Inspired in part by the Mondo documentaries that shocked the film world with their tasteless depictions of third-world torture, sex and death, the Italian Cannibal sub-genre was at once both a response and challenge to the increasing penchant for naturalism that confronted the 70s and 80s. It was also a cheap way to make a buck. Offering sensation hungry audiences sadism, gore, and sexism galore, the Cannibal films were harsh and admittedly sleazy productions aimed at appealing to the crassest and most primal human instincts. More concerned with crossing social and cultural lines of taboo than storytelling, several of these gut-munchers lack any real sense of character development or theme. Even Cannibal Holocaust, the most effective and emotionally mature of this particular breed, emphasizes spectacle over story (although its thematic focus on racism, the media, and violence itself are intelligently handled and lend a further air of menace to the piece). Repulsion and outrage are the bedfellows of these amoral allegories. Humanity is stripped of logic or mercy, shown as the leering ape's face that it truly is. Every cannibal opus from Make Them Die Slowly to Man From Deep River shoves in our face the depravity and lust of Man once freed from the construct of cultural laws and enforcement. Politeness means nothing when someone is trying to eat your spleen! While the morality and artistic value of these films are questionable, their effects are still able to arouse shock and queasiness, proving their ability to engage the emotions if nothing else. Cannibal Terror, the new European offering from Severin films, lays the nudity and flesh eating on thick if not the logic. Similar to Jess Franco's Cannibals and D'Amato's Papaya, this uneven and rather lame brained celebration of laughable acting and moronic characterizations is honest enough to announce its humble attentions right up front: it wants to entertain you for 89 minutes. Not with story but pure exploitation.
An abysmally written mish-mash of cannibalism, adventure and eroticism, Cannibal Terror is a treasure for the lover of bad films. Characters are caricatures and theme is little more than a precursor for the next limb whacking. When a pair of not too bright criminals and their luscious woman kidnap the daughter of a wealthy businessman they decide "Hey, what to hell? Let's hide in the jungle!" One assumes they didn't realize there are cannibals running about. While the criminals plan the ransom via phone with another lowlife, the girl's parents search for her with the unavoidable (and inspiriting) results. You know the rest: white people marvel and/or are frightened of jungle world, square off against the hungry natives, and are eaten. Burp!
A British Nasty from the 1980s, Cannibal Terror sports more camp than carnality. Depending on your mood and what you're looking for in a genre film, this Spanish/French production will either leave you appreciating the unintentional marriage of horror and humor or disgusted with the incompetence with which the movie was filmed. While not a good or even a competent made film, this weaker entry in the cannibal genre is enjoyable for its very confused attitudes and hammy performances. Severin seems to understand and appreciate this, targeting the DVD for die-hard Eurohorror fans and those who love 'em campy. Their own back cover summary even mentions the cannibal's "comb overs and Elvis sideburns." Produced by Eurocine, a company that made a living peddling fear and flesh primarily on the video market, this is an awkward orgy of perversion, rape, and flesh eating. Just don't expect logic, and be aware that absurdity is the order of the day: natives wear tennis shoes, cars are easily spotted in the jungle, and, sadly, much of the gore (and there isn't as much as you'd expect) is slipshod.
Severin presents Cannibal Terror with more quality and respect than the picture deserves. An anti-classic refuting every good storytelling habit known to man, this strangely enjoyable mess is graced with an excellent transfer. The image is in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen and for the most part clean. Save for a few instances of grain, the picture is consistently sharp and well defined. Colors are vivid and lifelike. Audio is featured in English-dubbed Mono. Like the picture, the voice track is clean and concise, well balanced between sound effects and dialogue. Extras are not as generous as we're used to from Severin, limited to the Theatrical Trailer and a Deleted Scene that showcases Pamela Stanford doing the boogie in her panties.
Review by William Simmons
|Released by Severin|
|Region All - NTSC|
|see main review|