With the film finishing just seconds ago, I know I have to write this fast, as it’s already fading out of my mind. Cannibal Ferox is the 1981 cannibal film, coming in just at the end of the Cannibal Boom ( ’77-’81), it feels like just another shock’em exploitation film.
Cannibal Ferox starts out in New York, with a junkie going to score some drugs. In his dealers apartment are two mafia members who are looking for the dealer Mike, and gun him down in cold blood. Cut from there to the wilds of Paraguay, where Judy is traveling with her brother, and slutty friend, following up on a series of articles about cannibals, trying to prove that cannibalism as an organized culture, does not exist. Along the way they come across Mike, and his dying friend, who recounts all the terrible things that the cannibals did to them.
Of course, in the fashion of cannibal movies, it is really the white man, and modern society that is the bad guy. In the case of Cannibal Ferox, Mike represents the evil of society, as it was him who attacked the tribe of ‘cannibals’, while snorting coke every few scenes. The case that society is evil is best summed up by Judy in the excruciatingly bad dialog ” What a goddamn fool I was thinking I had to leave New York to find the reasons behind cannibalism. Do you realize it’s us, the so called civilized people that is the reason for their cruelty and our superior society.” Talk about beating us over the head with the message. But the strange thing is, the tribe was peaceful, until they decide to fight back against the invaders, saying that we are in fact the ones who made them cannibals. If that’s so, then why was there multiple articles about cannibalism in these parts?
The audio in the film is quite bad, with the speaking never quite matching with the characters, I’m assuming that it wasn’t shot in English, but I could be wrong for this. Since most cannibal films are Italian, I would assume it was re-dubbed when it was brought over as ” Make Them Die Slowly”, with the tagline ” They raped and killed his sister while he watched helplessly. Now it’s his turn to Make Them Die Slowly”. Too bad that never happens in the film.
The characters are almost as forgettable as the plotline of the cops trying to track down Mike in New York, which is intercut with the footage of the cannibal story line, it just feels tracked on, much the same way any ‘character development’ does. The characters also make some of the worst choices ever. After hearing about the evil that the tribe did, they decided to camp in the middle of the village! From the first time together the characters will be best remembered as , The scientist, The slut, and The brother, beyond that, they’re just not deep at all, and any scenes trying to deepen them, just take away from what we want out of a cannibal movie.
The gore in the film is brutal in the nature of what is being shown, but the effects themselves are quite dated, and while practical, don’t seem to pack a punch. Our villain gets his penis severed, and eaten, there’s a scene with an eyeball removal, and a scene in which piranhas eat away at some one’s leg. All of these come across as goofy, more than frightening. The best elements of gore come when Mike has the top of his head sliced off, and his brains eaten, or when a character gets hooks through her breasts. But the most disturbing element of the film is the way they use real footage of animals killing animals, and even kill a pig for one scene. The approach of using Mundo footage would worked better, if it wasn’t so spread out from the rest of the story.
The main problem with the film, comes in the form of pacing. It’s a cannibal movie with boring characters, so lets get to the fucking gore already! By the time we’re finally getting to what we want to see, we’re nearing the end of the movie, and just as it feels it’s going to push the envelope, the film ends. What the hell!
While Cannibal Ferox might be considered the second best of the cannibal films, behind Cannibal Holocaust, it’s not a good film by any stretch, leaving me to ask, if this is the second best, what’s that say about the rest of them? With such a terrible story, the film won’t appeal to anyone but gorehounds, and with gore that isn’t done all that well, it’ll be a hard sell for them. What a shame it has such a beautiful poster.
Score – D -
Gore – 10/10
Gore Quality – 4/10
Cannibal Ferox made me realize I would have to add a gore quality rating, because the film is bloody as hell, and the things they do deserve a 10, the quality just won’t cut it for any serious gorehound.