Cannibal Terror (1981)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2008-09-12 12:34

Directed by: Alain Deruelle
Written by: H.L. Rostaine
Starring: Silvia Solar, Gerard Lemaire, Pamela Stanford & Oliveri Mathot

Reviewed by: Brett H.

“What’s that over there? (pause) It’s just a bird…”

Until discovering the existence of Cannibal Terror and Jess Franco’s Cannibals some years back, I assumed all cannibals were Italian. Later, fans got a taste of American anthropophagi in the 2007 effort, Welcome to the Jungle, but other than that horror devotees (as cannibalistic as any heathen on the silver screen… and then some) have mostly tied the grisly works of this upchuck genre to the names Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenzi. And perhaps, it should stay that way. The cannibal film has always been a mainstay for courageous Italian horror fans, especially because the lurid video and DVD boxes never made any bones about proudly displaying just how many countries they were banned in. Like some sick and twisted boy scout badge of triumph. But, no, all cannibals are not Italian, as proven by Eurocine with Cannibal Terror. Originally named to the video nasties list with true stomach churning brother, Cannibal Ferox and immortal classic, Cannibal Holocaust, one can only reminisce on just how that list would backfire; instantly eternalizing a graveyard of terrors, good and bad. And, sometimes they were bad. Really bad. Cannibal Terror bad…

A couple of small time crooks hatch a plot to kidnap the kid of a rich old guy so they can get the dough they so desperately do not deserve. The plan is to take the poor kid across the border and hide out somewhere in the jungle to lie low and wait to reap the benefits of their not-so-kind deed. But, these are criminals of the dumbest kind. A short while after taking refuge in the house of another man of questionable morals, one of the boneheads decides that when in the jungle in the middle of nowhere on the run from the law, raping the old lady of the only ally you have left is the best idea in the world. Who cares if they were warned that this was cannibal country, there’s some good rape to be had, right? No deeds go unpunished, as these pitiful excuses for human beings are soon to find out. As if the odds couldn’t surmount against these bozos, shit rains on them once again. The owner of the house they’re staying in not only has a bit of a mean streak for revenge, but he also happens to be pretty friendly with the tribe of bloodthirsty cannibals living just a short ways off the beaten track!

Cannibal Terror is the kind of movie that the viewer will either discard of instantly or will get a slight sense of enjoyment at the stupidity of it all. It’s not bad in the Doom Asylum way or even the Sweet House of Horrors way. On the ladder that extends from awfulness the greatness, Cannibal Terror exists on the first rung from the bottom; barely teetering from the shit abyss. I’ve come across the title a time or two over the years and always sat in awe of the user rating the IMDB had for the film. I’ve seen my share of 2.8s and 3.5s in my time, but back then Cannibal Terror sported a healthy 1.8 average. It’s now skyrocketed to 1.9 as of this writing. What scared me most wasn’t the fact that the rating was 1.8 on the IMDB. What terrified me was the fact that of the over 150 people who rated the film at the time must have been fans of bad Eurohorror and cannibal films alike. There’s just no way anyone else would have sought this bad boy out. It was bad to even the most devout of fans.

I don’t think it deserves a 1.9; it’s bad, but it has a fun, redeeming quality or two. And, I will list them both right now. First off, like most Eurohorror, the film has its moments where it looks really pleasing. Foliage and rivers are taken advantage of. The other redeeming quality is the fact that you can laugh at it. The charm that people label a film like Boardinghouse with doesn’t live inside of this movie. The impression you get when laughing with Video Violence isn’t what you feel in Cannibal Terror. No, present here is some of the worst dialogue you’ll ever encounter and the dubbing is not much better. The cannibals? Well, this ‘native’ tribe consists of people from a variety of races who mostly all wear some form of warpaint. The cakey, dirty ghouls from a film like Holocaust aren't present, instead it’s just a bunch of actors mugging for the camera. While holding sticks, of course. Because, what is a cannibal without his trusty walking/pointing/prodding stick and shaggy, rocker hair?

Devoting a whole paragraph to the inanities of a film is never something a reviewer enjoys doing, but part of the sub-charm the film wades in is in the total disregard of competence in most everyone involved. The kidnapped little girl? I’m positive her direction consisted of Alaine Deruelle telling her to follow the nice adults around and look at them when they speak to you, and try to be still when not speaking. And, no, this poor little girl doesn’t listen at all. It doesn’t appear she even cares that she’s been kidnapped, she’s having the time of her life! Perhaps she was the smart one of the bunch to so blatantly not care. After all, her voice was later dubbed by a grown woman trying, pitifully, to sound like a little kid. What about the gut-munching and gore, you ask? Well, other than a almost bloodless machete chop, there’s not much of it. Except for gore of the real variety. A pig (at least twice in the film filling in for a human body) is viciously disembowelled and this gut of steel almost lost his lunch. The cannibals mostly just play around with their food, never bothering to get their faces bloody, except when it’s quite obvious it’s condiment covered garlic sausage in their hands rather than anything resembling real innards. The film’s music ranges from terrible to fine, actually, the only fine portions are those in which the natives play their drums. In other cases it sounds akin to a defective Atari 2600 struggling to produce primitive bleeps while being raped by a 20-year old printer screeching out a page or else it just doesn’t fit.

Severin Films releases Cannibal Terror on DVD with an amazing transfer and clear audio, other than a bit of print blemish, it’s quite shocking at how good a film this bad looks. Rounding this out is a theatrical trailer which is of interest as it contains footage not seen in the feature film as well as an alternate “spicy” scene where the lady who was raped gets hot and bothered with her rapist even after the fact. It’s all a ploy for revenge, but it’s just weird either way. It has been said many times by many a people that (insert bad movie here) deserves to look better on DVD. Cannibal Terror does not warrant the stellar love Severin shows to it here. Although it’s a bad movie, I believe it has its place out there, a deserved spot on the shelves of movies that enjoy films in the darkest corner of the cellar of b-movies. I can’t by any means give the film itself a positive or even mediocre review, but that certain group of people out there, you know who you are, will cherish this one as one of the greats of poor cinema. You have to hand it to Severin, they don’t lead you on with a lie only to break your heart. The back of their DVD cover (housed in a snazzy white keep case!) says it all, “ … a mind-roasting exercise in atrocious acting, gratuitous nudity and gut-munching mayhem by a ravenous tribe of flesh eaters who inexplicably sport comb-overs and Elvis sideburns.” Now, if that doesn’t make you want to catch this one for all the wrong reasons, nothing will! Trash it!

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