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2016 02 17 Bone Tomahawk

Ten Ferocious Movie Cannibals

Written by Daniel Benson

With Bone Tomahawk about to unleash its savage blend of Old-West cannibal horror on the world, we take a look at some of the great cannibal characters to grace the screens throughout movie history. Bone Tomahawk is a gritty, unpredictable, action-packed Western chronicling a terrifying rescue mission. When a group of cannibal savages kidnaps settlers from the small town of Bright Hope, Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell)and his team set out to bring them home. But their enemy is more ruthless than anyone could have imagined, putting their mission – and survival itself – in serious jeopardy.

Bone Tomahawk is in UK cinemas from 19th February 2016.

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Jupiter’s Clan (The Hills Have Eyes)

Whether it's Wes Craven's 1977 original or Alexandre Aja's 2006 remake, the cult classic's cannibalistic mutants serve as some of the most memorable and horrifying antagonists in the history of cinematic horror. One might think a family of mutant cannibals living in the desert might struggle for food, but there's obviously enough passing trade to keep them well fed.

hannibal lecter

Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)

Anthony Hopkins' screen time for Silence of the Lambs is just over 16 minutes, yet it was for this role that Hopkins would be awarded an Oscar for best actor. It's the performance that elevated the cannibalistic forensic psychiatrist to be named the American Film Institute's number one movie villain in 2003 and number eight on Entertainment weekly's Top 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years in 2010. There is no villain more synonymous with cannibalism than Hannibal Lecter, all thanks to Hopkins first performance.

cannibal holocaust

Ya̧nomamö Tribe (Cannibal Holocaust)

Quite possibly the most infamous cannibal movie ever filmed, Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust was an early adopter of the found/recovered footage conceit that is so overused in modern horror. Rape, murder and mutilation are the order of the day as the tribe reacts to the invasion of its habitat and interference in its feud with the rival Shamatari tribe by western filmmakers. No one is safe, least of all the local wildlife, which suffered for real being slaughtered on screen to add extra shock value to this notorious exploitation milestone.

family texas chainsaw

The Sawyer Family (Texas Chain Saw Massacre)

It can sometimes be easy to overlook the cannibalism that features in this film, with viewers too focused on the nightmarish figure of Leatherface or the aging members of the Sawyer family. But the Sawyer's murderous pursuit for victims does not just stem from bloodlust, but for the consummation of humans. Lesson learned: don't interfere with simply country folk and their quaint ways.


Colonel Ives (Ravenous)

Robert Carlyle's portrayal of the cannibalistic Colonel Ives, during the Mexican-American war, acts as the standout in a film filled with superb performances, a terrifying premise excellently executed to create a unique film.


Troglodyte Clan (Bone Tomahawk)

These cannibalistic savages are truly shocking in their level of brutality and unflinching in their pursuit of Kurt Russell and his men. The film mixes the cunning of native Americans from classic westerns with the savagery of the tribes of films such as Cannibal Holocaust.

sin city

Kevin (Sin City)

Elijah Woods brings to the screen a truly terrifying creation; preying on the city's prostitutes, the mute serial killer is truly unnerving and a monster in a very real sense.  Equipped with his own execution chamber, he kills and eats his victims but keeps the heads to mount on his wall like hunting trophies.

we are what we are

Parker Family (We Are What We Are)

This 2013 American version is a remake of the Mexican film Somos lo que hay, telling the story of a seemingly normal family who happen to be cannibals. The dynamic in this version has been changed to that of a father-daughter family which creates adds weight to the horror that this could be the family next door. A cautionary tale for those intent on switching their family diet, no good ever comes of eating people.

green inferno

The Tribe (The Green Inferno)

Cannibals are back in vogue as Eli Roth's love letter to the Italian exploitation films of the 70s and 80s sees an altogether unpleasant bunch of eco-activists fall foul of a cannibalistic Amazonian tribe. All they were trying to do was save the rain forest and what do they get for it? Eaten, that's what. Still, no-one could blame the tribe for butchering these repellent internet warriors, I'd almost resort to cannibalism myself to get rid of this bunch.


The Survivors (Alive)

Alive is a different entry on this list, as the reasoning for the characters indulging in cannibalism is out of necessity rather than a good, old-fashioned desire to eat someone's innards. The film is ultimately about horrific acts which had to be overcome in order to survive, making the cannibalism in this film truly cinematically different to many other films that touch on this gruesome subject.

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About The Author
Daniel Benson
UK Editor / Webmaster
Fuelled mostly by coffee and a pathological desire to rid the world of bad grammar, Daniel has found his calling by picking holes in other people's work. In the rare instances he's not editing, he's usually breaking things in the site's back end.
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