Unappreciated Classics – Ravenous
By Nate Hensley
“It’s lonely being a cannibal. Tough making friends.” — Col. Hart
It takes some movies longer to catch on than others. Certain movies that don’t fit into a particular box, or genre, start developing a cult following immediately (like Fight Club and Big Lebowski) but other movies languish in obscurity for too long, waiting for properly appreciative audience to discover them.
One of these movies is called Ravenous.
When we first meet Guy Pearce, he is committing an act of unbridled cowardice that leaves him with a distaste for meat. (It’s really cool and gross and I don’t want to spoil it, but I do want to add that this is the only movie where the opening credits features the hero hurling vomit over the movie’s title) The military brass ship him off to a remote outpost in the Rocky mountains, where he can hide from his shameful actions. He finds the place staffed by a skeleton crew of weirdos serving under a man often times passed out drunk. It’s isolated and dull.
And then a traveler arrives. He is little more than skin and bones, dirty and half-mad with hunger. As he recovers, he tells the soldiers a brutal tale of a party caught in the mountains as the harsh winter befell them. They eat the horses, and then they start eating each other at the behest of a madman named Ives. The traveler is the lone survivor, and is still terrified of Ives. The soldiers force the man to lead them back to the scene of the crime. What they find there sends the movie spiraling out of control into a dark, intense, and surprisingly funny series of events that don’t turn out quite like the viewer expects.
“He was tough. But then, a good soldier should be.” — Ives
Ravenous is quirky. It veers wildly between the darkest of black comedy and the brutal intensity of a horror/thriller. It features an amazing cast (backing up Pearce are Jeffrey Jones, Jeremy Davis, David Arquette, Neal McDonough, and the always-amazing Robert Carlyle) and best of all it is refreshingly resistant to the conventions of plot and genre. This is a movie filled with lively, vibrant characters, great quotes, and moments that tide the line between horrifying and hilarious.
Lord knows why, but I do love me some cannibal movies. For some reason, the topic just lends itself beautifully to dark comedy (see also Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and the cult classic Eating Raoul). However, it’s too simplistic to label Ravenous just a comedy. There are too many other elements at play. And what makes it a classic is how these elements all work together to keep it humorous without crossing the line into being a comedy.
“Morality. Last bastion of a coward.” Ives
One day – mark my words – one day Ravenous will be hailed as a classic. Just remember who hailed it properly, back before it was cool.