Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cannibal ferox (1981)

...aka: Make Them Die Slowly
...aka: Woman from Deep River

Directed by:
Umberto Lenzi

College anthropology student Gloria (Lorraine De Selle) wants to prove that cannibalism is only a silly myth perpretated by white man, so what does she do? She hops in a plane, travels to South America, heads straight down the Amazon way, jumps in the jungle and then starts poking her nose around hoping that she's correct. Her brother Rudy ("Bryan Redford"/Danilo Mattei) and blonde free-spirited (i.e. slutty) gal pal Pat (Zora Kerova) also come along. Sure, they remembered to pack their bug repellent and toothbrushes, but strangely enough they forgot all about hiring a guide who knows the area, so when their jeep gets stuck in mud, they're forced to walk around on foot. The three come across a pair of highly questionable drug dealers; laughing, leering coke-snorting spastic Mike ("John Morghen"/Giovanni Lombardo Radice) and his milder ('cause he's injured) buddy Joe ("Walter Lloyd"/Walter Lucchini) and they seem to be on the run from something. Turns out that earlier in the day, they tortured, harassed and killed members of a stone age tribe to get their hands on some jewels. Now the primitives are pissed off and in hot pursuit. So yes Virignia, cannibals do indeed exist. Not that it really matters now, cause you're screwed. Our "heroes" try to escape, but a couple are killed and the rest are dragged off to cannibal central to die horrible, slow, torturous deaths.

So you came for the gore and not the story? Well fine then... We have a piranha attack, a guy cut open and getting his guts pulled out, a castration, a partial decapitation and metal hooks driven into breasts. Cannibals feast on bugs, intestines, brains and a severed wang. The special effects (especially the one involving the hooks) are pretty good. On top of all that, we get plenty of the expected unfaked animal slaughter. A turtle, wild boar and alligator are killed (and gutted), a tiger eats a monkey and a snake eats a rodent. There's plenty of male and female nudity, as well. In between all the carnage, boring and completely worthless scenes follow some New York City policemen (including cannibal movie regular Robert Kerman) as they try to locate Mike. The dubbed dialogue is terrible, the characters do moronic things throughout and the music score (while decent) is recycled from Lenzi's EATEN ALIVE.

The movie received an X rating here in America but was released to theaters unrated instead (in 1983), with a false publicity campaign claiming it was "banned in 31 countries" when in reality it was banned in just a few (the UK and Norway namely). It's probably the second most popular of all the cannibal films, right behind the superior CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1979), and while it's a mildly enjoyable and adequately exploitative jungle adventure, there are at least a half dozen better examples of the subgenre. Filmed on location in Colombia. The New York scenes feature Venantino Venantini as a police sergeant, Perry Pirkanen as a mobster, porn actor Jake Teague as a college professor and Meg Fleming (Fiamma Maglione).


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