Cannibal ferox (1981)

3.5 out of 5

Cannibal Ferox is the best of the Umberto Lenzi cannibal films, by far. A number of the mistakes of the earlier entries have not been repeated and this film is a case of back to the drawing board. Although the drawing board here may look a teeny weensy bit like Ruggero Deodato's drawing board.

There are points of comparison between Cannibal Holocaust and it may be worth covering some of these. Both features get lost in some tiresome and ham-fisted "who are the real savages" issue, both films involve animals being sacrificed at the alter of entertainment and there are some overlaps of cast.

In this film the cannibals no longer look like well groomed extras from She Gods Of Shark Reef nor does it look like a wig or two are about to go south in a moment of primitive headbanging- these cannibals do what cannibals are expected to do in the genre which is get muddy and eat raw meat in a manic and noisy way however this film, as with Cannibal Holocaust, cannot go as far as portraying the cannibals as bad guys so there has to be a provocation- in this instance it is in the form of a emerald prospecting drug pusher played by John Morghen who gets his nuts cut off and the chance to witness his meat and two veg become food.

Having now established that the cannibals have a motive to be a bit cruel the last half hour is very exciting. The whole thing could be interpreted as some Vietnam metaphor but who cares as we get to see a pirhana attack, hear the scariest ever rendition of Red Valley River ever performed and see a woman hung up by her tits on fishhooks. While this is not especially pleasant to look at it cannot be claimed that this is an everyday thing to see. This is a nasty movie, but also a thrilling one.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics