The Sound of Musicals: Cannibal! The Musical
It may be amateurishly made on a budget of a handheld camera and a bunch of dudes of fake blood, but Trey Parker's Cannibal: The Musical still manages to entertain and excite through its often hilarious musical numbers and uniquely dark scenes of brutal violence.
Based on the real life story of Alferd Packer, a man who confessed to the cannibalism of five friends on a month long trip across a snowy Colorado mountain during a particularly nasty winter, Cannibal!'s setup doesn't exactly sound like it's dying to be a musical. It's a brutal story that gets fairly depressing at times, but among the dreary darkness Parker (in an early partnership with future South Park co-creator Matt Stone) shoves humor.
The movie opens with a title card explaining that what we are about to watch is a movie that was overshadowed and buried by the popularity of Oklahoma! and that the movie's more violent scenes had been edited out of this unearthed copy. The immediate next scene sees Packer brutally ripping open jaws, biting out throats, and generally disemboweling a group of five. This simple gag perfectly sums up what to expect from the next hour and a half, setting up expectations and then defying them gleefully (and morbidly.) Most of the humor is as subtle as a slap in the face, and I'd expect nothing less from the men that created Team America: World Police and BASEketball.
Trey Parker's love for musical theater is not something he has ever hidden. Aside from the full-on musicals South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut and The Book of Mormon, he never fails to insert great self-written and performed songs into his other works like South Park and Team America. Because of this clear love and talent for music, Cannibal's songs are all fully produced and fun to listen to.
There's the unabashedly silly and poppy "Shpadoinkle" that reprises whenever the movie needs a little dose of pep and serves as a pretty direct parody of Oklahoma!'s "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning." There's the power ballad "Ode To Liane" that Packer sings to his beloved missing horse while the group surround the campfire completely nude. Even the pretty bad "Let's Build a Snowman" is made memorable because it leads to a hilariously shocking display of violence.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker have had an incredibly successful career. They have 100% creative control in nearly everything they have done. Even in their first feature they showcase why that's a great thing. It's riddled with awful editing and cinematography and undeniable tonal flaws, but the infectiousness of the songs contrasting with the overall weirdness of the dark story makes it a joy to watch.