Cannibal Terror (1981)
By: Julian on December 10, 2008  | 
DVD
Severin (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 93 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Allan W Steeve
Starring: Sylvia Solar, Gerard Lemaire, Pamela Stanford, Olivier Mathot
Screenplay: ulio Pérez Tabernero, HL Rostaine, Jess Franco, Ilonoa Kunesova
Country: France/Spain
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
I think, dear reader, that there's something seriously wrong with me.

Because when I slipped Cannibal Terror into the DVD player, sat through its hour-and-a-half running time and then replaced it back in its white amary case, I thought: what a load of shit. Six months ago, I would've devoured this sort of stuff with an appetite akin to the titular antagonists. Instead of a hilarious popcorn flick, I saw a really grimy, unrewarding hack-job, more so than the usual Eurotrash which I have astoundingly high tolerance for.

So, doing what every self-respecting reviewer should, I watched it again.

And upon this second viewing, I came to the same sad conclusion: Cannibal Terror, a film which should have been brilliant based on the title alone, was godawful. Irredeemable. Unconscionably bad.

The French/Spanish co-production that's garnered a solid one-point-nine on IMDb at time of writing is without a doubt one of the cannibal genre's veritable low points. It hit the DPP's video nasty list back in the eighties, but there's nothing here that will appeal to any gorehound: it's certainly a far cry from "a catalogue of perversions" as the quote on the slick so generously describes it. While we're treated to some remedial scenes of flesh eating, director Alain Deruelle (under the pseudonym "Allan W Steeve") has all but copied-and-pasted the best bits from Lenzi and Deodato, and whacked them in with as much directorial flourish as a garden gnome.

Cannibal Terror really has little to recommend it by unless you're one of those OCD-undiagnosed completists.. Even the cover slick attempts to profiteer on the "so bad it's good" adage – "What follows is a mind-roasting exercise in atrocious acting… and gut-munching mayhem by a ravenous tribe of flesh eaters who inexplicably sport comb-overs and Elvis sideburns". By mid-way through, you'd be waiting for the King to belt out A Little Less Conversation. Or even spout some champagne comedy as moribund as that last sentence.

Ahem.

A trio of criminals (whose inane dialogues are dubbed in truly dreadful fashion) kidnap the young daughter of a wealthy fat cat, and take her to a jungle hideout. Terror of a human-on-human devouring nature takes place. Said maneaters have sideburns resembling those of a fifties musical icon. Fight to escape, blah blah blah. Needless to say, this mob of cannibals are real dolts – the lack the smarts of their primitive companions in Ferox and Holocaust. Bumbling idiots that make those stunned mullets wowed by a flick-knife in Holocaust look like geniuses of latter-day Western society.

But, granted, they got-a da style…

First off, I'll take an, uhm, bite out of the actors first. Picking up on acting ineptitudes in a zero-budget exploitation movie is flogging a dead horse, but I'll do so anyway – I chewed up 90 minutes watching this dreck, so I might as well make a good job ensuring you don't make the same mistake. Not one manages to turn in even a moment that could qualify as "inspired performance". There's nothing in the vein of Robert Kerman's professor out of his comfort zone, or Giovanni Lombardo Radice's gleefully sociopathic fruitcake.

The screenplay was a joint effort by two Spanish writers, Julio Pérez Tabernero and HL Rostaine. Although, more interestingly, one "Jesus Franco" is said to have had uncredited input. Given his prodigious output in the industry at that point in time, such a credit isn't that surprising. The script is bottom of the barrel material if you can get past the twenty five minutes or so where absolutely nothing –and I mean nothing – even remotely stimulating takes place. I must admit, though, Senors Taberno and Rostaine may have provided me with the most entertainment the film had to offer. Consider this pithy and exceedingly well scribed exchange:

A: She's really beautiful.

B: Yeah, she's beautiful.

A: You can say that again.

B: She's beautiful.

Director Deruelle is incompetent at a really base level. His fundamental inability to direct a scene well, frame a scene well, light a scene well, have his actors operate well is invasive in its (lack of) quality. No doubt adding to the confusion are two uncredited directors - co-writer Julio Pérez Tabernero and actor Olivier Mathot are both said to have directed portions of the film.

Cannibal Terror is a dilapidated attempt at cashing in on the Italian cannibal film boom – it adds nothing to the genre and is a complete waste of time.
Video
Cannibal Terror is presented in a 1:66:1 aspect ratio (the slick incorrectly states 1.85:1), with 16:9 enhancement. The transfer isn't terribly bad, but it's by no means good – certainly not a patch on some of those crystal-clear Euro-exploitation restoration jobs. Although in Severin's defence, I can't imagine vault materials being terribly good.
Audio
Severin has presented this film with an English 2.0 mono track. It's truly terrible, a real chore to listen to. Volume is inaudible below a certain level, and distorted above it. No subtitles to help things along, either.
Extra Features
A deleted scene and a theatrical trailer. Ordinarily, I'd piss and moan about how poor that collection is, but I doubt much more was available.
The Verdict
Give it a definite miss. Cannibal Terror is nothing more than a cheap redux of the Italian cannibal flick, with not a single redeeming feature that elevates this above 'rip-off' status.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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