Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writer: Umberto Lenzi
Main Cast: Janet Agren as Sheila and Robert Kerman as Mark
After Sheila’s sister goes missing, she heads out with her good friend Mark on an expedition deep within a far eastern jungle to search for her. Unfortunately for Sheila, the search leads her to a village of locals who just so happen to live a cannibalistic lifestyle.
Near the beginning of the movie we see footage that was taken by Sheila’s sister of an ancient civilization with some strange (and some not-so-strange) practices, some of which are still practiced today. One in particular that is popular (especially in the body modification community) is the art of body suspension, where you have large hooks pierced through your skin -- most commonly through your back or near your knees -- and then are suspended from them, which provides the receiver with a feeling of what can only be described as a natural high. Some even claim that the experience is very therapeutic and offered them clarity with in their life. As for myself? I have a low pain tolerance and can’t help but cringe at the thought of it -- let alone the sight of it -- so with a start like this I knew I would be in for a treat. A gory, cringe-worthy treat.
The acting from all of the main actors is very strong. Everyone provides believable performances, and for the most part none of them were all that terrible on the eyes either. The setting was absolutely beautiful, and even after watching subject matter such as this I still want to travel and explore a jungle… maybe I will just be a little more careful as to where I will be heading. Y’know, just not anywhere known for people missing or with overly strange customs. Like eating people. Yeah, let's avoid places like that. Perhaps it was the way this movie was filmed (or perhaps I am being too harsh on this film, since the last few cannibal movies I watched contained people from actual tribes, albeit non-cannibalistic) but I find that the acting of the tribal folk was very weak in this film and a bit unbelievable. It’s a lot more interesting to watch when you know that some of what they are doing isn’t scripted and that some of their reactions are real. Yes, I am referring to movies like Cannibal Holocaust and Green Inferno.
My biggest complaint for this film is that you don’t see enough, and what you do get to see is very minimal. A lot of stuff happens off screen or is mentioned rather than shown to the viewer. That really takes away from the true horror of the film and takes away from the potential for the viewer to be afraid. When it comes to cannibals, I’m not afraid of what could be, I’m afraid of what I can see. Even the rape scene (which normally would make me incredibly uncomfortable) had little to no effect on me. It felt so fake and unrealistic. If you can’t even make a rape scene work for your movie then you’re doing something incredibly wrong. Overall, I was expecting a lot more. When I think of a cannibal film. I think that I am going to be watching some of the most uncomfortable, dark, and gory shit ever. When I watched this I felt like something was missing and I was left wanting to watch something else. The only thing that made me uncomfortable was one scene, where it felt like I was watching a porno and I nearly shut the movie off. I wasn’t uncomfortable in a ‘this is so messed up’ sort of way, I was uncomfortable in a ‘I’m basically watching a bukkake right now, what is going on’ kind of way. Not quite what I was looking for.
Even though this film came out only months after Cannibal Holocaust, I felt that scenes were added in after filming in an attempt to capture the same fear that was provided from that movie, like the torture and misuse of animals (which Cannibal Holocaust is so widely and controversially known for.) I didn’t search out this movie to watch animals be harmed, although I did expect it. I just felt as if they didn’t know how else to make viewers uncomfortable and afraid in the successful way that movies prior to it were able to, so they added those scenes in because their movie lacked the gory special effects and talent to truly frighten anyone.
Then, the end. This film ends in a very reminiscent way of a real-life mass murder that happened around the time that this was filmed. I don’t want to go so far as to spoil it, but once you watch this film (or even look up the end) you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s as if the director was so desperate to be cutting-edge that it regurgitated other people’s ideas in hopes of being successful.
There were also times when there was such bright and cheery Rocky-esque music and it felt so weird and out of place. It’s as if they forgot what genre of movie they set out to make. During one scene in the background there was an organ playing the oft-used-in-horror Beethoven piece Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, and it felt even more out of place due to the previous score they had been playing throughout the film. For myself, this film was overall not an enjoyable experience. If you are specifically seeking a tribal, gory and realistic cannibal movie then there are much better choices than this one. You literally don’t get any terrifying gore until the last ten minutes. Howver, I must admit that what you do see in those last minutes is absolutely disgustingly grotesque and amazing. I wish the rest of the film contained scenes such as that. I rate this movie a 3.5/10, and if I were you I wouldn’t waste your time.