Cannibalism is a truly terrifying prospect. Sure, some of us eat the flesh of animals (arguably lesser or greater beasts) on a regular basis, but so few of us do the killing ourselves. It is hard to project lives and relationships onto nameless livestock. Not so with other humans. Imagine watching a grisly feast after a human, with a life, family and storied past, is slain in gruesome fashion. Imagine the passive look on the dying victim as its organs are removed, and it relinquishes itself to this dire fate...as lunch. This sort of imagery has the enormous potential to create memorable and terrifying scenes.
But Cannibal Ferox (also known as Make Them Die Slowly, for the White Zombie freaks) doesn't do that.
Umberto Lenzi is no stranger to Italian film fans. He has crafted a great many horror and exploitation flicks, some of which are quite entertaining. He's also arguably the creator of this cannibal subgenre that persisted through the late 70s-80s, as he released The Man from Deep River in 1972. Unlike the previous Eaten Alive, which had various re-used scenes and wound up a jumbled mess of crap (lame rape scenes, and only glimpses of horrible cannibalism), Cannibal Ferox is comprised of footage unique to the film. The film has a plot, but who in the hell cares? The only reason to watch such a film is because you want to be shocked by the violence and perversion on screen.
1. Woman no longer believes cannibals exist in the wild.
2. Woman and a few companions travel to the Amazon Jungle.
3. They encounter a pair of criminals on the run, who perform horrible deeds to local Indians.
4. The Indians belong to a cannibal tribe.
5. This will not end well (and yet it does, for one character).
6. It's a wonderful commentary on the endless cycle of human nature, violence and revenge!
Sold! Let's film this thing!
Truly, all that matters here are the scenes of gore, and we really don't get that much. Like other films of its type, it was apparently filmed to shock PETA members, as there are scenes of animals killing other animals, none of which are any good, mind you. It was the intent of these films to shock the audience, but since you never really feel immersed in any of the action on screen, it has little but an unpleasant effect. You get a few scenes of castration. A dick gets eaten, and eyeball removed, a woman gets hooks through her breasts, and a man gets his scalp hacked off and a bit of fake brain matter eaten. And that's really it...
The film is stocked with attractive young actors, like softcore porn magnate Robert Kerman (who appears in a number of similar films), Giovanni Lombardo Radice, and Zora Kerova. The natives stand around bored through much of the film, waiting for their check to be handed to them. Much like I sat around bored through much of the film realizing I would not actually get a check or any other reward for this waste of time.
Cannibal Ferox sucks, even moreso than Eaten Alive. The only really good options for a cannibal exploitation film are 1980's Cannibal Holocaust, which is actually and extremely harrowing movie, difficult to unglue your eyes from; and perhaps 1977's Ultimo Mondo Cannibale. And, for fuck's sake, do not watch Cannibal Ferox II. It's a crappy action film with little in common to this aside from a few short scenes.
Verdict: Fail [3/10] (Oh God, please let her die soon. Oh, let her die soon. And let me die soon too, please.)