The plot of Richard Driscoll’s 2001 movie, Kannibal, is kind of all over the place. On one hand, we’ve got a serial killer on the loose, murdering women all over the city, and taking a souvenir from each body. There’s also a Russian crime family that has recently been attacked, and the daughter of the crime boss, Georgina (played by Linnea Quigley, who I assume needs no introduction around these parts), is out for revenge. There’s also a bit of the old drug game going on, which may or may not be related to both the Russian crime family and the serial killer. And we can’t forget Driscoll himself, the man of many faces who shows up as a morgue doctor who’s overly interested in the police files on the murders, but is later revealed to be…Hannibal Lecter? Well, not really, but Driscoll wrote him as close to Lecter as physically (and maybe legally) possible.
There are some movies that throw a million things at the audience that work, and there are some that fail miserably due to overload; Kannibal falls somewhere in the middle, but leaning toward the bad side.
We start strong, as police go into a building and find multiple dead bodies, many propped up as if they were crucified. Within the next few scenes, we meet Georgina, a Russian lesbian dominatrix who wields a lot of power in the crime world, and then get a quick blasphemous striptease on the altar at a church by Joely (Suzanne Sewell), who we learn is found dead soon after. Like I said, it’s kind of all over the place, and maybe all this together isn’t cinematic gold, but it definitely piques the interest of the audience. But everything gets so cluttered as we move forward, and unfortunately this weighs the film down.
I need to talk about the morgue doctor/Quinn for a moment. This, of course, is the character played by writer and director Richard Driscoll, and he is one of the main characters in the story. There was potential here, for sure – a doctor who works in the morgue and sneaks a peak at police files in order to track down a killer. It’s kind of a Dexter type situation, if you think about it. But the problem is, you know what other movie happened to come out that same year? The return of Hannibal Lecter, Ridley Scott’s Hannibal.
And the reason this is a problem is because Driscoll, for whatever reason, mirrored Lecter’s character when writing Quinn, down to the smallest things. Quinn is an intelligent, somewhat stuffy, doctor who relaxes to classical music while he immerses himself in the files of a killer. His favorite wine? Well, Chianti, of course. And he just happens to have a taste for human flesh. The local newspaper is even called the Daily Tattler! This is Hannibal Lecter in every aspect but name. I don’t know if Driscoll was looking toward the tradition of the old Italian classics and just making his own (unofficial) sequel to the Thomas Harris series, but he goes so far as to introduce, at the very end, a female agent named Robbins who is interested in learning about the killer. Get it? Robbins. Starling. Ugh…
Kannibal is a movie with lots of blood and guts, lots of kills, and lots of plot twists, not all of them good. There’s also a lot of sex in there, a variety of taboo fetishes on display (see the afore-mentioned church scene, as well as a Nazisploitation-esque scene later on). What there isn’t a lot of in there is originality.
While Driscoll chews up the scenery in his various forms (all the same character, mind you, but one that takes on different aliases), he’s a decent-at-best actor, doing a decent-at-best impression. In fact, most of the acting falls into this mid-range category. The overall story is unoriginal and at times convoluted, and can’t be saved by the small handful of interesting scenes. If you’ve seen Silence of the Lambs, and Red Dragon, and Hannibal, this will come across as the Bruno Mattei version of those films, but not as fun. Check it out if you’ve seen everything else currently playing, but don’t go out of your way for this one.