"That's the problem with being a cannibal, tough making friends".
A drama/horror/black comedy released in 1999, written by Ted Griffin and directed by Antonia Bird. Ravenous did poorly in theaters, managing only approximately one quarter (~$3 million) of its 12 million dollar budget, but has since become a minor cult favourite. Starred Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, Jeremy Davies, Jeffrey Jones, David Arquette, Neal McDonough.
Lieutenant Boyd, a soldier in the Mexican-American War of the 1840s, has a freak-out when his commanding officer dies in front of him and decides on Playing Possum. The Mexicans thus load him into a cartful of corpses and (for some reason) taken back to their base. Then some blood drips into Boyd's mouth, giving him an intense adrenaline rush during which he single-handedly captures the enemy command, winning the battle. But everyone realizes (most of) what happened when he throws up at the victory barbecue. He thus gets a Medal of Dishonor and a Reassignment To Fort Spencer, a rarely-visited ramshackle mountain pioneer stop in the Middle Of Nowhere populated solely by drunks, layabouts and crazies.
Boyd's just settled into his life of failure when a rambling loon by the name of Colqhoun stumbles in with a horror story; he was part of a party of six pioneers who found themselves trapped in a snowstorm. When they ran out of rations, they ate the pack animals. When those were gone, they ate their leather clothing. When those were gone, one of them starved to death. But instead of burying him... they ate him. A few weeks later, they ate the next one who died of starvation... and found themselves looking at each other oddly...
Colqhoun begs them to come rescue whoever may still be alive, and the seven residents of the fort agree, out of boredom as much as anything else. But when one of them is hurt, Colqhoun wakes him up licking the wound...
Essentially, it's a Wendigo story filmed with a morbid sense of humor about Manifest Destiny, I Did What I Had to Do, and the varied joys of Black Comedy. The soundtrack absolutely cements its ambiguous character, ranging from a carefree organ piece underpinned with a dissonant string part, to a simple string dance piece which is played during a strangely funny murder scene.
- The Alcoholic - Major Knox.
- Anti-Villain - Col. Hart at the end.
- Artistic License Gun Safety - Private Reich has to remind Captain Boyd not to point a loaded rifle at him. A nicely subtle way of reinforcing how useless Boyd is as a soldier.
- Author Tract - The writer, the director, and the leading actor are vegetarians, and take every chance they get to show their disgust of meat. A constant theme is comparing the flesh of animals to the flesh of humans. However, the honesty of that disgust enhances the horror beautifully.
- Black Comedy - The film is ambiguous in this regard.
- Black Dude Dies First - The first member of Colqhoun's party to bite it in the flashback is the token black servant.
- Also George, a resident native, dies before any of the other (white) main characters.
- Blond Guys Are Evil - Reich isn't evil, but he is... unpleasant.
- Cannibalism Superpower - In the film, the Wendigo myth is true; eating human flesh grants Super Strength, a Healing Factor, and cures all diseases. It also acts as a drug that makes heroin seem about as addictive as artificial sweetener.
- Ives also implies that cannibals become sexually potent.
- Cassandra Truth - Boyd ends up with this problem when he tries to warn the others about Ives.
- Dirty Coward - Boyd. Everybody knows it, including him. He only took the Mexican fort after Playing Possum because some of his C.O.'s blood dripped into his mouth. But in the end, he willingly dies Taking Ives With Him.
- Downer Ending - But a hilarious downer ending, which, in this movie, is somehow possible.
Ives: That was... really... sneaky.
- With a touch of Died Happily Ever After - Boyd got Reassigned To The Frontier because of his cowardice, becomes a cannibal because he's afraid to die, but in the end he willingly accepts death hoping to stop Ives' cannibal conspiracy. If he had only thrown out the "Stew a la Major Knox" beforehand...
- The End - or Is It? - At the end of the film, the newly-arrived General Slauson greedily slurping up the "Stew a la Major Knox", thus becoming a cannibal and starting the whole mess up again.
- Evilly Affable - Again, Ives, who manages to make Boyd look absolutely insane by virtue of being so damn convincingly charismatic to everyone else.
- Evil Tastes Good - Ives certainly thinks so.
- Fake American - Guy Pearce is Australian.
- Fake Ultimate Hero - Boyd gets a medal for fainting bravely in the face of danger.
- Healing Factor - The effect of the Wendigo, but with the side effect of Horror Hunger.
- Ho Yay - Boyd and Ives got a lot of it, especially since there's no other love interest in sight. And they end up dying lying on top of each other in a forced embrace...yowza.
- Indulgent Fantasy Segue - This is probably the only movie ever made where the protagonist fantasizes about eating David Arquette.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen - Well, not exactly fight, but Ives does give Toffler a sporting chance, telling him to run instead of simply killing him as he stood there whimpering in shock.
- Magical Native American - Mostly averted. George and Martha do tell the cast about the Wendigo Myth, but the rest of the time spend time either caring for the horses and doing other chores (Martha) or getting stoned (George).
- Medal of Dishonor - Boyd gets one just before he gets Reassigned to Antarctica; everyone knows that his victory was due him Playing Possum, and they really don't want him around.
- Mildly Military - The guys at Fort Spencer spend most of their time just kind of hanging out, eating, or getting stoned. Granted, there's not much better to do in the middle of nowhere, but still.
- Mood Dissonance - Blood, murder, freezing weather, ambiguous moral decisions, character flaws, and... stoners. Comedy, drug humor, everybody here was Reassigned to Antarctica... but the emotional impact is unhindered.
- New Meat - Boyd starts out like this, but unfortunately doesn't get any better, resulting in his reassignment.
- No Escape but Down - When Boyd is cornered by Ives/Colqhoun at the cliff's top. He jumps, without any landing spot. He survives, but his leg is badly broken.
- Overdrawn At the Blood Bank- The final fight was so over the top the production ran out of fake blood.
- Peek-a-Boo Corpse - A whole cave full! Wait a minute... One, two, three, four, five corpses with the meat stripped off... Oh Crap! There were six pioneers! Colqhoun is the cannibal!
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits - The occupants of Fort Spencer. Contrary to the trope's general use, they don't really do so well.
- Reassigned to Antarctica - The basis for every lead character except the villain. Possibly related to the nature of Western expansion, which likely attracted those who wished to leave.
- Reassignment Backfire - Subverted. Boyd is sent to Fort Spencer as a punishment for his cowardice, but, despite the fact that he gets better, pretty much everyone dies anyway.
- Screaming Warrior - Private Reich, even in the first second you ever see him.
- Screwed by the Network - Fox barely released the film (dumping it into 1,000 theatres during a crowded month) and mismarketed it as a teen-aimed horror film rather than the historical thriller that it really is. Not surprisingly, the film did awful business at the box office (but rented decently at video stores).
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here - Martha
- Shown Their Work - The movie is, on occasion, oppressively realistic in its portrayal of its mountainous, unpleasant terrain and the military of its time.
- Sinister Minister - Colqhoun.
- Snow Means Death - Sure, the trek into the mountains is dangerous, but it's really the cannibals you need to watch out for.
- Suicidal Gotcha - Messy, and without the common convenient landing spot. Boyd actually jumps off a cliff, falls down through tree limbs and into a Pit Trap, breaking the ever-loving crap out of his leg in the process. Also, the end of the movie, where Boyd lures Ives into a bear trap, which kills them both.
- Taking You with Me - Boyd comes to this conclusion
- The Stoner - "The over-medicated Private Cleaves".
- Teach Him Anger - Ives to Boyd. Which ends in a very bloody Pygmalion Snapback.
- Took a Level in Badass - Boyd spends the entire film as the designated wimp (he even gets a medal of cowardice), until the last 3 scenes when he decides to fight Ives, using all of his new cannibal superpowers.
- Trapped Behind Enemy Lines - Boyd at the beginning of the movie. He, however, doesn't exactly fight his way out.
- Word of God / Shrug of God: Pertaining to the identity of the villain. Did Reverend Colqhoun take Colonel Ives' identity after killing him? Or was he Ives all along? Director Antonia Bird says Ives is his real name, and the Reverend was a false identity. Conversely, screenwriter Ted Griffin has literally said he doesn't know one way or the other, and that the audience can make up their own minds.