Cannibal Ferox (1981)
By: Michael Helms on March 11, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Siren Visual Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English 2.0. 89 minutes
The Movie
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Starring: Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Lorraine De Selle, Danilo Mattei, Zora Kerova, Walter Lucchini, Meg Fleming, Robert Kerman, 'El Indio' Rincon
Screenplay: Umberto Lenz
Country: Italy
AKA: Women from Deep River; Make them Die Slowly
While part of the Italian film industry in the late 70's was intent on emulating George Romero's success another major portion of participants were biting into a different subgeneric chunk: the cannibal film. Carrying on a fascination with indigenous peoples that has existed since the dawn of cinema by this time work was also required for the burgeoning world of make-up special effect artists. Filming on the streets of New York or some South American backwater could also enable drug use to complete the Holy trinity of sex and violence and of course increase the customer cache.

A prologue with a funky soundtrack has a guy dropping in on his dealer only to be confronted by two thugs also looking for, "Mike". Unfortunately for our wannabe drug purchaser they're severely pissed that Mike's ripped them off and want to hit someone. Laying into the 'innocent', they repeatedly call him "shitface", before shooting him. The cops arrive and decide to track Mike by searching for his girlfriend. Cut to a jungle setting and a trio, Rudy, his sister Gloria and female friend Pat drive around in a jeep before meeting with two police reps in order to find their way to the village of Manjoca. The blonde gal, Pat, picks up one of the cops in order to get gain shower access back at his place and disappears for the night. A radio news story about cannibalism prompts Gloria, the leader of the little group, to proclaim that cannibalism doesn't exist which is her academic thesis. Cannibal Ferox is a myth she says. On a boat a guy hurriedly eats a giant blue butterfly in order to avoid bad luck (?!). Our team are given a small bandicoot type creature in order to divert snakes away from them at their camp. Journeying deeper into the jungle they blow the engine of the jeep before coming across a native eating oversize live bugs. A dozen natives appear behind them. An Anaconda crushes their decoy as they sleep. They then come across two dead natives caught in a spike ball trap. Pat cracks up and has to be slapped back into sensibility. Two white guys appear. One is hurt and one is Mike who immediately endears himself to Pat by doing coke. They've been attacked by cannibals. They'd come to the jungle in search of a coke supply but were diverted up river by the lure of emeralds. Mike talks of a Portugese guy who had helped them but ended up being strung up by the natives and supplying them with his genitals for dinner. Mike and the blonde get it on. A leopard kills a monkey. Rudy and the other guys wander off and come across a native village where they discover a rotting corpse tied to a pole. The sister falls in a trap with a wild piglet in it. Mike leaps in and kills it. When she questions Mike's actions he responds with the immortal line, "What, you get off on ecology do you twat?' The indios begin to hang around them but keep their distance. A snake and iguana fight. Mike and Pat get naked. Mike forces Pat to make it with a native girl. Her male partner complains. Mike shoots the female and the male runs off. A bunch of Indios kill a live giant turtle. Mike's damaged partner Joe begins to hallucinate about piranhas. Rudy and Gloria begin to seriously regret the whole trip. In a moment of lucidity Joe tells the truth about how they ended up where they are. Mike goes on a coke fuelled rampage. He removes the body parts of a native and after moaning all night eventually dies. Mike and the blonde leave with all the supplies. The Indios are enraged. Back in New York Mike's gal, or rather landlady, is shown leading a tourist group through Chinatown. In the jungle Indio males who have been absent turn up and gut Joe. They capture and cage everyone by the river except for Mike who is strung up and has his dick docked and eaten on the spot. Mike's gal is bashed by thugs and found by cops. Meanwhile in the jungle Mike has his debilitating wound cauterized and everybody is loaded onto boats. Rudy runs off only to fall in the water and be eaten by piranhas. The rest are placed in mud chambers. The sister revises her thesis to state that violence breeds violence and that man is the problem. The girls are dropped guts on a hook for food but don't in case it's Rudy and decide to sing a song instead. The natives gut and eat a live baby croc. Mike escapes only to have his hand chopped off. Pat gets strung up on hooks by her breasts. A plane flies over that leads to the rescue of the survivors but not before Mike has the top of his skull removed and his brains eaten raw. Months later back in New York a still traumatized Gloria recieves her doctorate.
Apparently using the bottom of a Coke bottle for a lens this film actually looks better as a tenth genration dub. Seriously, this disc does make the barely adequate cinematography entirely viewable.
Budy Maglione's score is frequently too groovy for Cannibal Ferox and the sound effects just aren't juicy enough however you will want to sing along to the girls rendition of Red River Valley if you can hold back the laughter.
Extra Features
The Verdict
Although some of the above might sound harrowing Cannibal Ferox is cheesy A-grade exploitation all the way. Simply relentless from dumbass dialogue to far from special effects, Cannibal Ferox is only likely to offend animal lovers turned off by the slaughter of fauna. Otherwise this is an ideal six-pack film that comes on like a Roger Corman movie on crack that actually delivers. Rarely does such an annoying screen character, Giovanni (a.k.a John Morghen) Radice's Mike receive the comeuppance he deserves. Where else besides another cannibal flick are you going to see all the extras chew the scenery and most of the main cast? Actually, besides Radice the acting is so poor here that Robert Kerman from Debbie Does Dallas stands out as a New York detective. All round shabby Cannibal Ferox is still a major badfilm recommendation and absolutely required viewing.
Movie Score
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