In the film, Gloria, an anthropology student ventures into the Amazon jungle as part of her thesis refuting historical claims that natives engaged in acts of cannibalism. Accompanied by her brother and her friend, they chance upon two Americans in the jungle seeking their fortune. In fact both are on the run from some heroin dealers in New York and their brutal mistreatment of the natives, especially at the hands of the sadistic Mike, spells dire consequences for all involved...
Trashy, racist, campy and inept - just some of the criticisms applied to Cannibal Ferox over the years and while much of this sticks, the film remains one of the more enjoyable entries in the cannibal genre. Despite the fact that Lenzi wrote the screenplay, the director shows little affinity for this type of film - even the jungle vistas look dull and nondescript. Better fun is had from the cast which includes John Morghen and the delectable Zora Kerova. In recent years John Morghen has poured considerable scorn on the film, but his turn as the crazed coke-head Mike is one of his best performances from this era. Perhaps the film's biggest flaw is it's plundering of Deodato's film. The juxtaposition of the so-called savage society of Amazonia with the "civilised" Western society is well made in Cannibal Holocaust, but Lenzi's insistence on cutting from the jungle back to the violent streets of New York with it's cold blooded gangsters and overworked cops, just comes off as irritating and interrupts the flow of the film.
Whatever shortcomings the film has, Cannibal Ferox's raison d'être is its violence. Lenzi makes no apologies for being in the shock business and the abuse he dishes out to his cast is indeed ferocious - organs are dug out a stomach and devoured, an eyeball is plucked from its socket, limbs are hacked off, a skull is cracked open, and in the film's most notorious scene a woman has her breasts pierced by two iron hooks and hung up for a slow excruciating death. Had Lenzi afforded his special effects people a larger slice of the budget, such grueling scenes might have transformed Cannibal Ferox into a genuine stomach churner, but the splatter is often quite shoddy (but no less enjoyable). Be warned though, if you're sensitive to such things, the real killing of animals might get your juices flowing. But aside from the protracted killing of a small jungle raccoon by an anaconda, the scenes of animal slaughter are mercifully brief.
|I'm ready for my death scene Mr. Lenzi - a coati is crushed to death by an anaconda|
Grindhouse's US DVD looks comparable to their 1998 laserdisc - the image is grainy throughout but at least it's sharp and the DVD handles the darker scenes very well. Colors look very washed out at times but much of this seems to be inherent in the original film. The audio is fine and the film can be viewed in the English dub or Italian dub. I haven’t seen Sazuma's Ultrabit DVD but word is that this edition is by far the best as transfers go. Extras on the Grindhouse disc include a short interview with Lenzi, some international trailers, a gallery of promo artwork, coverage of a Grindhouse organized screening of the film in LA, and of course the now legendary dueling banjo commentary track featuring Lenzi and Morghen who offer widely different views of the film as it unfolds.