Despite the names involved, Cannibal Girls is mostly remembered as the film which proved once and for all that Canada could produce cheap drive-in schlock just as well as the next country. The only difference with Canuxploitation is that along with the occasional spurt of stage blood and brief gratuitous nudity, you also get scene after scene of Martin and Levy (the latter sporting a glorious 70s white boy afro) spouting dialogue which the credits assure us “was developed by the cast from an original story.” (Some call it Improv, we call it making crap up while the camera is rolling.)
Truthfully, most people find Cannibal Girls a bit dull (3.7/10 on Imdb), but for those with an affinity for the meandering pace of early 70s cinema, this one’s a decent enough time killer. In fact, once you realize the whole town is in cahoots with the cannibalistic cult, the film actually develops a kind of cut rate Lovecraftian vibe. (If H. P. had been a rural Canadian redneck raised on back bacon, that is.) And if all else fails, you can always fast forward to any scene featuring Ronald Ulrich as the maniacal cape-wearing cult leader and Bunker as the deformed henchman… Bunker, as they tend to liven things up.
Maybe the problem is that the movie’s premise, a community which achieves eternal life through the consumption of body and blood, just doesn’t resonate with people anymore. Not even in church. In a 2008 survey conducted by Georgetown University, it was found that only 57% of American Catholics believe in the real presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, which means they reject what the Catechism, quoting St Ignatius of Antioch, describes as “the medicine of immortality.”
The catch is that 91% of those who attend mass at least once a week do still believe in the real presence, so it falls on them (us) to bring that “medicine” to the rest of the world. “More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos” Pope Benedict XVI explained in Deus Caritas Est, “we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving… The Eucharistic mystery thus gives rise to a service of charity towards neighbor, which "consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, affecting even my feelings.”
So as we study this week’s readings for the Feast of Corpus Christi, let’s reflect on living the Eucharist outside the walls of the church building and join in with the Cannibal Girls as they recite their favorite chant, “Within me, and without me, I honor the blood which gives me life.” Just don’t, you know, cook and eat anyone afterwards.