Movie review: Fresh Meat

By Scott Kara

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Kate Elliot and Temuera Morrison in a scene from 'Fresh Meat'. Photo / Supplied
Kate Elliot and Temuera Morrison in a scene from 'Fresh Meat'. Photo / Supplied

There's some finger-licking good cannibalism. Literally, there is, when pathological patriarch and deluded cannibal Hemi Crane (played by Temuera Morrison in his first intentional comedy role) is tucking into his casserole at the dinner table.

There's also a big, brown gangster dressed up in pretty flowery pink girls' undies. And, right at the start of this new Kiwi horror comedy, there's also a lesbian shower scene, just to set the, er, tone.

And really, that's what Fresh Meat is out to do, shock and horrify, but also have an almighty great laugh and not take itself too seriously.

However, the film could do with being more extreme and horrifying, while still maintaining the laughs, which would have lent it more clout.

There will be those who disagree, but even the fact the Cranes are Maori cannibals hardly inspires disapproval, because their "lifestyle choice" is treated so normally.

As Hemi states, "We're not Maori cannibals, we're cannibals who happen to be Maori."

In the tradition of Bad Taste, and films like Shaun of the Dead - only with cannibals and gangsters instead of zombies - Fresh Meat tells the story of the Crane family who are taken hostage by a gang of bumbling crims.

Of course, little do head gangster Ritchie and his smokin' hot missus Gigi (played with sultry staunch ease by Kate Elliott) know, the Cranes are cannibals and Hemi and son Glenn spend quite a bit of time in a Girl With the Dragon Tattoo-style torture chamber-cum-butchery basement.

To an extent the film succeeds in that the story is a bit of a hoot and it makes you chuckle when perhaps you shouldn't be chuckling. There are also truly hilarious moments, like when Hemi - on the verge of fully revealing himself as a maniacal high priest of a cult, who is deadset on becoming immortal - impersonates an Asian gangster when talking to a police negotiator. And best of all is his desire to turn Gigi into "Kai Kai".

The performances are fittingly hammy and over the top too. Perhaps if the film was not so focused on appealing to a mainstream audience, which, despite the subject matter, it clearly is, it might have had more bite.

Because even though it's amusingly tasteless, with its numerous shoot-outs, loads of drug taking, and everything from ear-eating to beheadings, Fresh Meat lacks, well, guts.

Stars: 3/5
Cast: Temuera Morrison, Nicola Kawana, Hanna Tevita, Kate Elliott
Director: Danny Mulheron
Rating: 16 (violence, horror, offensive language & sexual themes)
Running time: 91 mins
Verdict: Not to everyone's taste.


- NZ Herald

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