single instance of cannibalism in the entire film although we are treated to some decent gore even if it doesn’t reach the heights of some other splatter filled Euro horror, there is an effective slit throat, someone has their head bashed in, someone gets his face split down the middle with a meat clever & there are various gory sequences inside the slaughterhouse & all that entails. Technically La Semana del Asesino is basic but professional enough, Iglesia films it in real locations which add to it’s grittiness & credibility while at the same time giving the film a nice atmosphere throughout, the cinematography is OK, the music forgettable while the special effect’s aren’t going to impress too many people these days they are good enough. The acting by Parra is very strong & I was both engaged & gripped by his character, no one else gets that much screen time but they all do a fine job none-the-less. As long as you can get over the misleading title & not go into La Semana del Asesino expecting an all out cannibal gore fest like Cannibal Holocaust (1980) or Cannibal Ferox (1981) then you may just be rewarded with an intelligent & satisfying drama/thriller/horror! Personally I definitely think it’s well worth a watch, surprisingly good.