Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cannibal Ferox: Cocaine Is Worse Than We Thought

I can think of few better ways to celebrate the end of the dreaded Christmas season than with a viewing of an Italian cannibal film. Can you? Well alright yes, a delicious sandwich party would be better but I had to work with what I had. Popular to contrary belief aka my belief only--Cannibal Ferox is NOT any kind of sequel to Cannibal Holocaust, so there goes my supposed brilliance. Cannibal Ferox however is a noted addition to the cannibal film genre which is populated pretty much entirely by Italian films AND it garners a similar amount of criticism and notoriety that Cannibal Holocaust did.

My first experience with Cannibal Ferox was when I saw the picture of those hooks impaling a pair of boobs. Also there may or may not have been a penis getting sliced off with a machete--I can't recall. In any case, after seeing Cannibal Holocaust back in the very beginning of my curiosity involving disturbing horror films, I decided at that moment that I would put off seeing Cannibal Ferox for a very, very, long time. And so I did. So long in fact, that I practically forgot about its existence.

Cannibal Ferox follows Gloria and her brother Rudy and some slut named Pat who take a trip deep into the Amazon to prove Gloria's brilliant theory. Her theory is that there is no such thing as cannibalism and that there may have never been such a thing. Rather, it was used as a way for European colonies to justify their violence towards natives. While in the Amazon, the group encounters Mike--an apparent drug addict and his friend in bad shape. They inform the group to watch out--because some cannibals are out there. There goes that theory!

What surprised me the most about Cannibal Ferox was how it also put such a heavy reliance on the animal cruelty--and real animal cruelty at that. There's even a similar turtle scene to the one in Cannibal Holocaust. Upon further research, Italian cannibal films used this device quite frequently, most likely as some kind of bizarre commentary about something I'm not intelligent enough to understand. The necessity of using real animals however always trips me up. The animal violence always ends up being much harder to stomach than the human torture and cannibalism.

There's a snake there but you can't see it because the snake is really good at camouflaging.

Is this intended? I'm not sure. It certainly gets a rise out of those vegetarians though..

I also continue to be amazed at how long it takes for the ball to really get rolling. The infamous boobie hooks scene doesn't happen until the last 10 minutes of the film. Before this we get a pretty gruesome free for all involving internal organs and a severed penis being rapidly eaten. Other than that it seemed to be a lot of gun shots, quick glimpses of blood, and sad animal deaths. I guess I expected more after being shown this before the film started.

I started to count instances of this "barbaric torture" but I only got as far as 5 before getting frustrated at figuring out what they considered to be "barbaric"

Was this barbaric?



I'm guessing they did because otherwise we would have close to 10 barbaric scenes of graphic violence instead of 24. Or maybe they were just lying to you know...sucker people like me into watching this. Lucky for them I found Cannibal Ferox to be oddly entertaining despite this, and here is why.

The writing is hilarious! It was great you know in that awkward Italian way. Bad dubbing and hilarious moments of confusion. Confusion as in-- I wonder if something got lost in translation or if the occurrence of a jay-walking Iguana really would be a bad thing? Correct me if I'm wrong but seeing a jay-walking Iguana would most likely make me really excited. No?

Here are a few examples of brilliance:

Hey, want some?

No thanks, I don't drink.


Boy, having sex was really great. Can I have some more cocaine?
Hey, want to go rape a native girl?

And then of course the always popular technique of replacing character's names with obscenities. I admit I did have to look up people's names on Wikipedia because I just knew everybody as "Asshole, Twat and Shithead" and was quite confused.

The conclusion to be made in regards to Cannibal Ferox is that we, the greedy white humans, create cannibalism. In the end--it is because of Mike's hot temper and heavy cocaine usage that pushes him to act out brutal violence on other people. Violence breeds violence--and obviously everyone learns by example. I guess it's kind of like the idea that a lot of times children who were abused grow up to be violent also. I suppose I'll take that as an acceptable explanation for why the natives suddenly break out with violence......

Just kidding, I'm not sure if I buy that. For some reason I feel like Cannibal Ferox's biggest downfall is the unbelievability factor in regards to how randomly the natives decide to kill the white people. I understand acting a certain revenge on Mike--since he was a super asshole, dickhead, and shit face BUT why wait so long to exact a revenge? What were the young people doing out there? I'm not sure exactly what it is, but something is surely off on that whole reasoning. Killing people I understand--but suddenly becoming a cannibal because of being shown violence (just violence and no indication of eating people) is a little strange. Or maybe they just were cannibals the whole time and Gloria got it wrong, who knows.

Cannibal Ferox is a somewhat less enjoyable film than Cannibal Holocaust well--enjoyable I suppose is the wrong word. It is less engaging rather. Cannibal Holocaust was just more shocking, while Cannibal Ferox had notable moments of disgust, it didn't affect me for a long period of time the way Cannibal Holocaust did. Due to this I don't think it will claim a spot on the most disturbing list. Better luck next time Cannibal Ferox. I think there were moments where shock and grossing out was the intention, like when this man ate these grubs.

But thanks to Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, we know that grubs are really just a good protein, and that they have a great nutty taste to them.

Still, an interesting film however and one that I'm sure sends many messages and commentaries on....human nature and stuff like that. You know, things that really smart people write papers on.

Cannibal Ferox ultimately feels more Italian than Cannibal Holocaust. There were strange plot holes, and jumps to things that forced me to rewind the DVD only to find that there was no transition---things are just like that. There's this whole other side plot involving the mafia that is completely irrelevant. Hmm I guess there was a lot more wrong with this than I initially thought. Oh! And what is up with Mike acting all fine and dandy after his penis was cut off? He just gets his pants put on and is off on his way? I don't have a penis but come on. Not possible. Really awesome brain eating contraption though....which now that I think about it is I suppose the best evidence for why the natives were always cannibals.....oh well! I still don't buy it.


Zachary Kelley said...

I agree, Ferox is a more Italian film, and Umberto Lenzi is no Ruggero Deodato. As for your point about the animal violence being more disturbing than the cannibalism, I've always thought that the real animal violence was in there to make the bad effects seem more real. Such as in one of them an alligator is prepared and cooked and later on a human is prepared in the same way only the alligator was real.

Anyhow, wonderful review to a film I haven't seen in a while, but I'm not sure I need to run back all that soon.

CashBailey said...

Hilarious review, Andre. I LOL-ed.

This movie is a tacky knock-off of the genuinely great CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.

Taken on those terms it's a decent Italian 'gut-muncher'.

DVD Infatuation said...

I'm woefully behind on Cannibal films (having seen only HOLOCAUST and APOCALYPSE), but this is one I've heard a lot about, and wanted to catch up with. Looks like the 'gross-out' factor in FEROX is pretty high.

Christine Hadden said...

I have mad love for your reviews. This one made my whole day, so thanks!
And animal violence (whether real or fake) is always more disturbing to me. Always.

Pearce said...

You've got a really good point about Mike's penis. He really didn't seem to miss it, did he? The bit where that kid ate it got the biggest reaction when I saw this in a theatre (under the title Woman from Deep River, in a version missing all the animal cruelty but apparently keeping all the human violence).

I'm hardly the first person to say this, but Umberto Lenzi was out of his element with horror & cannibal movies. He was far better with action movies.

I would heartily recommend you to watch his cop movie Violent Naples, if you get a chance. It lives up to its title, and Maurizio Merli is definitive as Inspector Betti, a '70s cop with a take-no-prisoners moustache. He even gets to slap John Saxon around.