Since movies began, the cannibal has been tarred as savage, gluttonous, and hateful - see the 1899 film "Bringing a Friend Home for Dinner". However, in recent years, we have seen those with the appetite for human flesh reveal other appetites of a more tender nature. In the spirit of St Valentine's Day, we open our hearts to those who indulge in the entrée that dare not speak its name.
You have to admit, Dr Hannibal Lecter is an intelligent man who understands that the way to a woman's heart lies via her stomach... or vice versa, depending on your butchering technique. "The Silence of the Lambs" is the haute cuisine of cannibalism with Lecter as charming and exacting as Marco Pierre White. After winning her over with his helpful fashion advice and free psychotherapy in their first meetings, his relationship with Clarice Starling becomes more intimate in "Hannibal".
Love conquers even a shortage of meat in the post-apocalyptic "Delicatessen". When not carving up grannies and handymen, Clapet the lusty landlord-cum-butcher trades his choice cuts for sexual liaisons with Mademoiselle Plusse. Robert the toy maker pines after the much maligned and suicidal Aurore. Not hindered by dodging meat cleavers, true love finds the rubber-faced clown, Louison, and Clapet's daughter Julie inspiring some beautiful saw-cello duets and a bid for freedom.
Lashings of homo-erotic subtext complement Antonia Bird's man-eating frontier flick, "Ravenous". Before you can say, "Pleased to meet you, meat to please you," Boyd (Guy Pearce) and Calquhoun (Robert Carlyle) are exchanging deep sighs and long gazes. Needless to say, there's plenty of nourishing neighbours to provide any number of romantic meals for the tempestuous couple. Will they partake? Will it be consummation or consumption? The fast-paced plot quickly becomes ludicrous, and you soon wish someone would eat Antonia Bird.
In just one century the be-feathered savage has been civilised. Cannibalism has left the jungle, and is in the lounge with a gin and tonic. Given these heady days of sexual liberation, it's nice to see that some people recognise the value of a simple romantic dinner for two.