Top 25 Cannibals in Fiction (other than Hannibal Lecter)
Oh, eat your heart out...or brains...mmm, brains...
25. Charlie and Dee
Got the munchies in: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Mac and Dennis: Manhunters” (TV, 2008)
“Thank you for our human meat Frank. It was delicious.” It should come as a surprise to no one that Frank’s got a guy who gets him special meat; which, by the way, is so delicious that habitual meat thieves Charlie and Dee must have more. They’ve got the hunger and when you’ve got the hunger you start acting funny. You might turn up at the local morgue with a hotplate and a six pack or you might try basting a hobo while fattening him up with candy. Sure, that gnawing in their bellies might be from eating a raccoon (which is lousy with parasites) or it could be the insatiable hunger one feels after devouring the most dangerous prey of all.
24. Alferd Packer
Got the munchies in: Cannibal! The Musical! (Film, 1993)
“Don’t you boys know how scary the mountains are? Aren’t you afraid of the Cyclops?” In ye olden times, back when trappers and Mormons roamed wild and free, a simple trip to Colorado territory could be perilous. All Alferd wanted to do was mine enough gold to buy his beloved horse a ranch (and, one assumes, be alone with said horse). Why couldn’t those darn trappers just leave good, Mormon fearing, diggers alone? We may never really know what happened; did Alferd go mad and kill those people? Did he escape justice on a technicality? Either way, I like to imagine that the real Donner Party met their untimely end when they ran into a blood-mad Trey Parker who liked nothing more than to rip the arm off a man and then beat him to death with it.
23. Robert Thorn
Got the munchies in: Soylent Green (Film, 1973)
Never has food looked more appetizing as a bright green wafer. Plankton; it’s what’s for dinner. But what is a giant corporation to do when the plankton dies out? You have to feed the 40 million inhabitants of New York City a wafer made from something and as detective Robert Thorn discovers, that something is people. Kind of makes you wonder what Soylent Red was made out of. And as he’s being taken away on the stretcher at the end of the movie, you get the feeling that there is going to be a Charlton Heston flavored batch of Soylent Green on the market in the very near future.
22. Tamora the Goth
Got the munchies in: Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare (Play, 1588) and Titus (Film, 1999)
Run, do not walk, to your computer and rent this adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus from Netflix. You will love the set design, the costuming and the crazy face Sir Anthony Hopkins makes. But the real gem of this picture, as any fan of American Horror Story will tell you, is the magnificent Jessica Lange. I’m not sure where her motivation came from, but that certainly is the look of a woman trying to gag herself after she realizes the meat pie she just ate was made from her sons, Chiron and Demetrius. To be fair, they were right little bastards who had it coming; and even though revenge is a dish best served cold, you can also serve it piping hot and covered in a flaky crust.
21. Scott Tenorman
Got the munchies in: South Park “Scott Tenorman Must Die” (TV, 2001)
Can I give you some free advice? Never, ever, try to sell Cartman your pubes for $10 ($16.12 after inflation). He’s seen Hannibal and while he may not be able to train giant pigs to devour you or get a pony to bite off your wiener, he will find your weakness. After continually matching wits with the 9th grader and losing, Cartman invites Scott to a Chili con Carnival where he proudly serves up a bowl of Mr. and Mrs. Tenorman Chili. Watching Cartman lick the tears from the face of his vanquished foe, you can’t help but wonder if he tasted the chili himself, the fat bastard.
20. Fat Bastard
Got the munchies in: Austin Powers the Spy Who Shagged Me (Film, 1999)
Speaking of, who can forget THE Fat Bastard, Dr. Evil’s corpulent henchman. Funny, right? EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT HE WANTED TO EAT A BABY! Fat Bastard may have been an amusing display of exaggerated gluttony, but the dude wanted Mimi Me in lieu of payment from Dr. Evil. Did he want a little henchman for his own? No. He was under the impression Mimi Me was a baby and having experienced the succulent taste of baby flesh before, Fat Bastard was eager to chow down on infant once again. So before you snicker at the Fat Bastard’s antics, ask yourself, is baby eating really a topic we should be amused by? Yeah, it kind of is.
19. Dr. Frankenfurter
Got the munchies in: The Rocky Horror Show by Richard O’Brien (Stage Musical, 1973 and Film, 1975)
In the midnight freakfest that is the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dr. Frankenfurter (played by the unforgettable Tim Curry) serves up his delivery boy and one time fling, Eddie (played, appropriately enough, by Meatloaf), to his unsuspecting dinner guests. Poor Brad and Janet; they were so innocent before they set foot in that house. Not only did Dr. Frank seduce them into acts of unspeakable sexual debauchery (one assumes), but then tricks them into becoming cannibals like himself (I love how he sits there, primly eating, as the others sing on). Listen, it’s all just a strange excuse for weird twenty year olds to sing, yell at a movie screen, get laid and throw toast. Not necessarily in that order. But yeah, transvestite cannibalism: don’t dream it, be it.
18. Chris and friends
Got the munchies in: The Walking Dead “Fear the Hunters” (Comic, 2009)
As if a world overrun with zombies wasn’t bad enough, Chris and his little pack of reprobates decide that since they can’t hack it as hunters they’ll just take their cues from the zombies. When Dale gets bitten and goes into the woods to die alone, things don’t quite go according to plan. Instead, he ends up losing his other leg as the main course in a cannibal barbeque. You have to love Dale for seeing the humor in the situation; after all, the idiots are eating tainted meat. What effect a putrid piece of Dale thigh would have had on Chris and his buddies is never revealed. Rick, Michonne and Andrea lead a hunting party of their own and make sure the cannibals meet an extremely uncomfortable end. Honestly, I’m not sure what was worse, the fact that they ate people or the fact that Chris monologued about it.
17. The Yanomamo Tribe
Got the munchies in: Cannibal Holocaust (Film, 1980)
We all remember when we first saw Cannibal Holocaust. The woman impaled on a spike, the turtle getting butchered, white people committing heinous acts of violence against a native Amazon tribe. Much like The Faces of Death, this is one of those traumatic rites of passage young people go through when they first encounter video gore. Good thing those American “documentary makers” had the presence of mind to keep filming while the Yamomamo literally ripped them to shreds. That kind of dedication has been passed down from one indie horror film maker to the next. If not for Cannibal Holocaust, would we really have had The Blair Witch Project? Oh look, there goes Faye’s head. As terrible as the last scenes were, you have to agree those idiots had it coming.
Got the munchies in: Ancient Greece
If it is a day ending in “Y” and you are reading an article written by Gerri, you can rest assured I’ll make an art reference. Here it is: is there any better depiction of cannibalism in all of fine art than Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring his Son? You know Zeus, right? Well, when Zeus and his siblings were born, they were almost immediately devoured by their father, Cronus (aka Saturn). That’s one way to get those ungrateful kids off your lawn. Sure, the old Titan wasn’t able to keep the meal down (maybe he should have tried Tums?) and in the end Zeus ripped his way out of his father’s stomach. Still, that makes for a hell of a mental image, especially if you picture Zeus as played by Liam Neeson.
Got the munchies in: Firefly (TV, 2002) and Serenity (Film, 2005)
The Reavers were designed by Bernie Wrightson (you didn’t know that, now you do; that’s why you come here, for education). Originally the Reavers were thought to be human beings driven insane by the vast blackness of space; transformed by their madness into raping hordes of space cannibals. The true secret of the Reavers’ origins is the great mystery the crew of Serenity must solve in order to save the ‘verse. Like most of Joss Whedon’s narratives, Firefly had a light and mostly humorous tone, unforgettable oneliners and eminently likeable characters. Until the Reavers showed up. The Reavers stripped their engines of radiation shielding and tore off their own faces. They would attach the skeletal remains of their victims to the hulls of their ships. They were the scourge of the universe and a constant source of dread.
14. Sweeny Todd and Mrs. Lovett
Got the munchies in: The String of Pearls: A Romance, probably written by James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest (Penny Dreadful, 1785) and Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Film, 2007)
Three! Count’em, three musicals with cannibals! What started out as a murder mystery in a 1785 penny dreadful, had the staying power to become a world renowned musical centuries later. Even if you are not down with theatre (or Glee), you have to appreciate a song about the mincing of human flesh into meat pies as a means of vengeance (Cartman? Titus?). The very name Sweeney Todd is synonymous with cannibalism (NOT Jonny Depp), even though it was actually Mrs. Lovett who served the barber’s victims for supper. Sweeney Todd’s straight razor and Mrs. Lovett’s culinary acumen make them two of the most beloved cannibals in history. No one hums a tune by Jeffrey Dahmer, do they?
13. Floyd Feylinn Ferell
Got the munchies in: Criminal Minds “Lucky” (TV, 2007)
Jamie Kennedy plays a mouth breathing psychopath laboriously modeled off of virtually every basement dwelling, white trash, homespun cannibal who came before him. You know that weird, yet seemingly harmless creeper who lives down the street from you? The one that, while you won’t be surprised to hear he’s been killing and eating hobos in his spare time, you will nonetheless tell the Channel 3 News Team was just so “quiet”. Ferell, much like Kennedy, is just a giant cliché. He was institutionalized as a kid, served rescue workers who were looking for his latest victim questionable chili, drew smiley faces next to pun laden recipes in his steno book and targeted athletic women for the quality of their meat. Sound familiar?
Got the munchies in: Star Wars The Mandolorain Armor by K. W. Jeeter (Novel, 1998)
Everyone is always so busy fawning over Boba Fett that they completely overlook the one mercenary badass enough to devour his own father. It isn’t easy being heir to the Bounty Hunter’s Guild, especially if you have dreams of leadership. You have to put up with constant insubordination in the form of little pissants pointing out that you aren’t your father and therefore they don’t have to take orders from you. Is there anything worse than having to work with lazy and immature bounty hunters? The good news is that you can succeed, but only if you are hungry enough. As it turns out, Cradossk was not nearly as hungry as his son. Ritual cannibalism is pretty commonplace for Trandoshans, how else does one get rid of those unwanted siblings?
11. Dead River Clan
Got the munchies in: Off Season by Jack Ketchum (Novel, 1980)
That Sawney Bean may have been a horrific monster that caused countless people unimaginable pain, but his story sure inspires good fiction. Seriously, go camping after reading this book, I dare you. The great Jack Ketchum is the undisputed master of reality horror. No ghosts, vamps, zombies or demons, just atrocities committed by his fellow man. In Off Season, campers run afoul of back woods cannibals who are hungry for some mayhem. You think you’ve read this type of thing before, but you really haven’t. Ketchum’s prose is visceral and, at times, it is almost impossible to continue reading. Yet a part of your brain commands you to do just that; heck just like in Cannibal Holocaust, you can’t look away. There is a dissection scene in this novel that still makes me squirm a decade after reading it. This novel would make Reavers cry. It would make the Hills Have Eyes blink. It would make Mrs. Lovett buy a juicer.
10. Colonel Ives/F.W. Colqhoun
Got the munchies in: Ravenous (Film, 1999)
Robert Carlyle manages to look like an occasionally dapper, bat shit insane, hobo in this film loosely based on The Donner Party. This is no song and dance routine about Trey Parker and his unhealthy relationship with a horse. I don’t know about you, but if some strange guy came stumbling out of the Sierra Nevadas claiming that his wagon train got stuck in the wilderness and their leader resorted to cannibalism, I’d be suspicious. It stands to reason that whoever was downing protein fastest probably ended as the strongest (if not the only) survivor. No? Ok, Guy Pearce, you’re just going to follow the crazy guy into the woods? Well be careful, Ives doesn’t just resort to cannibalism to survive; he has developed a taste for it. It’s a shame the same thing can’t be said about Pearce. Die of starvation or eat my enemy; if it was up to me? Pass the salt.
9. Andrew Compton
Got the munchies in: Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite (Novel, 1996)
In the 1990’s Brite wrote a series of drug fueled, hyper-sexualized and altogether dreary novels set in her hometown of New Orleans. They were required reading for all card carrying Goths. If you invested heavily in eyeliner and Manic Panic, you will remember the incomparably sensual monster that was Andrew Compton. Compton was a serial killer who had escaped from prison and who eventually hooked up with the emotionally damaged artist, Jay Byrne. The couple that is dysfunctional together, devours others? Together they tested the boundaries of “art” by trying to combine it with sexy time and, of course, cannibalism. You can keep your Nicholas Sparks, is there anything more romantic than when Compton devours his lover so that they can be joined together, forever? One imagines he was listening to the Cure on his Sony Walkman at the time.
Got the munchies in: Incredible Hulk #162 by Steve Englehart and Herb Trimpe (Marvel Comics, 1973)
The Wendingo is a cautionary tale, warning against the atrocity that is cannibalism. Anyone who dares to eat human flesh in the great white north of Canada’s Tundra is transformed by the northern gods into a Wendigo, cursed to hunt the arctic waste for more flesh to feed its hunger. The Wendigo has been a recurring concept in Marvel Comics since 1973 and has had run-ins with Alpha Flight, the X-Men, Werewolf by Night and Sabretooth. Yet, the creature’s finest moment came as the adversary in Incredible Hulk #181, the comic which also introduced Wolverine. There are many creatures roaming the Marvel universe, but the Wendigo has the distinction of a being the only one to have a flesh loving palette and is a reminder that some sins are too much for even the gods to bear.
7. Tilda and Tabby
Got the munchies in: Doctor Who “Paradise Towers” (TV, 1987)
Cannibalism is not new to Doctor Who. Heck, even Captain Jack had a run in with a pack of rural, run of the mill, cannibals. I was almost as surprised as the rest of Torchwood to discover that those idiots were just garden variety British rednecks with a penchant for human flesh (does the U.K. have rednecks??). What sets the old girls, Tilda and Tabby, apart is just that; they are two sweet old Rezzies. They aren’t rednecks, they are nice, civilized, granny-type ladies doing what they must to survive in a pinch. Perfectly reasonable! I imagine Blanche and Rose of the Golden Girls wouldn’t have been above luring Mel in for a nice cuppa!
Got the munchies in: Heroes (TV, 2006)
Sylar didn’t get those powers from winding your watch. He had to absorb them. But how to go about it? Can you suck someone else’s powers out with a kiss? Did he do it with a handshake? Where are one’s superpowers physically located? It’s not like you keep them in your pocket. While we aren’t sure how Sylar figured it out, he discovered that the best way to go about it was to extract them from the brain; absorbing the power by way of his mouth. Iew. J.J. Abrams tried to stay pretty vague on this point so Sylar wouldn’t devolve into a terrible zombie cliché. But the process was certainly implied; even if Sylar denied it when Claire called him out on his disgusting diet. I wonder if he cooked the brains first, sautéing them in butter with grated truffles ala Hannibal?
5. Drayton Sawyer (The Cook)
Got the munchies in: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise (Film, 1974)
Leatherface’s old man does not take crap from anyone. Not his crazy family, not his crazy power tool wielding son and not from any of those ridiculous city slickers who keep getting lost driving around his town. He’s a working man. He knows how to keep his Last Chance Gas Station in business and isn’t too picky about taking opportunities as they come. Meat on the hoof, even if the hoof in question is a sandal or a sneaker, is still meat. In fact, Drayton’s entrepreneurial spirit helps him win numerous chili cook offs at the county fair (where he likely swaps recipes with Cartman and Floyd Feylinn Ferell). So what if those peppercorns look suspiciously like bones or teeth? If you know what’s good for you you’ll just keep eating.
4. Patrick Bateman
Got the munchies in: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (Novel, 1987 and Film, 2000)
While most people remember Bateman from Christian Bale’s performance in American Psycho, the character first showed up as the younger brother of the protagonist in Rules of Attraction. It was not revealed until much later that Bateman was a sadistic serial killer and cannibal. In both the book and the movie, Bateman was a consumer. He consumed liquor, copious amounts of drugs, and 80’s contemporary pop hits (if you thought Chris’s monologue to Rick was bad, catch the chapter in American Psycho dedicated to Huey Lewis and the News). It should come as no surprise that the ultimate consumer had extreme appetites. Bateman’s casual dabbling in cannibalism was more a symptom of his psychosis than the motivation behind it. And unlike his refined palette when it came to luxury baubles, he preferred, let’s call it “street food”. Don’t just stare at it, eat it.
3. Charles Burnside
Got the munchies in: Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub (Novel, 2001)
Mr. Burnside was the monstrous antagonist in King and Straub’s sequel to The Talisman. He was the killer and consumer of over 100 children. In the novel Burnside is an eighty-five year old Alzheimer’s patient, possessed by the demonic entity Mr. Munshun. It turns out Burnside was faking the disease and had allowed Munshun to re-establish his evil side in stages. Burnside’s latest killing spree brings the hero of The Talisman, Jack Sawyer, back into action. The notion of a creepy cannibal killer feeding on children while residing in the heart and mind of a frail old man is a notion built on pure terror. Burnside takes his place among the great King antagonists like Randall Flagg, Annie Wilkes and Pennywise the Clown.
Got the munchies in: Sin City “The Hard Goodbye” (Comic, 1991 and Film, 2005)
After Return of the King, Elijah Wood found the surest way to break typecasting: play a cannibal. Kevin, the flesh eater who took Goldie’s life in Sin City, was a silent, terrifying killer. He enjoyed slowly devouring his female victims as they watched. Frank Miller always drew ‘ol Kev with light reflecting off his trademark spectacles, effectively removing all sense of humanity from the figure. Elijah Wood portrayed the silent killer in the film adaptation of Sin City, perfectly. Frank Miller’s world is filled with subhuman monsters who prey on the innocent, but Kevin might be the most memorable and frightening of them all thanks to his unnerving silence and merciless penchant for female flesh.
1. Clarice Starling
Got the munchies in: Hannibal by Thomas Harris (Novel, 1999 and Film, 2001)
Clarice claims the number one spot, not by her association to Hannibal Lecter, but for her meteoric fall from grace. Plucky Clarice, she strove so hard to do the right thing both in her role as a federal agent and also as a human being. But after years of wretched politicking and betrayal at the hands of her superiors in the Bureau, only one man remained honest and loyal (after a fashion). Is it any wonder that she finally succumbed to the good doctor’s charm? And what better way to show your disdain for your enemies than to dine on your nemesis, Paul Crendler? Sure, drugs and a nice glass of Chianti may have opened her to the idea of cannibalism, but she didn’t have to ask for seconds or sit through a four course supper before retiring with the doctor to the bedroom. Hey, if you’re going to go out, go out with brains and a bang.
Honorable mention: Paul Crendler
Got the munchies in: Hannibal by Thomas Harris (Novel, 1999 and Film, 2001)
Is it really cannibalism if you eat a piece of your own brain?