Shaun vs. Ravenous (1999)

A coward captain is exiled to a far off outpost to be part of a skeleton crew for the winter but soon the fort is picked off by a gluttonous cannibal who just wants to eat everybody.

Judging a Book by its Cover



-Normally you can’t get any more generic than giant heads on the poster, but in this scenario, it works very well!  It’s probably the skulls.


-Who let David Arquette on the cover?  I’ll take Jeffrey Jones’ severed head over Arquette’s any day, thank you very much!


-I’m trying to figure out if the background is made up of clouds….or stink fumes.




You are who you eat!

Directed by Antonia Bird

Starring Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, Jeffrey Jones and WCW Champion David Arquette

As the film begins, John Boyd, a second lieutenant of the United States Army, is given a promotion to captain for his courage in taking a Mexican fort single-handedly during the Mexican-American War in the late 1840s.  However, he only got inside the fort because he played dead and was brought into the base with the rest of the corpses.  His superior officer catches wind of his cowardice and exiles Boyd to a far off American outpost to rot away.  Hey, it could’ve been worse!

Looks like someone has the case of the Mondays.

Looks like someone has the case of the Mondays.

Upon arrival, Boyd finds the fort is manned by less than ten men for the upcoming winter and they’re not exactly the cream of the crop so this place is like the Island of Misfit Soldiers.  As a storm approaches, the fort finds the body of a man, calling himself Colqhoun, who is barely alive.  When he comes around, he tells an incredulous story of how his wagon train had been sidetracked by a snowstorm, trapping everyone in a nearby cave.  The storm does not subside and soon the party resorts to eating their animals before the sadistic Colonel Ives recommends cannibalism to survive.  Colqhoun eventually escaped though he was unsure of the fate of a woman who was travelling with the party.  A rescue mission is put together to find the woman but surprise (!) Colqhoun and Ives are one and the same.


I’m in the mood for hotdogs.

Colqhoun murders the soldiers one by one, even taking out fort’s commanding officer.  Boyd tracks Ives down to another fort where Ives lets him on a little secret: eating the flesh of another grants the uncanny power of quick healing.  It’s like becoming Wolverine!  Ives was deathly sick when he was told about the curse of the Wendigo — a creature that can heal itself upon consuming flesh — and he decided to try it out and it worked.  …yay?  Since then, Ives has had an insatiable desire to eat people to stay alive and is using the fort to trap his victims.  He passes the curse onto Boyd in hopes of recruiting him but Boyd is not down with that as the film boils down to two possibly undead cannibals fighting each other.


That’s brisk, baby.

Featuring an eclectic cast and combining elements of dark humour with cannibalism, Ravenous is a really bizarre and uneven survival film, but I liked most of it — my biggest complaint is the music which may be authentic for the time period but I did not enjoy it.  The film can be sickeningly graphic with the cannibalistic scenes, so I appreciated the tinge of humour used to lighten the mood, even if it was for just a moment.  There are times when the film veers towards becoming depressing (though it seems like it may be that way on purpose, in which case, the filmmakers succeeded in bumming us out.)


This is my happy face.

I don’t want to say Ravenous was a chore to watch, but the film definitely makes you feel that ugly, depressing atmosphere right until the credits.  I think I was worn out by the end.  It’s definitely not for everyone but gorehounds will like what’s on the menu and anyone just looking for something different from the norm will surely find something to bite into with this unique take on cannibalism.


Story: 7 – A lightly-manned fort is ambushed by a cannibal who has the uncanny power of healing after consuming his victims.

Blood: 9 – Lots of bloodshed caused by guns, tomahawks, and knives.  Slit throats, exposed guts, dead bodies just covered in red stuff.  Well done, effects guys!

Nudity: 1 – Hide the children, I saw a buttock!

Overall: 6 – Ravenous is a good example of a “love it or hate it” type of movie, most films in the “cannibal” genre are like that.  If you like them, odds are you’ll like this one.  If you don’t then I can’t say that it’ll change your mind but it’s worth a chance.


-Original director Milcho Manchevski was replaced within the first few weeks of production.  He was replaced with Antonia Bird at the recommendation of Robert Carlyle after studio execs at Fox wanted someone else but the cast was against their choice.

-Guy Pearce is a vegetarian yet did multiple takes where his character was to eat a stew made of people (actually lamb.)  He would spit the stew out after the director yelled “cut.”

-Production ran out of fake blood during the final fight scene.


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