Cannibal Ferox (1981)
Cannibal Ferox (1981)
Umberto Lenzi’s controversial Cannibal Ferox was promptly placed among the ‘video nasties’ immediately upon its release. It has a very similar story to Deodato’s masterpiece, Cannibal Holocaust, but not framed in the ‘found footage’ way. Basically, a group is out to prove that cannibalism is a myth. Lo and behold they stumble upon a tribe of cannibals (I bet you didn’t see that coming). After that point the plot is a bit hard to follow, but there’s plenty of gore. After all, it’s a cannibal film; if you want a well thought-out story or top-notch acting, look elsewhere. Similar to Lenzi’s previous cannibal film, Eaten Alive, the main characters basically choose between attempting to escape through the hazards of the jungle or cooperating with the tribe (as it turns out, cannibals are difficult to reason with however). For an idea of stuff that never actually happens in the movie, just check out the tagline: “They raped and killed his sister while he watched helplessly. Now it’s his turn to Make Them Die Slowly”.
Giovanni Lombardo Radice a.k.a John Morghen (Cannibal Apocalypse and City of the Living Dead) stars as the unpredictable drug dealer who incurs the wrath of a cannibal tribe on a hunt for emeralds (X-rated Indiana Jones film?). Radice should be very familiar to Italian film fans as David Hess’s slightly less evil friend in House on the Edge of the Park, and from the other films mentioned before, and plenty more (The Church, StageFright, The Sect). Basically, if you don’t recognize him, you don’t watch enough Italian horror (we forgive you, but you’d better fix that soon). Walter Lucchini (Iron Master) is his partner in crime. Lorraine De Selle (House on the Edge of the Park and Caged Women), Danilo Mattei (Iron Master), and Zora Kerova (Anthropophagus and The New York Ripper) are the three friends unlucky enough to stumble upon the tribe and the drug dealers. Although a majority of the music is ‘borrowed’ from Eaten Alive, it remains a great soundtrack from composers Roberto Donati and Fiamma Maglione.
As one of our readers (who has his own blog) pointed out, Italian cannibal films tend to have several things in common. The two that Cannibal Ferox takes to a whole new level are: 1) boob mutilation (death by hooked boob hanging, anyone?) and 2) castration. If that very sentence makes you squirm, this one isn’t for you. Sure they’re strange themes, but if you want to shock an already desensitized audience, you go for the unusual (decapitation is so 1960′s). As cheesy as this movie can be at times, the gore scenes pack a punch. It is intended to make you uncomfortable (come on tough guy, the castration scene got a wince out of you at least).
Here’s a fun little piece of random trivia that I’ve pulled direct from IMDb.
No matter what anyone tells you, there is one reason that fans of cannibal films like them: gore. Sure there’s the drama and sometimes romance thrown in, but the reason that fans go for this film and Cannibal Holocaust instead of Lenzi’s own Man From Deep River is for the gore. Not that I would dissuade you from watching Man From Deep River (it basically pioneered the genre, after all), but gorehounds will almost always prefer this one. If you’re not looking for gore, then the whole sub-genre should stay well out of your realm of interest. As far as cannibal films go, Cannibal Ferox is spectacular. No it does not have the raw feel and unsettling effect of Ruggero Deodato’s king of cannibal exploitation, but it makes up for that in cheese and gore.