Thursday, September 22, 2011

Video Nasties: Cannibal Ferox

You are who you eat.  The Cannibal genre was a really big thing in the late '70s and early '80s, mostly coming from Italy.  Why were they so obsessed with it?  I don't know, but I've always been a fan of this controversial series.  Although, to be fair, a lot of them feel the same.  Person goes to the jungle to look for loot/family member/lost person, hires stubble-covered guide and runs across natives that are violent.  Some of them flip the script a bit- i.e. Cannibal Holocaust- but a lot of them stick to the formula too tightly.  Hell, at least three Cannibal films I've seen involve male castration and two of them involve women being painted up for a ceremony.  Those are both quite specific!  Today's film is one of the most controversial ones, standing between The Man From Deep River and Cannibal Holocaust.  I should really get to that first film at some point, shouldn't I?  This film is notable for starring Giovanni Lombardo Radice and Robert Kerman, the latter of whom was also in Cannibal Holocaust and Eaten Alive, since his agent liked to give him Cannibal films...I guess.  The question: does it live up to those films?  Let's find out as we look up the word 'Ferox' and discuss...
The film puts up a warning that says that the film is really, really violent and disturbing.  Good to know.
A group of people go out to the Jungle.  Why?  Does it really matter?  This is all just an excuse to have people get skewered, after all.
Giovanni is their Guide and he's kind of a violent asshole.  Of course, it's Giovanni Lombardo Radice, so that's no surprise.  He was always a scumbag in these films.
Shock of all shocks- Giovanni's story about the villagers being ignorant cannibals is a lie.  He actually killed and tortured them to get some gems.  They get their revenge on 'Lil Giovanni though.
It's kind of a tough break for the women, as they didn't kill any villagers, but still get caught up in the whole thing.  Their punishment- being stuck in a giant clay pot.  Odd.
The torture/killing section of the movie is long and rough.  Of course, parts like this just seem silly.
In The End, most of the group makes it home and the lead actress gets all the material on Cannibals that she needs for her degree.  Hurray?
Am I actually bored with Cannibals?  The plot of this movie is pretty simple, but also a bit formulaic.  I say that both in modern context and the contest of the time.  The Cannibal film transitioned out of the Jungle Peril film, with many films- The Man From Deep River and others- blurring the line between the two.  All of the tropes and conceits show up here.  Some of them- like Slave of the Cannibal God- mix up the tropes a bit, while this one doesn't.  If Giovanni had been the good member of the Guide group and not the bad one, they may have had something.  Don't get me wrong- his character is great, but you do see the twist coming from the get-go.  The film's pacing bothered me a bit, not quite matching with the others.  Quality-wise, it's a step or two above the imitators, but nearly as good as Cannibal Holocaust or as truly-exploitative as Eaten Alive.  I'm sure that many of you may disagree, but I'll remind you who's fake name is on this blog.  I'll leave you with this odd attempt at comedy on the DVD Menu...
Next up, a movie about lots of random killing.  Can you actually put too much murder in a film?  Stay tuned...

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