Cannibal Connoisseur, Jason Driver’s Top Eight Tasty Treats!
The only non-Italian film on our list, this film was made by the prolific – and sometimes ‘hit and miss’ – Spanish director, Jesús Franco. Unfortunately, WHITE CANNIBAL QUEEN is one of the occasions where Franco misses and decides to hop on the bandwagon with a much lower budget, and weaker entry. He even admits that it is the worst of the genre. The film is about a guy played by Al Cliver who previously loses his daughter and an arm to cannibals. He goes back to rescue her and discovers that she has become the Queen of the cannibal tribe. The FX are laughably bad, with Cliver’s supposed missing arm often visibly tied behind his back, and the primitive cannibals played by actors who forget to remove their wedding rings and digital watches. It also contains several similar locations and actors as Deruelle’s CANNIBAL TERROR from 1981.
Deodato’s first foray into the genre, LAST CANNIBAL WORLD is where he cuts his teeth before the ultimate CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Even though Lenzi started the cannibal genre, Deodato gives it a good kick in the arse with this film. Like a few others listed here, LAST CANNIBAL WORLD stars Ivan Rassimov and Me Me Lai. An oil prospector gets captured by a tribe, gets tortured and abused, then escapes and sets off to find his companion and their plane. For me, this film seems to have a lot more animal violence in comparison to the others. Not a good thing in this case, as back then the animal actors lives were expendable. It makes me happy when I hear the tribes involved ate the animals, but this wasn’t always the case. Although not as hardcore violence wise as CANNIBAL FEROX and CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, it still packs enough of a punch and is fairly misogynistic in places. For fans on the genre only!
This early Umberto Lenzi film was the one that kicked off the whole cannibal genre. The film also goes by the title MAN FROM DEEP RIVER, which is more apt, as it was inspired by the Richard Harris movie A MAN CALLED HORSE. However, Lenzi’s film stars Ivan Rassimov in the Richard Harris role and swaps Native American Indians for South East Asian Cannibals. The plot is of an English photographer who gets captured by the aforementioned tribe. After enduring various tortures, one of the Chief’s daughters develop a bit of a wide on for him, and he goes through several initiations in order to assimilate into their clan. This is really like an early version of DANCES WITH WOLVES and only features one cannibal tribe that Harris’ lot does battle with. It is also quite tame for the genre, and is a little different plot wise to the other films on my list. The musical score is fitting and Rassimov does a great job paired alongside the beautiful Me Me Lai, who wasn’t scared of taking off her gear and appearing in these types of films.
Sergio Martino gets to work with a bigger cast not typical of this type of film, namely Stacey Keach and – one time Bond girl – Ursula Andress. He comes out with a quite stylish rendition. MOUNTAIN OF THE CANNIBAL GOD is set in the dense jungles of Papua New Guinea and seems to be more like an old style adventure film. The plot follows Andress’ character venturing off into the jungles searching for her long lost husband. An anthropologist played by Keach, her sleazy brother and a few other characters join her on the journey. Is it her husband she is really looking for, or does she have more devious plans afoot? They meet up with the tribe of the title and everything goes to shit for our adventurers. This contains lots of footage of animal attacks on other species, some of which were unfortunately set up. I’d recommend avoiding these films at all costs if this stuff highly offends you. On a nicer note, Andress does take her clothes off a lot, and she is in quite good shape seeing that she was in her 40’s at the time!
Alternately titled TRAP ‘EM AND KILL ‘EM, this film was written and directed by Joe D’Amato. The thing about Joe was that out of all the different genres he indulged in, porn and horror were his most frequent output. And he often combined the two resulting in some of the most exciting and daring exploitation films ever made. This is a perfect example of one starring the black Emanuelle herself, Laura Gemser. As usual she plays a journalist just as desperate for a shot of cock as she is for a great news scoop. While going undercover in a mental hospital she comes across a girl who has bitten off the breast of a nurse. Apparently, the girl was raised by the last surviving tribe of cannibals in the South American jungles. With this information Emaneulle teams up with an anthropologist, a hunter and his sex obsessed wife, and a whole bunch of other hot looking females. Remember, this is a cannibal film and presentation is very important when preparing a ‘dish’! Even if the nudity is unwarranted dirty ol’ Joe still does his best to justify it in the script. One funny scene includes a cigarette-smoking chimpanzee who watches two of these beauties bathe naked. This is even more incredible, seeing as chimpanzees are native to Africa.
Lenzi’s second cannibal film borrows footage from his other films and also Sergio Martino’s MOUNTAIN OF THE CANNIBAL GOD. It stars cannibal regulars, such as porn star Robert Kerman, Me Me Lai, Ivan Rassimov, Hollywood actor Mel Ferrer and CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and Fulci favourite, the beautiful Janet Agren. The Guyana tragedy and the Reverend Jim Jones inspire this film’s story. A woman played by Agren goes into the Papua New Guinean jungle in search of her lost sister when she finds out she may have became brainwashed by a crazed religious cult. She teams up with an ex-Vietnam war veteran played by Robert Kerman and a few others to rescue her sister from the clutches of megalomaniacal leader Jonas, played by Rassimov. The uncut version of this film contains some quite brutal scenes. One containing Agren’s character getting assaulted by the cults leader Jonas with a blood coated dildo. This film I really do like, hence its position at number 3. One funny goof consists of a character’s limb magically reappearing after it has been taken off and eaten.
Also called MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY and WOMAN FROM DEEP RIVER, CANNIBAL FEROX is the third cannibal film by Lenzi. It was marketed as the most violent film ever made and was banned in 31 countries. The story concerns a team of explorers who enter the South American jungles in order to write a thesis on whether cannibalism is a myth or not. There they cross two other Americans, who are on the run from heroin dealers in New York. The Americans may, or may not have, already encountered the cannibals and pissed them the fuck off. Although not the best cannibal film ever made, it is definitely the most fun. It stars genre favourites Giovanni Lombard Radice, Lorainne De Selle from HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK, and Zora Kerova from NEW YORK RIPPER. The gore is way over the top, and it features castration, brain eating and a girl hung by her breasts on meat hooks. It is overtly sleazy, too. Zora’s character shags the South American police Chief on first meeting then laments how bad he smells. She then later proceeds to forcibly “make out with an Indigo Girl” by one of the exiled Americans they meet up with. CANNIBAL FEROX is my sentimental favourite out of the lot, a real piece of work, although technically not as efficient as the much revered CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.
The Granddaddy out the lot and for the time period, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is one of the most disturbing films you can see. This would probably have the record for being banned in the most amount of countries due to the images of slaughter and rape. Real death footage adds to the gritty realism and director Deodato was even forced into an Italian court to provide the actors weren’t really killed. The story tells the tale of a Doctor Herman Munroe who heads into the rainforests of South America in order to retrieve some film canisters of a New York film crew who strangely went missing in the area. When Munroe returns with the canisters, he screens what they shot and the horrors of what happened unreel on the screen. We see a native girl impaled on a Bamboo spike, which enters from her arse to exit from her mouth. A strange tribal punishment for adultery where a mud pie inserted with sticks is forced into the offending female’s vagina, and a family made to pile into a burning mud hut. The beautiful score orchestrated by Riz Ortolani is haunting, and Deodato frames some nice scenery. A definite must see.