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Scraping The Cannibal Barrel...

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Posted 22nd April 2009 at 08:57 AM by Sam@Cult Labs

Deep River Savages

Made a good few years before the late 70s / early 80s spate of gut munching cannibal epics, Deep River Savages might be described as a ground breaking feat of cinematic innovation in an alternate universe. On this planet however, it's a tawdry slice of eurotrash exploitation that, although not as graphic as later entries in the genre cycle which upped the atrocity footage to extreme levels, stills packs a nasty punch.

Directed by Italian journeyman Umberto Lenzi, it sets up a familiar plot, as a westerner gets trapped in a jungle green hell and faces the terror of a primitive tribe and their bizarre customs. Cue stock footage, bad dubbing, torture scenes, weird tribal customs and ritual sex violence. When compared to Lenzi's later entry in this particular horror genre, the infamous and cruelly trashy Cannibal Ferox, it's fairly tame but an important film in the development of European cult movies.

Cannibal Terror

Barrel scraping gutmuncher with the dubious distinction of having been banned by the BBFC during the "Video Nasty" scare of the early 80s, this is a Euro-cheapie designed to cash in on the success of better made "Green Hell" efforts like Cannibal Holocaust, Apocalypse and Ferox. It's nowhere near as nasty as them but still has lots of gut munching and there's plenty of dumb stuff to laugh at with friends. The Jungle dwelling cannibals all seem to sport nice 70s style salon haircuts* and is one of them wearing a wristwatch?

The dubbing is among the worst I've ever heard, with the voice actors remaining stoic and flat even when atrocities are taking place on screen. I've never seen a film where the voice track is so ill matched to the onscreen action. This is a slice of retro horror fun for genre fans but make no mistake, this is an awful movie.

*Like those faded B&W pictures in a provincial barbers window.

Jess Franco's Cannibals

A world away from the utterly sick but well executed Italian Cannibal epics, Jess Franco's grimy cash-in on the short vogue for mildly racist gut happy slaughter horror saw the sleaze minded Spanish director sleep walk through this slack Grindhouse nasty that will entertain those who enjoy the lowest scumbag filmmaking imaginable. Essentially a copy of his previous jungle adventure 'The Devil Hunter', a film that is bizarrely still on the BBFC's banned list, probably due to no one being foolhardy enough to attempt a reissue.

We follow Italian Eurotrash stalwart Al Cliver as he ventures into the South American jungle in search of his missing daughter, who was kidnapped by a tribe of flesh eating savages ten years before in an incident which saw his wife murdered and his left arm devoured (i.e. Tucked into his shirt).

Soon he and his inept gang of explorers are captured by a bunch of tribesmen who look a lot like Caucasian extras with mud splashed on their faces. Luckily for our hero, his daughter is very much alive and now leads the cannibals as their white Queen.

If your looking for pantomime laughs and a film with the production values of a school play then get ready for an evening of gross laughs. The primitives seem to have a good grasp of English, are modelling the latest in 70s haircuts* and you can see their Y-fronts under their loin clothes. This is a really bad film but then, I love really bad films. Franco could sometimes deliver haunting examples of erotic horror, but his bad films are of equal interest to cult film fans...

* Maybe the tribesmen in both movies go to Derek's Hair on the high street.
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  1. Old Comment
    Pete's Avatar
    I remember trying to watch Cannibal Terror. I got about 20 mins in and turned it off. Althogh i'm not scared to admitt i like Francos Cannibals. BTW i wasgoing to do cannibal blog.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 22nd April 2009 at 09:09 AM by Pete Pete is offline
    Updated 22nd April 2009 at 10:37 AM by Pete
  2. Old Comment
    Sam@Cult Labs's Avatar
    Still plenty of scope for a more in depth piece. Link it back to mondo movies, etc
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 22nd April 2009 at 10:47 AM by Sam@Cult Labs Sam@Cult Labs is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Pete's Avatar
    That would take a lot of research. I might just have go at it!
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 22nd April 2009 at 11:50 AM by Pete Pete is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Sam@Cult Labs's Avatar
    Originally Posted by loops View Comment
    That would take a lot of research. I might just have go at it!
    There's lots to tell.

    What I find fascinating about Italian exploitation is the journeyman nature of the directors. They just go with the money and make pictures depending on what's in vogue.

    Westerns in the 60s and early 70s, Giallo, until the bubble burst and ultra-right wing cop fantasties after Dirty Harry.

    What makes the Cannibal films more interesting as a genre is the fact that they have no Hollywood or Mainstream hit to follow on from. Even the Nazi exploitation films had The Damned and The Night Porter to steal from and obviously Kenn Russell's The Devils probably had a lot to do with all those Lesbian Nun films.

    The only precursors to the Cannibal movies might be the Mondo cycle, which traded on the same mixture of fascination with primitive ways and staged repulsion as a shock tactic.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 22nd April 2009 at 12:46 PM by Sam@Cult Labs Sam@Cult Labs is offline
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