This is an updated review, now noting the passing of Umberto Lenzi on October 19, 2017.
As George A. Romero was and still considered the Godfather of The Living Dead, Umberto Lenzi held the title of Godfather of the Cannibal Films, and likely he will always hold that title is the one attributed to creating the first genre flick in 1972 called Sacrifice (aka: The Man from Deep River) and thereby setting the sub-genre into motion. While many genre fans champion Cannibal Holocaust (1980) from director, Ruggero Deodato, as the most gruesome film ever created in this sub-genre, Lenzi’s Cannibal Ferox holds many awards as an equally disgusting movie. As Holocaust held the position of the first found-footage film (of sorts); Ferox went in the narrative format with a survivor recalling her story to authorities in some parts, and hence the storyline starts a tad muddled. A key element in Lenzi’s style always to prove the point to provoke and make the audience repulse and condemn only to secretly clamoring for more and that is what Grindhouse Releasing did by releasing a special 3-Disc Blu-Ray for the fans in 2015. Lenzi likely not to have his name in the same alluring glory as Romero, and overlook by future filmmakers and horror fans, his contributions might fall more into the underground, but yet still thrive with the hardcore gorehounds. However, filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino gave him thanks reference his exploitation send up movie Death Proof (2007) and Tom Savini currently working on a remake of Lenzi’s zombie flick Nightmare City (1980) his second horror film, still breathing life into his work.
An Anthropologist Gloria (Lorraine De Selle (Wild Beasts )) takes a trip into the jungles of Colombia to study natives and determine if the cannibalism ever existed or if just a myth, accompanying her, is her brother Rudy (Danilo Mattei) and their free-spirit friend Pat (Zora Kerova). In the course of their adventure they meet two battered individuals with one featuring a very sadistic nature, Mike (Giovanni Lombardo Radice (The Church )) portrays it very well throughout the movie, and his buddy Joe (Walter Lucchini). However, this all second to the opening of the film that begins on the streets of New York City with drug addict looking to score heroine from his dealer Mike, the same one in the jungle, who fled since owed local mobsters $100,000 dollars. The group ventures into the village of cannibals, with no one there, the trio aid Joe, while Mike and Pat become romantic involve and sort cocaine, and becoming violent to the local natives, and here Pat explores and exposes not only her body, but also her dark side to harm the innocent. Giovanni, truly enjoys his character is actions all selfish, uncaring, immature, violent driven, and staple in the brutality feature films of the era. His vile actions become the downfall of the entire group, however Joe, informs Gloria and Rudy of truths involving Mike, many shocking and disturbing incidents. Soon enough the grotesque actions start many centered on Mike, which only encouraged his anger bubbling in his guts, simply stated the plot is these films has no complexity, the straight-forward approach wins out, as the audience demands the savagery and any delay only festers in them to call-out for ringing of the dinner bell.
The majority of the cast serves as a prop, with Mike taking the most attention, and the director arranging the dining experience for maximum effect. The strangest one in the cast hands off comes from Pat, portraying the slutty behavior to get a shower and then fulfill carnal lusts with disregard for anyone looks just her enjoyment; literally, anything is on the table or even under it to achieve her goals. Her T&A adds to the elements of torture and betrayal, all with dire situations awaiting them all, for others misdeeds, justice taken too far. While in the cannibal films not left to the imagination, aside the common castrations, and burning of genitals, with eyeball gouging, piranha feeding frenzy, feeding relentless on the fallen victims, chopping top of the head and from picking chewy brain bits. All that is mainly the men, but wait, cannibals truly endorsement equal treatment to women, and especially Pat, with the infamous hooks through her breasts, Ferox’s version of torture compare to Holocaust’s pole through the entire body. The traumatizing events for the most harden shock proof horror fans, it truly separates the divisions in the genre, cannibals’ torture sometimes outweigh the feeding frenzy of zombie hordes, a difficult challenge to say which sub-genre wins outright.
Cannibal Ferox has traveled an interesting course in cinema history banned in 31 countries for the animal cruelty and yet earned a Guinness Book World Record for that barbaric display images. Thriller Video in the US markets usually had Elvira give her customary cheesy introduction of a movie; she passed on the vile movie, in adamant fashion. Yet, fans still eager to see this movie, now with social media, occasionally a print is available to show at a midnight movie theater, though never a large chain, an old “mom-n-pop” place, with a hidden and almost clandestine meeting. The history of the film just gains the infamous badge of outrageous actions, becoming a bit of folklore similar the status of Faces of Death. Grindhouse Releasing pulled out all the stops for this DVD, deluxe edition, loaded with countless house on content with a 2K transfer from original negative and while two scenes mere seconds long added it with subtitles ad to the allure of the movie. The copy has all the wanton desires the most dedicated horror fan could want for their cherished collection, and includes a special feature documentary, Eaten Alive: The Rise and fall of the Italian Cannibal Film, and wonderful treat, which includes the soundtrack of 20 main segments and many alternative takes.
This movie contains all the cheesy dialogue and gruesome twisted actions done to characters that for the most part earn the destruction of themselves and souls, it is not for the weak stomach individuals, though the score for the flick as the right amount of sleaze. Overall the exploitation and grindhouse fans will find pleasure in this release, and as the general fan, or even those new to the genre, the recommendation to avoid, definitely not for the teens seek a mere suggestion of T&A, more than you can bargain for it Lenzi’s frames. Cannibal Ferox is a gross, repulsive delight the hardcore fans only!
This review was originally posted on Rogue Cinema website on October 2015 with a view count of 1,883.
Imdb Rating: 5.2/10
Baron’s Rating: 6.5/10
The Trailer found YouTube from BladeInThe Dark: