Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Cannibal Ferox

Cannibal Ferox 1981
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writer: Umberto Lenzi
Starring John Morghen, Lorraine De Selle, Danilo Mattei, Zora Kerowa, Walter Lloyd, Meg Fleming and Robert Kerman

The sub genre of the Italian cannibal film is one that I think is an acquired taste. I really only think that fans who are more open to the extreme nature of the subject matter are open to these types of films. These films tend to revel in the outrageousness of animal torture and human depravity. Cannibal Ferox would be number two on my list, right behind Cannibal Holocaust. It is still a gruesome and shocking film, but I think Holocaust pushes the envelope more and the way it portrays the film as a documentary film makes it much more realistic. Ferox actually bounces back and forth from being a cannibal film to a Policia. I think these transitions take you out of the film at times, they are too jarring and do not seem to really fit. Especially the jarring disco music it plays whenever it takes place in New York City. This film has many strong points though, the best example of this being John Morghen, he steals every scene he is in and just exudes vile evilness. The cannibal attack scenes are shocking too, especially the nipple hanging and the head lopping and brain eating scenes. But people with weak stomachs should stay away as they have scenes of real animal cruelty in the film. These are horrible but I feel that you don't get the full power of the film without seeing those scenes.
The plot basics are this, Gloria (De Selle), Rudy (Mattei) and Pat (Kerowa) are traveling in the Amazons, so Gloria can refute that there is such a thing as cannibalism for her PhD. While in New York, mobsters are looking for Mike Logan (Morghen) who has absconded with a ton of their money. Soon, the travelers meet up with Mike in the Amazon and as they travel with him they see how cruel and twisted he is. They soon find out that he is running from the mob and has been unnecessarily cruel to the local natives. Gloria and Rudy decide to leave but then the men of the native tribe come back and exact bloody vengeance upon them. Gloria begins to go mad and wonders if she will survive the atrocities that are inflicted upon her and will she be able to tell her story or die in the jungle and feasted upon by the cannibals.
This is a shocking and jarring film. Lenzi's direction hooks you from the very beginning. He makes great use of Amazonian scenery and sets up the scenes of abject horror very well. The script is good, it sets up the story very well. There is not much depth into any of the characterizations, but that works for the film's benefit. The cast is good, especially Morghen, he steals every scene he is in. The sleaziness of his character is very palatable and you cannot wait for him to get his comeuppance. The SFX is very good too, it is very bloody and disgusting, which really works in the context of the film. It really makes everything seem more realistic. The score by Carlo Maria Cordio is very good, the music used during the jungle scenes is very haunting and stays in your head long after you see it. I recommend this to fans of extreme genre films.
This one gets 4 out of 5

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