Posts Tagged ‘Cannibals’

Cannibal Holocaust

Directed By: Ruggero Deodato

Starring: Robert Kerman, Gabriel Yorke, Francesca Ciardi, Luca Giorgio Barbareschi, Perry Pirkanen

Synopsis: A documentary film crew goes missing in The Amazon and a rescue mission finds only their lost footage.

Thoughts: This is quite possibly the most notorious of the Video Nasties. Director Ruggero Deodato was charged with obscenity shortly after the premier and would later, he would even have to defend himself against murder charges! Only after gathering the actors for an interview, and showing footage of how the rigged the impalement scene, were the murder charges dropped.

Cannibal Holocaust is a very well made film. The social commentary and raw violence will shake all but the most hardened viewers. Included in that violence are a couple of scenes of animal cruelty (animal deaths really). Deodato would later regret introducing the animal scenes in the film. Scenes like this don’t bother me too much, as I grew up on a farm. It helps knowing that the animals killed here were eaten by the cast and crew.

The cast did a phenomenal job, even though I hated almost all of them! The original crew that went missing were the real savages here, which is what Deodato was striving to show. We fear what we don’t understand, such as indingenous Amazon tribes, but in reality, we can be much more terrifying.

You don’t see a lot of discussion around it, but Cannibal Hoocaust is one of the early “found footage” movies. Deodato used this method to great effect, without giving us the “shaky cam” that makes recent found footage difficult to watch at times.

Cannibal Holocaust is one of the those movies that every film fan, not just genre fan, should see. It’s not something that I revisit often, but have seen it enough times that the shock has worn of a bit. It’s still not a pleasant experience, but that’s what Deodato wanted. It truly earned its place as a Video Nasty.

How Nasty Is It?
Pretty damn nasty! There are gruesome scenes throughout the movie. There’s on screen animal deaths. There’s cannibalism. Many of the movies on the Video Nasty list make it based on one scene, or even a title or VHS cover. This is not one of them.




Directed By: Bruno Mattei

Starring: Jose Gras, Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garafalo, Selan Karay, Joseph Lluis Fonoll

Synopsis: Government experiments lead to a zombie outbreak.

Thoughts: The success of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead led to many, many zombie movies flooding the market in the 80s. It just so happens that many of those zombie movies came from Italy. Bruno Mattei, already well on his way to becoming a master of Italian genre cinema, set out to make a film similar to Dawn, but lighter in tone. What was delivered was a bit of a mash-up of Italian action movie, cannibal movie and zombies.

The story, although basic in premise, is drawn out for a bit too long. The runtime, at just over an hour and forty minutes would have benefited from some tighter editing. The effects were also all over the place. In some scenes, the zombies and attacks were very well done and realistic. In others, it looks like some amateurs first attempts at creating zombie make-up.

The acting is also laughable, especially that of the team of commandos that are dispatched to deal with the outbreak. Unlike a lot of movies from this era of Italian horror, there aren’t any recognizable names here.

Even with Zombie Creeping Flesh being a bit too long and sloppy at times, and the acting being subpar at best, I had a good time watching this. It embodies the term “so bad it’s good.” If you want to watch the best of zombie cinema, stick with Romero and Fulci. If you want a movie that you can sit back and crack jokes about the acting and camera work, this is a great candidate.

How Nasty Is It?

This has some pretty gory scenes of gut munching nastiness, especially during the portion of the movie where the group encounters the cannibal tribe. It’s something that is seen throughout the zombie and cannibal genres, but you can see how it caught the eye of the BBFC.



Directed By: Joe D’Amato

Starring: Tisa Farrow, George Eastman, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Margaret Mazzantini, Mark Bodin, Bob Larson, Rubina Rey, Zora Kerova

Synopsis: A group of friends plan to tour some islands in the Mediterranean, but run into trouble in the form of a deformed cannibalistic maniac.

Thoughts: If there is one thing I’ve learned from watching Italian horror movies, is that it’s a pretty bad idea to visit islands. You’re guaranteed to run into cannibals, zombies or some sort of bloodthirsty maniacs.

Anthropophagus is no different. We see two German tourists stop off at a beach and immediately meet their demise at the hands of an unseen killer wielding a rather large butcher knife. As the movie progresses, we find that the killer is Klaus Wortman, who was believed to be lost at sea with his wife and son. Klaus survived, but his family did not, and he ate them to survive, which ultimately drove him insane and led to him becoming a cannibal.

The story is pretty solid, although the characters make some very poor decisions that you’ll find in a lot of horror movies. They split up, they venture into areas they shouldn’t and ultimately, most of them die for it. I always find it hard to critique actors when the movie is dubbed, but Anthropophagus never came across as campy, so that says something for the actors, the script and the direction.

Joe D’Amato, mostly known for sexploitation type movies (both hardcore and softcore), ventured into the horror genre in the early 80s and did so with a splash of blood and gore. In addition to Anthropophagus, he directed its sequel Absurd and Beyond the Darkness.

Based on his background, Anthropophagus has surprisingly little sex in it. Instead, he focused on the atmosphere and brutality of the attacks. It worked very well, as Klaus is an extremely memorable and creepy killer.

There are a multitude of very bad movies on the Video Nasty list. Anthropophagus is not just another boring gore fest with bad FX. It has an above average story, some great direction and a great setting. Add that to some pretty nasty gore, and you have yourself one of the better entries on the list.

How Nasty Is It? This one deserves its place on the list, if only for a couple of scenes. There are some pretty long stretches where there isn’t a lot of action, but when there is action, it’s pretty gruesome. This is topped off by Eastman catching up to Maggie and rips her unborn child from her womb and eats it. This scene actually had some prosecutors believing that this was an actual snuff film!

Cannibal Ferox

Directed By: Umberto Lenzi

Starring: John Morgan, Lorraine De Selle, Danilo Mattei, Robert Kerman, Walter Lucchini, Zora Kerova

Subgenre: Cannibals, Exploitation

Synopsis:  While attempting to discount the existence of cannibalism, a research party encounters drug dealers and a native tribe in the jungle.

Thoughts: The cannibal genre was in its heyday in the late 70s and early 80s.  Italian film makers were turning stomachs left and right with journeys into the depths of the jungle.  I’m no expert on the genre, but I’ve seen a handful of the movies.  Some are better than others, but for the most part, they follow the same path.  Arrogant Americans travel into the jungle for various reasons and are responsible for atrocities against the native tribes, which also happen to be cannibals.  A vicious form of vengeance involving severed body parts ensues.  It’s a great recipe to showcase some pretty nasty effects, and Cannibal Ferox does just that.  One thing that I have never fully understood about cannibal movies, is the need to feature the butchering of animals.  I’ve been around animals my whole life, so butchering one isn’t something that bothers me, I just don’t see what it has to do with the storyline.  It’s almost as if it is there up the gore factor and further turn stomachs.  It takes away from the storyline for me, but it is a trademark of the genre.

Most Cannibal movies feature a cast that the crowd is supposed to despise.  More often than not, they are not innocent victims.  Cannibal Ferox is no different.  What is a little different, however, is that they entire group isn’t totally reprehensible.  There are a few recognizable exploitation faces in Cannibal Ferox, including Lorraine De Selle (House at the Edge of the Park) and Zora Kerova (Anthropophagus and New York Ripper.) Playing a familiar role as the lead scumbag is Giovanni Lombardo Radice, who has been in a handful of Italian exploitation flicks such as City of the Living Dead, Cannibal Apocalypse and House on the Edge of the Park.  Overall, the cast comes together really well.

Umberto Lenzi fits the description of cult director to a tee and wears that description like a badge of honor.  His movies have run the gamut of b movies, including cannibals, zombies, gialli, westerns, sword and sandal epics, action movies, and everything in between.  While his movies may not always be impressive, his zeal to make movies is.  While I haven’t seen anywhere close to Lenzi’s filmography, he seems to make technically sound movies.  The FX in Cannibal Ferox are better than you would expect in a B movie, and are really a differentiator when comparing this to other splatter flicks.

Like many of its brethren, the gore and the on screen animal deaths landed Cannibal Ferox on the infamous Video Nasty list that so many of us use as a checklist for 70s and 80s exploitation movies.  It wasn’t until the 90s that it was available uncut here in the US, but it is pretty easy to find now days.  If this genre is your thing, this is worth checking out.  It stands a little behind Cannibal Holocaust, which is widely considered the benchmark for the genre, but it is a close second from what I have seen.

Hills Have Eyes II

Directed By: Wes Craven

Starring: Janus Blythe, Robert Huston, Tamara Stafford, Kevin Spirtas, John Bloom, Michael Berryman, John Laughlin

Subgenre: Survival, Cannibals

Synopsis: Two of the survivors from the first movie return to the desert for a dirt bike race and run into what is left of the clan of misfits that attacked them before.

Thoughts:  The Hills Have Eyes Part II may very well be one of the most maligned horror movies of the 80s.  I had heard truckloads of negative feedback so when I saw it pop up on Netflix, I knew I had to watch it to judge for myself. After finally viewing it, I was trying to find ways to be positive about it, but the more that I thought about the movie and replayed it in my head, the worse it got.

What really kills this movie is the incredibly asinine storyline and script.  While there are countless horror flicks out there with subpar plots and cheesy dialogue, this one takes the cake.  This bad boy has plot holes a plenty and even a dog that has a flashback to the first movie.

The cast really wasn’t all that bad, but I don’t think a cast of Oscar winners could save this movie.  Genre favorite Michael Berryman returns as Pluto, which is a highlight, although the scenes where he stole the dirtbike were a little over the top.

Wes Craven said he made this movie for one reason, and one reason only; to make money.  He was beyond broke when the opportunity came up, and took it without thinking twice.  Since then, he has apologized many times for this movie.

Another very popular name in the movie business did the music for The Hills Have Eyes Part II, although I think Harry Manfredini used his tracks from Friday the 13th and just removed the ch-ch-ch riff.  The similarities in the music are striking.

There’s not much reason to check this movie out unless you are just curious to see how bad it really is.  I have run across a few fans of the movie out there, but not many. 

Mountain of the Cannibal God  (1978)
{La montagna del dio cannibale}

Directed By: Sergio Martino

Starring: Ursula Andress, Stacy Keach, Claudio Cassinelli, Antonio Marsina

Subgenre: Cannibals, Exploitation, Survival

Just one of the many alternate titles

My experience with the Italian cannibal genre is rather short, with Cannibal Holocaust being the only one I had seen prior to Mountain of the Cannibal God. I was indifferent to Holocaust. It failed to impress or shock me. I thought that the scenes of animal violence were pointless at best. I understand that it goes with the genre, but fail to see why it belongs.

Mountain of the Cannibal God is a story about a wife (Bond girl Ursula Andress) trying to find her missing anthropologist husband. She enlists the help of her brother and another professor to head to New Guinea and find him. Their exploration takes them to an island just off the coast that is dominated by a mountain known as Ra Ra Me, or Mountain of the Cannibal God.

The story plays more like an Indiana Jones movie with the animal scenes thrown in than a horror movie, at least until the climax. The expedition struggles against the elements as they trek through the jungle. Along the way, we learn that everyone has ulterior motives for being there.

Upon arriving at the mountain, the film switches to a full blown cannibal flick. They find the Harry (the husband) in the form of a decaying corpse with a Geiger counter as a heart. The natives worship the corpse as a god. Most of the expedition ends up on the dinner menu while Susan (the wife) gets tied up, stripped down, and covered in mud. I have to imagine that this scene is part of the reason that this movie is as popular as it is. Just about every piece of promo material I have seen for the movie has a shot of Ursula either ties to a post or running around scantily clad. Not that I am complaining, mind you.

Out of the blue, a crazy cannibal orgy breaks out and it is fairly explicit. I had to laugh my ass off at the scene with the native banging the giant hog. It was a real WTF moment. Oddly enough, my wife was walking by during that scene. I had to explain to her that not all Italian horror flicks had bestiality in it, as far as I know anyways!

Overall, I thought Mountain of the Cannibal God was a fun little flick. I enjoyed it more so than Cannibal Holocaust. I think I will make a point to check out Cannibal Ferox or Cannibal Apocalypse eventually as well. Any other decent cannibal flicks out there?