From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Ravenous (disambiguation).
Ravenous ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Antonia Bird
Produced by Adam Fields
David Heyman
Tim Van Rellim
Written by Ted Griffin
Starring Guy Pearce
Robert Carlyle
and David Arquette
Music by Michael Nyman
Damon Albarn
Cinematography Anthony B. Richmond
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 19, 1999 (1999-03-19)
Running time
100 minutes
Country Czech Republic
United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $12 million
Box office $2,062,405

Ravenous is a 1999 American black comedy horror film and satire directed by Antonia Bird and starring Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, Jeffrey Jones and David Arquette. The film revolves around cannibalism in 1840s California and some elements bear similarities to the story of the Donner Party and that of Alferd Packer. Screenwriter Ted Griffin lists Packer's story, as recounted in a couple of paragraphs of Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man, as one of his inspirations for Carlyle's character. The film's darkly humorous and ironic take on its gruesome subject matter have led some to label it as a black comedy. The film's unique score by Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn generated a significant amount of attention. The film's production did not get off to a good start. Original director Milcho Manchevski left the production three weeks after shooting started. He was replaced by Bird at the suggestion of Carlyle.


During the Mexican-American War (1846 – 1848), Second Lieutenant Boyd fights in the United States Army (Boyd is a former officer in the Army of the Republic of Texas, that merged with the US Army in 1846 - he still wears the Texas Army rank insignia of second lieutenant: one five pointed star on each shoulder strap)[original research?]. But in battle his courage fails him, and, to avoid being killed, he plays dead—while his unit is massacred. He is transported along with the other dead (with his commanding officer's blood dripping into his mouth) back to the Mexican headquarters. However, in a moment of sudden bravery, he captures the Mexican command. For his heroism Boyd is promoted to Captain, but when his commanding officer learns of the cowardice by which his victory was achieved, he exiles Boyd to the remote Fort Spencer in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

After Boyd joins the seven other inhabitants of Fort Spencer, a stranger named Colqhoun arrives and describes his wagon train becoming lost in the Sierra Nevadas and being reduced to cannibalism to avoid starvation. The party's guide, a Colonel Ives, had promised the party a shorter route to the Pacific Ocean but instead led them on a more circuitous route, and was then the one to lead their turn to cannibalism. The soldiers stationed at the fort see it as their duty to investigate and search for survivors, and so assemble a rescue party. Before they leave they are warned by their Native American scout, George, of the Wendigo myth; a story that a man consuming the flesh of his enemies takes their strength but becomes a demon cursed by a hunger for human flesh.



The film was shot on location in the Tatra Mountains, Slovakia and Durango, Mexico. One week before production, original director Milcho Manchevski was said to have submitted new storyboards, which would have required additional two weeks of shooting.[1] The production company, Fox 2000, eventually agreed to an additional week, with complaints that Manchevski had refused production meetings with the producers. Meanwhile, Manchevski complained Fox 2000 executive Laura Ziskin micromanaged the production by vetoing his chosen technicians and casting against his wishes.

Shooting was delayed on the first day as Manchievski and the production were still negotiating over the production budget and shooting schedule. As filming commenced, Manchevski says Ziskin sent him notes on the rushes "every day", complaining about the amount of dirt on the costumes and the number of closeups.[2] Screenwriter Ted Griffin was at hand for "constant rewrites" during the shooting.[1]

After three weeks of shooting, Ziskin arrived to the set with director Raja Gosnell in tow to dismiss Manchevski and place Gosnell in as a replacement. While Manchevski left the production, the cast has been said to have rejected Gosnell. Robert Carlyle then recommended Antonia Bird, his frequent collaborator and business partner, to take over.

Following ten days of negotiations, Bird arrived in Prague to helm the production. She, too, would criticize the circumstances under which the filming was to take place, describing the allocated studio space as "horrible" and the scheduling of the shoot "manipulative".[2] She also went on to say her predecessor, Manchievski, should not be blamed for the problematic production.[3]

Bird suggests the final theatrical cut had elements introduced without her approval, as she expressed disdain over the voiceover narration and was interested in recutting the film for the European market.[2]

This would be the last theatrically released film to feature John Spencer, who would commit to his role as Leo McGarry full-time on the TV series The West Wing, before passing away in 2005.[4]


Main article: Ravenous (soundtrack)


Box office performance[edit]

Ravenous opened on March 19, 1999 in the United States in 1,040 theaters, accumulating $1,040,727 over its opening weekend. It finished eighteenth for the weekend. The film went on to gross $2,062,405 in North America, far less than its reported $12 million budget.[5]

Critical response[edit]

Ravenous received mixed reviews from professional critics, somewhat tending toward the negative. However, the movie has since gained a cult following. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received 43% overall approval out of 46 reviews. Yet 79% of Rotten Tomatoes fans approved of the film.[6] Roger Ebert, gave Ravenous a better review, rating it 3 stars out of 4 and stating that it was "the kind of movie where you savor the texture of the filmmaking, even when the story strays into shapeless gore."[7]

Michael Smith of White City Cinema ranked it as his 21st favorite film of the 1990s.[8]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]