Eating People is Easy: Your Friendly, Native Guide to Italian Cannibal Films

Eating People is Easy: Your Friendly, Native Guide to Italian Cannibal Films

The following feature is one of the most violent expositions ever made. There are at least two dozen scenes of barbaric torture and sadistic cruelty graphically written about. If the presentation of disgusting and repulsive subject matter upsets you, please do not read this Italian Horror Week entry. [Paraphrased with liberties from Cannibal Ferox]

If this look intothe annals of Italian Horror Week (part 2) was an Italian cannibal film, there would be a B rate disco music playing over the opening credits featuring broad, sweeping shots of Manhattan; At least the shot would include a cityscape that very much resembled New York City to the untrained eye. The entire blog will take place in an unnamed jungle in another corner of the globe, but for the immediate future please continue to believe that you are in NYC and you’ve got Go Go Boots on and ready to dance.

Italian filmmakers have a knack for perfecting subgenre pieces under the great genus of horror. Giallo, Zombie and of course Cannibal – each one with its own handful of favorite directors and classics as well as iconic films that embody and set the stereotypes for the subgenre. This is not a treatise in Italian Cannibal movies.  Jay Slater wrote and compiled as many articles and interviews a zombie/cannibal retrospective could want in this book Eaten Alive!  After compiling a list of cannibal films from Italy that truly exemplify the genre I can tell you that the trash films outnumber the anthemic pictures.  For every Orgasmo Nero (Black Orgasm) you view you have to watch at least five showings of Ultimo Mondo Cannible (that’s Jungle Holocaust aka Last Cannibal World for those of you not riding Vespas and saying “Ciao”).  I’m here to give it to you straight. After gorging myself on Italian Ice and Italian Cannibal pictures I give you a perspective on the genre: What made it stand out from non-Italian entries.  Why you need to see each picture and which ones you need to ask your parents to cover my eyes during.  For many of you this will be an incomplete list of cannibal films across the world. For others it will give you a jumping off point for which you might begin your feast into humans-eating-humans pictures.

You can thank Mondo Cane and various jungle adventure pictures throughout the 1960’s for assisting the Italians with your love fest with this historic taboo, but it’s as old as the native’s tribes that have practiced it. The subject of cannibals in horror does not start and stop with Chianti and an over piled plate of beans (liver too).  The locations are scattered around the globe stretching from Asia to South America back to North America (remember those famous wide shots of New York City?).  From here on out, with few exceptions, we will not be discussing plots unless it differs from this formula:

[Start plot] American or European goes into the jungle for some reason that seems like a good idea but ends up as a bad idea because there are cannibals in the jungle and, despite best efforts, the party you are with is on the menu. [End plot]

It’s that simple really. Time to see what’s on the good chef has prepared for us this evening.

 Can’t forget your trusty vomit bag. True horror fans don’t need these any way right?

  

The Man from the Deep River aka Deep River Savages aka Il paese del sesso selvaggio aka Sacrifice! (1972)

Let’s talk about sipping beer, wearing aviators in the sun. Let’s talk about taking pictures of the locals (with varying degrees of teeth). Let’s talk about elevator music gone wild and maybe not quite the disco accompaniment that would evolve alongside pop music.  This is the Umberto Lenzi  and you better remember that name… it won’t be the last time you read it. The Man from the Deep River is the classic that started it all for the Italian Cannibal lover.  It embodies everything you’ll come to love about the subgenre and will help you to recognize some of the more common stylistic devices associated with it.  Remember, it’s not the first cannibal film ever made, and it’s not the first Italian movie to reference cannibalism. It’s simply a good place to start.

The first thing you’ll want to notice is that you can take Scandinavian Airlines to get to Thailand. Flying the friendly skies to an unfriendly place? Think Fjord. Second thing you’ll want to pay attention to is the presence of kick boxing (in 1972 no less). What would Van Dam have done if it had not been for Italian cannibals pictures?  Third, if a local gives you advice… maybe, “where the river is thin, you do not go,” you listen and obey.

This picture is shot like a “real” movie. That means you don’t have to swim through film grain to watch it and you can safely assume that the plot will dump you off at a point at which you feel that you’ve actually scene a movie with a narrative.  I can tell you that in Deep River Savages the natives are fairly sophisticated. They have nets, drums, devices of exceptional torturous capacity.

This film clearly demonstrates the inextricable link between animal cruelty, murder, vivisection  and exploitation with the cannibal subgenre.  In this particular picture the viewer should prepare for monkey brains (obviously where Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom got it), cockfighting, snake mutilation and vicious alligator murder. Ever seen a goat trachea? Want to? This one’s got your name on it, sick-o.  I think it’s safe to say that i-Cannibals flicks are not for the PETA crowd.

If you must take two things from watching this picture it should be these: 1. when the natives paint you with green sun markings and hang you from a cross it’s time to really think biblically. 2. “Cars are boxes that make noise, but that’s too difficult for you”. Yes, it is difficult.

 

Jungle Holocaust aka Last Cannibal World aka Ultimo mondo cannibal (1977) – or as I like to call it Cannibal Holocaust #1

Ruggero Deodato. Hero of all cannibal pictures but especially i-cannibals (Italian Cannibals). This is his trial run for a later picture (stop shouting its name at the screen).  There’s quite a bit to talk about with this one.  Of note, the delightful J&B scotch whiskey makes an appearance. This hard alcohol might as well get acting credit in Giallo pictures, but it’s not necessarily as popular in the cannibal genre.  This picture had me questioning whether everyone dressed like Matt Hooper from Jaws after it came out.  Yet another question I had was whether eating shelf fungus really turns you into Regan McNeil. Anybody? Also, how do you take high production value like this and then make a canoe trip down a river look like someone’s throwing a bucket of water in your face?

Since you were waiting for it… ANIMAL DEATHS or Death by animals: Monitor vs. Boa Constrictor (which made me thinks of a Shel Silverstein poem); Human eaten by ants (cheap to imitate… looks great on celluloid); Snake vs. Bat; Constrictor vs. Human; Alligator murder (we’re having alligator again!?) – bash it in the head, cut its head off, skin it … and it’s STILL ALIVE!!! I guess barbequed alligator must be worth it (and leads to public fornication I might add); Cannibal vs. Umbilical Cord (you have to see it). Leeches vs. Human (get ready for the cannibal equivalent of a Will Wheaton/Stephen King moment). Snake milking (does a body good).

My only gripe with this otherwise excellent film would be that our heroes seem to know a wee bit too much about jungle survival. I think you need to make monthly treks into the jungle for at least 3 years before you get your “survival from cannibals” merit badge.  But to counter that “obvious” flaw, Marciello Di Paulo does one hell of a job on the makeup and Ubaldo Continiello makes some beautiful One Flew over the Coo Coo’s Nest -esque music with some strong Theremin presence.  Hey, no animal trainer. I guess you don’t need them when you are planning on eating them.

Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals aka Trap Them and Kill Them aka Emanuelle e gli Ultimi Cannibali (1977)

Up until now we haven’t really mentioned “death by cannibal”. It seems to me that quite often the cannibal caused deaths are pretty blah. Gore gore gore. Somebody went to the butcher counter of at the super grocery emporium (translate that into Italian please) and bought out “the extras”.  Insert into latex shell resembling body, removing with great fervor and shove in mouth. I’ll try to note some of the outlier cannibal deaths; the juicy ones.

Not all pictures start with the song “I’m the Queen”. Did anyone consider doing a disco cannibal music video? You know, Thriller meets New Guinea?  Well if that isn’t startling this one features a fairly common cannibal film death, the breast removal also known as the #8 (would you like fries with that).  If that doesn’t do it for you there’s the standard castration, decapitations, native rituals that revolve around the punishment for adultery. I mean the wives of the relatives eat the man’s penis (are we really so different?).

Everyone knows that Joe D’Amato makes everything semi to full-on pornographic. So really, when you watch this movie it can’t be classified in the cannibal genre. It’s really softcore porn shot in the jungle with cannibal plot filler. My notes read like this: 45 minutes… no blood since the snake bite a few minutes ago;  No human blood since the first reel; 46 minutes… gutting, quicksand, boobs, more breast mutilation, HG Lewis would be proud. Oh and don’t forget the vagina stab/disembowel sequence. How could you!?

Most important observation while watching this picture: Kentucky Fried Movie is playing at one of the theatres in the city shot just before Emanuelle leaves… coincidence? It’s either that or watching a monkey try to smoke a cigarette backwards while naked women are bathing each other in the background. Your call.

 

The Mountain of the Cannibal God aka La Montagna del Dio Cannibale (1978)

 

I had first heard of this film via the Blood Sprayer’s first Italian Horror Week in 2010. With a name like that how could you turn it down?  I think that article was well written and I urge you to look back to it now as it influenced me heavily. To give the short and sweet of my thoughts on it see below… all other’s go hit up Blood Sprayer’s database.

Sergio Martino: Italy’s Unsung Exploitation King

Stacy Keach is a star. We got one!  Animal cruelty prevalent: Slaughtered Lizard; Monkey vs. Python.  The driving force to get these Westerners into the jungle to be eaten by cannibals: The Hunt for Uranium. Too bad they didn’t listen to Doc Brown’s advice from Back to the Future, but of course it hadn’t been released yet. I mean, if plutonium had been available in every corner drugstore in the future, uranium must be found in vending machines!

With so many cannibal movies focusing on the exploitation of women and genital mutilation/murder by genital removal it’s nice to find a movie that only sets a monkey and a python against each other. I’ll tell you that as I watch cannibal movies the only thing I can think of is Elton John singing “Circle of Life”.  I guess we all know that the filmmakers put true scenes of wildlife death juxtaposed with cannibal/human/faux death to hijack the human response to the real death for their own, created death.

To note with this picture is that you have a famous Giallo man at the helm in Sergio Martino. He’s responsible for Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Torso and the Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh amongst others. His works goes way beyond the cannibal genre. A true story teller to be certain.

 

Papaya, Love Goddess of the Cannibals aka Papaya dei Caraibi (1978) (doesn’t this title feel like a rip off of Ilsa She Wolf of the SS made in 1974?)

I’m gonna tell you right now I have very little to say about this picture. Not a fan. We get it. This movie should have been called Naked Woman On the Beach starring Melissa with Sirpa Lane aka Palm Trees and Topless Woman on Vacation.  Highlight: Vincenzo Tomassi edits (you know Cannibal Holocaust, Zombie, the Beyond, House by the Cemetery… everything!). It’s a D’Amato film. You were expecting more than porn, but less than late night on Cinemax? I guess you judge a film by the time it takes to go fruit in mouth to castration i.e. penis in mouth.

I’d call this a waste of time for the horror fan. More sex than some porno movies I’ve seen, but it’s not a waste of time if you have just been released from prison and haven’t seen an attractive woman for years. More nudity per square minute of film. You should always observe the international measurement for nudity in film; that being the square minute… refers to the amount of nudity per area of celluloid.

 

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

The crown jewel of Italian cannibal pictures. Ruggero Deodato makes history and gets arrested for making a “snuff” film.  The world is filled with anger at the cruelty displayed toward animals and human alike. Most of all… without this movie the Blair Witch Project and its ilk will not be made. There are volumes published about this one.

Here’s my briefing: Rape the villagers; kill, kidnap, torture, enslave the villagers; killer animals? Eat them! Puke while eating them. Show the natives how wasteful Western society is (tastefully of course); More rape. Impale the natives. Push ‘em around, show ‘em who’s superior. Antagonize them. Film them. Mutilate them. Brutalize them. REVENGE. Fin.

Deodato takes a giant leap from Jungle Holocaust and creates an epic clash between the past and the future.  His vision cannot be and has not been surmounted even with the classic Cannibal Ferox on its coat tails.

Side Note: Listening to the soundtrack and writing is very relaxing. Driving while listening to the soundtrack is very relaxing. Listening to the score at work, very relaxing. And while it’s relaxing… while you’re feeling perfectly “chilled out” you can’t stop thinking about the vertical, Vlad Dracul –esque impalement via the southern route through mouth.

 

Eaten Alive! aka The Emerald Jungle aka Mangiati Vivi (1980) (not to be confused with the Tobe Hooper film)

If there was a banner year for i-cannibal pictures it would be 1980. Sure plenty of great flicks had been released in prior years, but 1980 was brutal.  That being said we have Eaten Alive. Eaten Alive is a truly fun, action packed cannibal movie with a near and dear narrative, a laundry list of animal mutilations and fun for the whole family (like Kool-Aid or J&B since it makes another appearance in this cannibal classic). Let’s dig in.

Umberto Lenzi directs. Robert Kerman stars. You know Robert Kerman (R. Bolla). Star of the Debbie Does Dallas (what would Dallas do without him). He also bolsters the cast of Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox.  I know that there’s a stigma against porn stars being referred to as “talented” but Robert Kerman is the ultimate hero. His chivalry and heroics are inspired in Eaten Alive. There’s not a pickle he can’t get out of, a bowl of drugged loyalty juice he can’t swallow and not a girl he can’t convince to give him $80,000 to help rescue her sister.

Only cannibal movie to my knowledge to feature Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Twice!  This picture stands s on the shoulders of some of the greats. Amicus for the Toccata and Fugue. H.G. Lewis for the gore. You’ve got the classic shot of Manhattan. The disco music.  There’s less sex in this picture (although not less nudity) and Kerman adds a comedic element that is too often lacking in this subgenre. If you can’t laugh a little at the horror picture you’re watching you leave feeling disgusted rather than having your adrenal gland stimulated. Eaten Alive! Is the cannibal equivalent of a first date movie (please no short ribs before the film).

This film centers around a woman’s search for her sister in the Asia and enlists the assistance of Mark (Robert F’ing Kerman) as her trusted guide. They uncover a massive Reverend Jim Jones style cult complete with the jungle juice variety of Kool-Aid. All you need are some cannibals throw in the mix and the New York City police force backing. You’ve got a picture whose plot outshines quite a few of the other jungle/rape/revenge pictures.

ANIMAL DEATH: Cobra vs. Mongoose; Snake vs. Monkey; Snake Blood Dildo (watch the movie to understand… I’m still not sure I do).  Yes, the Monitor will have the Snake for lunch; Alligator Death. Alligator Attack.  Castrated Penis for the main course, Emerald Python for desert? Skinned and eaten Monitor lizard; Bird vs. Black and Yellow Snake.

What other cannibal flick features Christian hymns? Lines like, “He’s taken over my mind. I can feel it. It’s horrible!” and “They get their meat fresh from people like you”.  Also how many films feature naked woman painted in shiny gold paint? Was this a metaphor for the farcical nature of the Oscars in international cinema? Could be.  My recommendation: enjoy the chest opening scene. You don’t want to miss something that explicit. The effects are so good you can almost feel the rib cage from the inside out.

Also of note Ivan Rassimov, star of Deep River Savages, plays Jonas, the cult leader… nice play on Jim Jones don’t you think?

And now for a word from our sponsor (yeah right!):

 

 

White Cannibal Queen aka Cannibals aka Mondo Cannibale (1980)

We’re talking the lowest quality, worst acting, but maybe… just maybe the most fun you can have watching a cannibal flick, and it’s a Jess Franco flick no less (so that means it should almost be porn right?) I don’t fully understand how I can give this movie any notes at all. Thing is the initial boat attack scene has some music that just creeps me out in that 80′s, overdramatic way.

Your cannibals have makeup that may have inspired by King Diamond or the black metal band, Immortal.  You see these guys eaten before your very eyes, covered in KISS makeup. Who needs KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park when you have KISS dressed up as cannibals and eating each other? I mean, is this artistic? Is this pretentious? It’s definitely Franco.  I guess the real question is where do you find these colors in nature?

Nothing quite like slow motion gore. This is where Cannibal Corpse got their song lyrics or must have inspired the band to choose a name with “cannibal” in the title. I’m sure they really didn’t find influence from this picture, but I bet you the band Necrophagia did.

Observation:  You are a cannibal. You eat human flesh. You wear a loin cloth?

Jess Franco had a vision of the next big wave in cannibal theatre. It went something like this. All gruesome deaths will be unintelligible/viewable. They will look scrambled which will allow our effects team extra coffee breaks as dictated by the union. There will be bad gore effects.  Gore was just the Vice President of the United States in the mid-90’s. Strange screaming not unlike cats mating is a must for any production. There’s nothing more annoying than mating felines.  Also of note:  Was that cannibal wearing a seashell necklace? Is this the Disney of Cannibal flicks? Is there a mermaid cannibal named Ariel in Franco’s future? (nobody mention Mermaid in a Manhole… this is Italian Horror Week). Is this where Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom got its ending from? All valid questions which this movie superiorly raises and never truly answers.

Heart: It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Devil Hunter aka Man Hunter aka Il cacciatore di uomini (1980)

 

1980 was a good year for the cannibal genre. Most of the kinks seemed to be worked out and the formula had been well established by the likes of Lenzi and Deodato.  When Jess Franco and Joe D’Amato get into the mix they started “porning it up”. It’s not enough to have a bunch of naked tribal folk running around trying to eat you; there’s the pressure of sexual intercourse in a savage land. While I can clearly say that Franco is a porn director (and I’ll have words with those of you who would like to tell me different) this movie is on target.

The film quality is classic early 80’s VHS transfer.  The organ music ala Tales from the Crypt/Blood feast doesn’t fit the genre. We saw this in Eaten Alive! And a few other i-cannibal entries. When will these directors learn that the music should fit the setting? It’s not a pet peeve because I rather enjoy it, but I bet at least twenty percent of the success of Cannibal Holocaust can be attributed to its fitting score. Not to stay its pure tribal, but it’s avant-garde, dark and non-classical. Still, the organ seems to work for this one and almost (this is a big leap of faith her kiddies) sounds a bit like the beginning of Nightmare on Elm St. 3.

Naked rich people in their native environment juxtaposed with cannibals in their woodland habitat. Talk about setting the stage. This entry seems a lot like the Carnival of Souls of Cannibal flicks with its obscure almost non sequitur scenes. Female cannibals dancing like the women of New Wave Hookers from the classic Dark Brother porn entry? This doesn’t scream continuity (neither did Carnival of Souls).  Combine the unsettling combination of rich and uncharacteristically hip natives, throw in a slightly higher rape and molestation count, stir in a bug-eyed native and give it the aura of a Nam flashback. It kind of comes off like a bunch of teenagers discovered their parents 8mm camera and decided to make a movie to show off their girlfriend’s naked bodies.  Where is the intriguing blood? Where are the animals being slaughtered for the sake of art? Why is that vagina making that echo-esque/deep breathing sound!? This shot is either a. shot by a perve being flat out pervey. Or b. the vagina is actually deep breathing and this is proof on high quality celluloid and audio equipment.

To quote John Stewart, “You’re moment of Zen”: “I hate the jungle and this humidity”.

So after lots of screaming and about as much blood as pre-H.G. Lewis fare with more naked people than a nudist colony… the plot never bore any fruit. You know something though; if you can’t like the characters, enjoy the effects.  If they suck, enjoy the naked people and if they overdo that (and they do) enjoy the music … and when you’ve heard all the music… get the robots from MST3K out.

 

Black Orgasm aka Orgasmo Nero (1980)

So there was cannibalism first, then the nudity… then naked gyrating women. On beaches.  Over and over again. The movie is Black Orgasm.  I guess I need to learn to expect the obvious from these films. There is a clear cut reason why you may not have heard of or seen this picture.

This is not a cannibal movie. This is simply semi-soft core porn (as opposed to soft serve porn). And then… ends with another cannibal shot. A woman eats her husband given to her by her newly found tribal lover. Fin! It’s Joe D’Amato and as we previously mentioned, he and Jess Franco are in a “Who can show the most nudity in a movie without having it outright labeled porn while having it play to the cannibal crowd” contest.  This one could be the deciding picture. Don’t waste your time if you’re looking for human eat human action.

 

Cannibal Ferox aka Make Them Die Slowly (1981)

Personal interlude: This picture is the one that got me into the cannibal genre.  I used to go to my uncle’s video store in east Jersey. The West Coast Video there had the most amazing selection of foreign and obscure horror classics. Blood Feast. Pieces. Mondo Cane. And of course Make Them Die Slowly (that’s how I saw it). I’m not quite sure how seeing a woman hung on meat hooks by her breasts at such a young age affected me.  Only my psycho analyst knows for sure.

Lenzi makes his version of Cannibal Holocaust and in the bidding war between Lenzi and Deodato for King of the Cannibals, I think this decides it… only not for Cannibal Ferox. When Lenzi creates Cannibal Ferox, he fails to capture the same out and out realism, the sense of true scandal, the honest acting in Cannibal Holocaust. It’s a fabulous piece of cannibal fiction ripe with all of the love and hunger that make a great cannibal picture. It has inspirational (inspirational?) versions of every cannibal death you can imagine for castration to animal massacre and, as previously stated, take the breast mutilation one step beyond.

I want you to enjoy this picture with all your heart and consider it one of the best. Even the music will creep you out. It’s got a troop of experienced cannibal actors and one of the best at the helm. It’s just the sinking of the flesh eating Titanic I’m afraid.

The lights are slowly shutting on the i-cannibal genre. As Soon as 1981 hit, Cannibal Holocaust set the benchmark to an unattainable level of craftsmanship and vomitous; the exploitation of an exploitation genre had begun. Directors saw the sinking ship and made their last pictures. New directors were hired to fill in from folks like Lenzi, Deodato, Franco and D’Amato who were moving on to new cash cows.  Let’s see where the whole thing ends up. Say goodbye to narrative.

 

Cannibal Terror aka Terror Canibal (1981)

 First thought: The music is a cross between La Bamba and the theme from Crocodile Dundee. Broad sweeping shots of the harbor.  You can tell the genre is really going downhill by the exceptionally bad quality (not funny bad. Bad bad).  If the music doesn’t do it for you… If the fact that your clearly not in New York City doesn’t grab your attention…. Maybe this piece of dialogue will stir you to awareness, “Kids, I thought you hated kids. Maybe you wanna get your flippity floppity boobies lifted”. It’s practically scripture.

The editing! The costume design! The Makeup! This films looks like it was shot in the middle of Virginia… We’re talking film quality ala convenient store bathroom, upskirt camera quality. When you have no plot, when you have no humor, when the dialogue is consistently funny (remember the boob line before), you have to depend on natives sneaking up on you … and then you have to fire a handgun at them and miss just to even remotely begin to save this picture. Somebody’s got eat somebody in this damn movie!

I think I see what happened in this train wreck of a cannibal picture… they invested all their money in a side of cattle and then had people rip it apart after filling it with Karo syrup. The real actors in this film are the cows. Nothing endearing here at all (except for the cows). Shots of animals in the zoo do not count as jungle wildlife! I guess when you’ve got Director Alain Deruelle behind the camera all bets are off… What? What’s that you say? Alain Deruelle? Oh he directed Pornographie special – Rage Porno in ’77. Remember that one?

 

Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story aka Schiave bianche: violenza in Amazzonia (1985)

Guys this one based on a TRUE STORY.  Welcome to Roy Garret Country and Elivre Audry Land.  Going to the Amazon for Summer Vacation? – First mistake. You’d think family or friends might warn you to stay away from cannibal infested anywhere.  We are so bless in the early 2000’s to have travel agents and corporate cruise vessels (complete with vomit bags).

The narrative style and the atrocious acting leave this one to be a cheap imitation of the gore stores from early cannibal pictures. It doesn’t seem to follow the formula of nudity for half the movie followed by lots of animal death, topped off by cannibalism. There’s something about cheesy horror organ that I love and isn’t interesting that it actually has become a staple in the cannibal genre circa 1985. Mario Gariazo took a big career leap when he went from Very Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind to Amazonia to Taxi Killer.

The scariest part of this movie is either the Monkey’s Paw esque scene (ala Tales from the Crypt) or the smiles on the faces of the natives as the girl is raped. You pick. Maybe the rape by plant sequence should be the most horrifying scene but in 1985 you might have to take that up with Sam Raimi. I think all in all you’ve got “twist” ending that leaves you long for Chubby Checker.  Nothing to see here folks, but if you’re fan of consistently overdone, brain damaging narration this one might be your MST3K pick for cannibal night at the Jones’s.

 

Massacre in Dinosaur Valley aka Cannibal Ferox 2 aka Nudo e selvaggio (1985)

By  1985 how were tourists, much less film makers going to the Caribbean, Manila or South America? It’s a puzzle. 13 years of Italian warnings unheeded. I guess if the protagonists in the film listen to the soundtrack along with the viewer you’d be assured a happy ending?

So did the whole copyright thing catch up with Italy’s favorite liquor? I mean where’s the J&B (the bottle of liquor is generic).  Maybe the Giallo guys approached the Cannibal guys and said, “Hey, J&B is our signature… back off or we’ll let the masked guy with black gloves do something to your eyes while you’re sleeping and vulnerable”.

The acting is in this picture is the worst yet (next to Papaya of course). So much for realism. What did you do when a giant snake attacks one of your party? You find a completely different snake and kill that leaving the larger snake alive and ready to pounce. There’s a nice scene with Piranha stripping a leg clean to the bone… didn’t the movie Piranha do that? You’ve got quicksand, an alligator…  Doesn’t the jungle have anything else to offer?

Instead of calling this a sequel to Cannibal Ferox, it should have been called Redneck Ferox with Emeralds and Kissing. I was half heartedly expecting “Cannibal Holocaust II” (if that is its real name) would leave the genre with a shred of decency.  It’s pretty obvious it couldn’t possibly be a true sequel as was obvious with Cannibal Holocaust II. The good part: No one’s really heard of this crap picture. With a name like Massacre in Dinosaur Valley it must be the 1950’s and somebody must be doing stop motion animation right? Michel Massimo Tarantini is still making movies to this day. What movie do you think prepared this director for Cannibal Ferox 2? I would bet it was A Policewoman on the Porno Squad or A Man Called Magnum.

 

The Green Inferno aka Cannibal Holocaust II aka Natura Contro (1988)

This is where the cannibal train let’s you off. The end of an era starts and stops with a complete bastardization of all that was wonderful in Deodato’s vision, Cannibal Holocaust.  It’s your typical “slap a successful movie title on it” sequel game. I will say I think the term “green inferno” wraps up the entire cannibal genre quite nicely.

I had to watch this puppy in Italian with no subtitles. No dubbing. It was the only version I could locate on short notice i.e. before Italian Horror Week 2.  I think this movie was better for me not knowing what the actors were saying.  You can make up your own narrative or read along on any plot summary but cannibal movies by 1988 have pretty much decided that plot is as disposable as the tissues you shove in your bra.

“Meanwhile, behind the facade of this innocent looking bookstore”… anthropologists are dorking out.  Somewhere between the times the NES was released and Genesis was to come out… people raced frogs…maybe this the native version of Frogger? Did you know: You can also resuscitate a monkey with a piece of hose if you find a monkey in need of CPR. Oh and just an FYI… spiders… big ones. If you have arachnophobia like I do and can’t sleep after watching movies with our dear eight legged friends, prepare the valium now.  Beyond giant spiders (that are of course supposedly poisonous which is complete false), large constricting snakes, bats, grubs (for food of course) and ants… not to mention green, Emerald Pythons, cheetahs. Are these films being made in public zoos at this point? I suppose it would cost less than to flying remote.

If you’re going to watch this movie, and you’re not going to, but if you were considering it I want to point out that there are some creative elements. You get to see a snake castrate a troublemaker. One of the bad guys is dressed nearly identically to Han Solo (no blaster, no Greedo).  There’s an ending that clearly inspired the makers of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (as if they’d seen Green Inferno). How many movies end in a hot air balloon ride? Not too many, right? Now, how many cannibal flicks end this way? Sacrilege!

I think they hired one of the cinematographers from Mondo Cane to give this one some street cred. I’m pretty sure they didn’t realize that Antonio Climati works best when he doesn’t require actors in front of the camera (only real natives please).

Bonus feature:   How to cook a human placenta and eat it. Legal cannibalism at its finest. MANGI!!!

Written by Jimmy Terror  who can be found at Dr. Terror’s Blog of Horrors


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Dr. Jimmy Terror, more commonly known as James P. Harris, has been “writing your eyes” shut since 2010 with his horror themed blog Dr. Terror’s Blog of Horrors (whose name is a play on words derived from the Amicus film, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors). In the early 2000’s he fronted the band The Vaudeville Vampires, a short-lived Horrorabilly band which saw the creation of a catalog of horror related songs before disbanding (with only one, six song demo ever being produced and distributed). He has had only one on screen appearance to date in the horror/suspense short, Ocean Parkway, as maniacal, gloved killer with a hair fetish. Having done some un-credited, behind the scenes work in some low budget genre pictures, he is currently working on his first foray into screenwriting with a demonic, retro gore entry that pays homage to Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento as well as other Italian masters of the genre.

2 Responses to “Eating People is Easy: Your Friendly, Native Guide to Italian Cannibal Films”

  1. Awesome list!

    • Thanks. The difference between this list and other lists compiling Italian cannibal films is slim; a. no humans were injured during the making of this post and b. I didn’t perish due to an overwhelming presence of naked people (people do die you… from too much nudity).

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