"If you die first, I am definitely going to eat you, but the question is, if I die, what are you going to do? Bon appétit... Eat or die."
Description: Robert Carlyle as cannibal Colonel Ives speaking to Captain Boyd (Guy Pearce) in the motion picture Ravenous (1999).
In 1847, Captain Boyd, a veteran of the Mexican-American is given a dubious promotion and sent to a remote outpost in the Sierra Nevada's. Arriving at Fort Spencer in Northern California Boyd reports to Colonel Hart (Jeffrey Jones) who supervises a a small crew of solders including Pvt. Reich (Neil McDonough), alcoholic Doctor Knox (Spinella), Pvt. Cleaves (David Arquette), a drug-addicted cook, Chaplain Toffler and two resident Indians, George (Joseph Runningfox), the fort's guide and his sister, Martha (Sheila Tousey).
Soon after Boyd arrives at Fort Spencer, a starving Scotsman named Colqhoun comes seeking help and telling a tale tale about a rouge army officer who lead a group of settlers into a cave and then began to slaughter and eat them when their food supply ran low.
In recounting the incident, Colqhoun jokes “I said no food. I didn't say there was nothing to eat.” Of course, such a story activates the solders to travel to the killing sight and assist the survivors. Only Martha, Knox, and Cleaves stay behind.
"We left in April. Six of us in all. Mr. MacCready and his wife, from Ireland. Mr. Janus, from Virginia, I believe. With his servant, Jones. Myself. And our guide. A military man, coincidently. A Col. Ives. He professed to know a new, shorter route through the Nevada's. Quite a route that was. Longer than the normal one. Impossible to travel. We worked very very hard. By the time of the first snowfall we were still one hundred miles from this place, that was November. Preceding though the snow was futile. We took shelter in a cave. Decided to wait until the storm had passed. The storm did not pass. The trails soon became impossible, and we had run out of food. We ate the Oxen. All the horses. Even my own dog. And that lasted us about a month. After that we turned to out belts, shoes, and roots we could dig up... but you know there's no real nourishment in those. We remained famished. The day that Jones died I was out collecting wood. He had expired from malnourishment. And when I returned, the others were cooking his legs for dinner. Would I have stopped it had I been there? I don't know. But I must say. When I stepped inside that cave... the smell of meat cooking... I thanked the lord! I thanked the lord!" - Colqhoun
Unfortunately, the Scotsman turns out to be the very same errant army officer (Ives) and he continues his barbaric barbeque of sorts by consuming more human flesh, eventually inviting the others at the fort to join in eating the gruesome grub.
George, one of the Indians at the fort believes that Ives has turned into a mythical Wendigo, in Algonquin legend which can possess humans who have turned cannibal, thus making them violent and craving more human flesh. By consuming such, a person gains increased speed, agility, and the ability to heal quickly.
"You know, not too long ago I couldn't do that. Could barely take a breath without coughing up a pint of blood. Tuberculosis. That along with fierce headaches... depression... suicidal ambition. I was in pretty horrible shape. In fact I was on my way to a sanatorium to convalesce when a native scout told me a curious story. Man eats the flesh of another, he takes the other man's strength, absorbs his spirit. Well. Naturally I just had to try. Consequently I ate the scout first and you know he was absolutely right. I grew stronger. Tuberculosis? Vanished. As did the headaches and the black thoughts. I returned that spring happy. And healthy. And virile..." - Colonel Ives
“It’s lonely being a cannibal. You don’t get that many friends” - Colonel Hart
With the assistance of Colonel Hart, himself now a cannibal, Ives continues to murder the few remaining solders at the fort. When they run out of soldiers to eat, Ives plans on waylaying more settlers and even conceives of turning General Slauson to the dark side.
Meanwhile, Ives shoots Boyd and forces him to eat human flesh so he can heal his wounds. Boyd reluctantly eats of the forbidden flesh, but, in the end, with the assistance of Hart, who who no longer wants to be a cannibal. After killing Hart, who wanted Boyd to release him from the living hell of being a cannibal, Boyd and Ives battle each other inflicting multiple wounds on each other. But their wounds keep healing, so Boyd lures Ives into a huge bear trap, catching both of them in its metal jaws.
As Ives struggles to survive within the jagged jail of metal teeth, he tells Boyd that he will eat him, but his wounds are too many and deep and Ives is the first to die. Refused to eat Ives' dead body, Boyd dies as well.
When General Slauson arrives at the fort looking for the occupants, he stumbles upon a pot of stew cooking on the fire. Hungry, he eats some of the stew, not realizing it contains bits and pieces of the same soldiers he is seeking.