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Cannibal Ferox (1981)

DVD Cover (Grindhouse Releasing)
Director:
Umberto Lenzi Umberto Lenzi
Starring:
Giovanni Lombardo Radice Giovanni Lombardo Radice
Lorraine De Selle Lorraine De Selle
Danilo Mattei Danilo Mattei
Zora Kerova Zora Kerova
Walter Lucchini Walter Lucchini
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6.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Cannibal Film, Horror, Jungle Film, Sadistic Horror
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Review by Chad
Added: December 19, 2004
Our feature film takes place in the amazon jungle, where two sets of people are exploring the wilderness for two very different reasons. On the one side, we have a cocaine addict by the name of Mike Logan (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) and his buddy Joe Costolani (Venantino Venantini). They're hiding out down here after Mike ripped off some mobsters back in his hometown in New York, and have found out about an abundant supply of precious gemstones that supposedly lay at the bottom of a river. When the search for these gems comes up with zero results, Mike goes a bit nuts and kills off a few of the local natives that were helping him, but not before torturing a few of them. Meanwhile, a group of young folks consisting of Gloria Davis (Lorraine De Selle), her brother Rudy (Danilo Mattei), and Gloria's friend Pat Johnson (Zora Kerova) are doing research for Gloria's upcoming book; Gloria claims that cannibalism never existed, and was made up by white people in order to lessen the value of the natives lives back when slavery was abundant. She reasons that by making the journey to this village, she can prove that cannibalism does not exist and has never existed throughout the history of the world. Of course, our two sets of heroes eventually meet up with one another, with Joe having taken a spear to the leg from one of the natives and slowly dying off. They quickly find out that the natives want revenge for what Mike and Joe did back at their village, and they're not too picky about where that vengeance comes from... our scholarly kids are just as fair game as the guilty parties of the group.

There's an absolute load of movies in the cannibal genre, but this one usually ends up with the most praise and controversy attached to it. That praise is well deserved, in my opinion, as this movie is the best out of the films I've seen from the genre (and I've seen my fair share of cannibal films). However, I do believe that the controversy surrounding this film is not quite as founded. Yes, it's a graphic film, but it's nowhere near the worst that I've seen, not even from this particular genre. There's some excellent gore effects and inventive kills, but nothing that would warrant the banning of the film in over thirty countries (this is the claimed number... I'd believe it, but couldn't vouch for the accuracy). The main problem that people tend to have with this movie is the fact that there's a number of scenes where animals are killed which are not staged shots... when you see those animals dying on-screen, you're witnessing an actual animal snuff film of sorts. Now, this isn't to say that animals are tortured or needlessly slaughtered, as more than a few of the kills are merely one animal eating another; this is nothing more shocking than what one could see on any given night by turning on The Discovery Channel. There's one scene where a tortoise is chopped up in order to make a meal, but whether or not the beast actually ended up in a soup bowl eludes myself. There's actually only one scene where an animal was killed for the sole purpose of the movie's storyline, and that animal was a pig... I'm sure the crew was eating ham that night. Basically, you may want to skip this one if watching animals die is something that disgust you, but really, it's nothing worse than what one could see on any nature documentary.

Now then, with all the comparisons and controversy out of the way, back to the movie itself. The main reason why I believe that this one reigns supreme over the other cannibal films is due to the fact that there's actually a decent (albeit far-fetched) script in play, with just the right ratio of storyline to action. The story found here is far from groundbreaking, but it's certainly better than what most of the other cannibal films come up with. Things move along quite nicely, with nary a scene that would warrant a yawn or a fast-forward. The only problem I had with the storyline itself was the way that things kept cutting back to everyone's home state of New York, showing us some cops trying to track down Mike for his criminal activities. While the beginning of this subplot was warranted, as it set up the reasoning behind Mike being down here in the jungle, it tended to carry on for much longer than it should have. Gangsters are brought into the picture, Mike's girlfriend shows up, the cops trail people in search of clues, the whole nine yards. While these cut-scenes were pretty scarce, they were there enough to seriously start annoying me. In my humble opinion, everything dealing with New York should have been cut from the film, with the exception of the introduction to Mike's character and the end scene; this would have made the movie flow along much nicer, and it would have prevented the atmosphere that was built up during the jungle scenes from being diminished. Otherwise, the film is nearly completely flawless when compared to similar movies in the genre. The acting found here is nothing to write home about, but if you're a fan of these types of films, I'd imagine that you're quite used to that... I sure am. The one exception to that rule is Giovanni Lombardo Radice (Mike), who played out the sadistic asshole to absolute perfection. Very good job from this fellow, and he managed to steal most of the scenes that he was involved with.

If you've seen some of the other cannibal films, don't go into this one expecting a wildly different plot. While the storyline behind it is better than most, the general gist of the movie is still the same. However, if you've not seen this one, it's definitely a recommendation. This one completely set the standard that other cannibal movies should have measured up against. 9/10, and only one point away from a perfect score due to those annoying cut scenes back to New York.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 11/21/2007, 10:37 PM
Much better than Eaten Alive, but not as good as Cannibal Holocaust. This is an amazing movie, aside from - as Chad mentioned - the boring New York scenes with the poppy, obnoxious music.
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