Cannibal Terror (1980)
By: Drexl on September 10, 2003  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Screen Entertainment (UK). All Regions, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English 2.0 Mono. 90 minutes
The Movie
Director: Allan W. Steeve
Starring:Burt Altman, Sylvia Solar, Gerard Lemaire, Pamela Stanford
Screenplay: H.L. Rostaine
Music: Jean Jacques Lemeztre
Tagline: Deep In The Jungle, The Flesh-Eaters Are Waiting!
AKA:Terreur Cannibale; Terror Caníbal
By some strange coincidence, as I sat down in front of the PC to begin typing out this review a thread appeared on the forums of this very site: 'Name your five favourite cannibal films', or something to that effect. Two films seemed to appear at the top of pretty much every list submitted - Ruggero Deodato's peerless Cannibal Holocaust, a film which actually has something worthwhile to say amidst the bombardment of violence, and Umberto Lenzi's thoroughly entertaining sleaze-fest, Cannibal Ferox (my personal favourite.) Both genre classics, (or in the case of the later - classick), in their own right. Cannibal Terror was nowhere to be seen on the lists submitted - it didn't get a look in. There is a very good reason for it's absence.

Cannibal Terror's plot (yeah, right) would go something like this - prepare to be stunned by the originality of it all. Mario and Roberto are thieves, not especially good ones though, so a swift career change is in order before they starve to death. The clueless pair decide to try their hand at kidnapping, so with the help of a busty female companion, they kidnap a young girl with the bright idea of making a financial killing from her wealthy parents. Needless to say, this grand plan also goes tits-up (in the most ridiculous way imaginable) and the three of them, with the little girl in tow, scoot off to the safety (or so they think) of a friend's house in the jungle, (well, some wasteland somewhere really but hey, it has trees - it's close enough.) The journey to their friend's house isn't entirely uneventful though, as you might expect with a film like this. Pretty soon their female guide unwisely decides to ignore her own warnings to 'stay on the track', as this is 'cannibal country', and dives into the bushes to get some water for the overheating radiator on her jeep. Ooops. She is promptly despatched, in a welter of pig's innards, by a bunch of loons that the filmmakers attempt to pass off as cannibals. The kidnappers, (with the little girl still tagging along), finally arrive at their destination and make themselves at home. Mario makes himself a little too much at home by raping their host's wife - probably not the greatest way to repay someone's hospitality I would have thought. A little revenge is therefore in order, so Mario is tied up in the 'jungle' by his none too pleased host and left to the mercy of the cannibals. Meanwhile, word has got to the little girl's parents of her whereabouts, so they hop on a plane to fetch their daughter, forcing the remaining kidnappers to flee further into the jungle and deeper into 'cannibal country' in an attempt to evade them. I'm sure you can guess the rest...

I won't beat around the jungle, err, sorry - bush here. Cannibal Terror is bollocks. It really is drivel of the lowest order. Thoroughly inept in every single department, this is undoubtedly one of the worst films I have ever seen which, considering some of the garbage I have had the misfortune of sitting through, is quite an achievement. I really don't know where to start with regards to telling you all what's wrong with this film, (although the word 'everything' springs quickly to mind.) For a start the film exhibits a complete lack of skill and effort from everyone behind the camera. It drags along at a snail's pace with scenes of the characters trudging aimlessly through the jungle testing the viewers patience on numerous occasions. Scenes start and end with jarring chops and cheesy fades - edited with a hacksaw perhaps? The soundtrack started to get on my nerves after about two seconds with an appalling music score, a dreadful 'jungle noise' soundtrack and a ludicrous English dub which had me convinced the two main characters' voices had been dubbed by Cheech and Chong. Plot? Yep, that's bollocks as well - see above. Atrocious dubbing aside, the performances infront of the camera are also bottom of the barrel, (did you really expect anything else?) The characters roam around aimlessly, staring into the distance/at the floor with vacant looks on their faces for most of the runtime. If these blank facial expressions were the results of 'what the hell am I doing here?' thoughts going through their heads, then I might forgive them, but somehow I doubt it. Hey, all this aside, the film still has cannibals in it. You can't goof up when playing a cannibal can you? You betcha can. The gut-munchers here are a ridiculous looking mob - fat, white dudes plastered in face paint who grin their heads off while dancing around the fire or chomping on pig's innards. One of them sports sideburns and a quiff that would make Elvis weep at it's Brylcreem fuelled splendour, while some of them wear clearly visible Y-fronts under their cannibal gear. On the plus side, one of the females obliges with a full-frontal nude scene which stirred me from my slumber, but that's the only half-hearted attempt at something good to say that I can come up with. Oh, I did get one laugh out of it, (just the one mind.) Keep a look out for the scene where the husband calls the cannibals to feast on Mario. His method of attracting their attention is priceless….he whistles them, just like you would summon your pet dog…

Some of you may still be tempted to add this disgrace of a film to your collection - justifying such silly thoughts with something like; 'Hey, Zombie Holocaust has bad acting, lousy direction and all the other stuff mentioned above and I love that film!' True words. I love Zombie Holocaust as well, plus Nights Of Terror (for example) is a personal favourite of mine but these are 'good-bad' films. These flicks have a healthy dollop of cheese and grue to lift them out of the gutter and up to the top of the tree as far as corny entertainment value goes. Yes they're ridiculous, but we love them all the more for it. Cannibal Terror has no such qualities and therefore should be consigned to the trash can as soon as possible. Better still, just leave the damn thing in the shop and spend your money on something more worthwhile.

Just to make the experience all the more enjoyable; my Pioneer 525 DVD player which, I might add, has successfully played every disc I have ever owned (prior to this one) without a hitch, decided it didn't want to know when I attempted to give this disc a spin. A couple of trips back to the shop and two exchange copies didn't correct the situation; the film still froze after three or four seconds. In all fairness, I've not heard of any problems with this disc reported elsewhere so I must assume that it took a particular dislike to my player. Either that or my DVD player has better taste/more sense than I do. Anyhow, the player on my PC (Power DVD) had no problem playing the disc, although I'm still not entirely sure if this is a good or a bad thing!
I must admit that I expected this disc to be a bag of nails transfer wise but, nope, Screen Entertainment have served up a very good quality transfer. Colourful, reasonably detailed and, stock footage aside, containing only minor grain. Framed at approximately 1.85:1, this 16/9 enhanced transfer is much, much better than this film deserves, especially when the fact that I wasn't viewing on a stand-alone DVD player is taken into account. (That well worn phrase, 'You can't polish a turd', springs to mind at this particular point though.)
Again, a decent job. The audio track is nice and clear, so the annoying bird noises and godawful score can irritate you all the more effectively. Hisses, crackles and pops are notable only by there absence.
Extra Features
Not a lot is on offer, bonus features wise. A stills gallery is provided for your entertainment containing four video sleeve reproductions and, err that's it. Comprehensive is not the word. The bonus 'goodies' are rounded off with a selection of trailers from the same label, including a beat-up promo for I Spit On Your Grave and not a lot else of interest. The menus are dull, static and scored with that dreadful theme tune. There is no insert in the case. In all fairness, I can't imagine there being much material kicking around that the distributors could offer up as bonus materials. Heck, if I had anything to do with this film I sure wouldn't shout about it, let alone provide a commentary track or similar.
The Verdict
An appallingly bad film that has nothing of interest to anyone, other than cannibal flick fans who feel the need to own every gut-muncher ever filmed and those with an interest in the 'video nasties' fiasco from early eighties Britain. (Cannibal Terror spent a short time on the 'nasties' list before being withdrawn). This version is uncut and is the first (and hopefully last) UK release for nearly twenty years. Gorehounds expecting a barrage of blood-thirsty splatter effects will be disappointed at the general lack of grue on display, and even the most undemanding of genre fans will be appalled at the worthlessness of the whole thing. There are far, far better examples of the cannibal subgenre available without having to resort to viewing this abomination but, then again, I think I've already been unsubtle enough in getting that point across.

Screen Entertainment must be applauded for the quality of the transfer provided, as what is on offer here is of a good standard, considering the zero budget nature of the film in question. I sincerely hope they select something more worthwhile for their future releases though.

There you have it - Cannibal Terror, the worst cannibal flick ever and, quite possibly, the worst movie I have ever seen. Luckily for me, the compatibility issue with my player has given me a get-out clause. Sometimes hardware glitches can be a good thing…

'Hello, Mister shop-keeper. This disc won't play. Can I have my money back please?'

'Certainly Sir. We are sorry for the inconvenience.'

So you damn well should be…
Movie Score
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