cannibal ferox | umberto lenzi | giovanni lombardo radice | lorraine de selle | danilo mattei | cannibal | adventure | italy | zora kerova | walter lucchini | fiamma maglione | robert kerman | john bartha | venantino venantini | 'el indio' rincon
Film: Cannibal Ferox
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writer: Umberto Lenzi
Starring: Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Lorraine De Selle and Danilo Mattei
This was a film that I heard about when I got into the cannibal exploitation films. I had also heard that this film was kind of a knock off of Cannibal Holocaust. To get into this review, the official synopsis is three friends out to disprove cannibalism meet two men on the run who tortured and enslaved a cannibal tribe to find emeralds, and now the tribe is out for revenge.
I should lead off with how I can see this film being a knock of Cannibal Holocaust. We do have Gloria Davis (Lorraine De Selle) who is out to disprove that there are cannibal tribes in the Amazon. She is a graduate student working on her doctorate and this is her dissertation subject. Where the other film had a documentary crew that went missing and they had someone come looking for them. This film also has does something similar as well.
Gloria goes with her brother Rudy (Danile Mattei) and Pat Johnson (Zora Kerova). Pat is complaining that she should have gone on vacation somewhere else. We see that she is pretty wild as well. They get what they need and head for the Amazon.
At this point, I should point out that we get scenes in New York. There was a murder of a local drug dealer. The police start to look into it and it brings them to Myrna Stenn (Fiamma Maglione). She is the girlfriend of the prime suspect and she starts to help the police look for him. She reveals that he went to Colombia and then on to Paraguay.
The man she is looking for is Mike Logan (Giovanni Lombardo Radice). He is found with his friend Joe Costolani (Walter Lucchini) as well as two dead natives. The two groups join up in trying to get out of the area. Joe is wounded so it is slow going. Mike tells a story of how the natives went crazy and is trying to kill them for food. Gloria doesn’t believe it, but the natives are hostile toward them. Joe reveals what the true story is before he passes away.
This film also follows the model that the natives are only resorting to cannibalism to punish the people from the civilized country for what they were doing to them. This is literally ripped right from the other films in the genre, so it is hard for me to come down on this film for it. I do like the concept though. Civilized countries seem to go into countries that are less advanced and trying to push their beliefs on them. For this reason, I do like what Gloria does at the end of the film. It is very similar to what happens in Eli Roth’s Green Inferno.
We also get animal violence in this film. I wasn’t as bothered by this film though as the footage of animals attacking other animals, which I don’t really have a problem with. That is just nature. We also see a native killing a turtle, but this looks to be like they were doing it to eat that night. I can’t fault that filmmaker for just filming it.
Pacing for the film was pretty good as well. The film really gets into it and it never went into a lull. I could have done without what happens in New York, as it really doesn’t add much to the film other than we really see how much of a jerk Mike is. It felt more to pad the running time. I did like how we get one version of what happened to the natives and then the truth. It is hard for me to fault them and I like how everything plays out.
The acting for the film isn’t great, but for a film like this it doesn’t have to be. It comes off as more natural from the actors for what we get. Radice plays the jerk very well and I was actively rooting for him to be killed. Seeing what he did, it is fitting. It was pretty harsh though with what happens to him. Selle did great as well. I felt bad for her as she is caught up in everything that happened to her. Mattei was more of the same. Kerova is actually interesting to me. She is promiscuous and wild. She goes along to an extent to what Radice does. I do feel she deserved some punishment, but not really what she gets. The rest of the cast was fine. Shout out to the natives in the film as they did really good I thought being themselves.
Effects for this film were something that I was excited to touch on. They are all done practically and they looked amazing. Some of them actually made me cringe with how realistic they look. This is actually coupled with that the acting also makes it look like it is really happening. All I will say is that we get hooks that are inserted into a woman’s chest that looked very real. We also get a man castrated and people that are cut. They were well done and the reactions help.
The score for this film is quite odd. The dramatic song that is used throughout the film definitely helps with the overwhelming feeling of dread. You know something bad is going to happen soon and it fits very well. There is also a more upbeat song that is used at some odd times that give the scenes a more surreal feel. It is misleading, but I like what they are going for with it. The soundtrack is very 1970’s despite this film coming out in 1981. I really liked it and how it fit the film.
Overall I’d say this film is really good. I don’t think it is as good as Cannibal Holocaust, but I don’t really feel this is a complete knock off. This film is a little bit too on the nose with the message that is trying to convey and I think that kind of hurts the film. I do like the subtext of the film though and that humans can be garbage, even if they are more ‘civilized’. The effects are great in the film and even though the acting isn’t the best, it does help to make them feel even more real. The pacing of the film is also good and the score is as well. I would say this film is good, but it isn’t for everyone. These cannibal films are some of the more graphic that I have seen. If you can handle it, give it a viewing as I think it is worth your time.
My Rating: 8 out of 10