So who has sat through all of the 72 video nasties? If you have you certainly will have shuddered at the memory of a few shockers in more ways than one. For every Evil Dead there is a Night Of The Demon, for every Possession, a Frozen Scream and for every Cannibal Holocaust a Cannibal Terror. The lucky ones went on to become cult favourites and are fondly reminisced about, the others sunk to the bowels of obscurity and memories of them are enough to make horror and exploitation fans shudder. Make no mistake Cannibal Terror a Eurocine French / Spanish co-production made in 1981 is definitely one of the latter examples of celluloid excrement ever unleashed on an unsuspecting public and quickly embroiled in scandal. That’s not to say that its UK Blu-Ray release courtesy of 88 Films should not be celebrated. Horror fans love bad films and can’t generally get enough of them and the sheer scope of how bad this one is, is exactly the reason to love it so much. I knew exactly what I was getting here when saying I would review it. Memories go back to the garish film art seen in a long gone video shop window making it a film I had to see. This was partly the reason it ended up as a nasty along with being lumped in with the much superior Holocaust, Ferox et al. I had the film on DVD and before the UK title was announced I had bought the import Blu-Ray via Severin films which is part of a double bill with the equally gruelling, shot butt to crotch feature, Devil Hunter. It took half a bottle of rum to get through those two in a double bill and less than a month later I’m back with this Terror all over again; trying to do it sober may kill me.
The premise is fairly simple. A pair of two-bit thieves and their buxom moll decide to kidnap a sweet little girl and hold her hostage for ransom. Their sheer ineptitude leads them to hold out in the deep jungle where a cannibal tribe of “Indians” roam free looking for fresh meat for their pot. With the girl’s parents mounting a rescue mission, you know it is hardly going to end up well for all involved. You might be wondering about Jess Franco’s involvement here as it has been credited to him in many respects in the past. Although involved in scripting and starring regulars from his stable such as Silvia Solar, Pamela Stanford and Oliiver Mathot he has pretty much washed his hands of this mess (and that surely tells you something) and Allain Deruelle who previously dabbled in more pornographic fare has taken the unapologetic fall for the film. Franco was lurking about in the bushes though and should accept some of the blame as he did with the aforementioned Devil Hunter and Mondo Cannibale both also scraping the very bottom of the nasty list.
I have rubbished the film and that is truly fair enough but there are reasons that you should most definitely see it if you have not already or be grabbing it to relive if you have. Laugh at the ineptitude of the gang of thieves, one of whom gets run over before he can even make the meet up. Marvel at the sheer going against the laws of gravity chest activity of gangster moll Mariam Camacho and wonder why this was the only film she ever made. Sympathise with the most well behaved little kidnap victim in the history of film and hope the “actress” who played her was never subjected to the film and her atrocious dubbing in later life. Wonder how on earth a jeep can have overheated one second and as soon as someone is abducted by cannibals, as they go to get water, everyone else is able to jump in and drive straight off. Revel in the sights and sounds of the animal kingdom due to stock footage and constant soundtrack babble of parrots. Samba on down to the music. Puzzle as to where that handy bit of rope in the jungle came from lying around just at right time to be used in a tree rape scene. Be astounded as following being raped the poor girl suddenly is involved in partying and stripping in front of her assaulter in a scene that seems to have been randomly thrown into the film in the wrong order completely! Laugh at someone firing their rifle accidently as they are cleaning it. Guffaw at the cannibals themselves who were I believe mainly Portuguese and probably didn’t have a clue what was going on. Perhaps the lead one did, he should have got an Oscar and obviously asked to be given a bad wig and modelled on Harvey Keitel circa Taxi Driver. Watch them tuck into dinner in all its ghastly glory accompanied with subtitles pointing out the slurping sounds if so inclined. The butchers shop was raided and these scenes are actually very gory, thankfully there is absolutely no real animal mutilation in this unlike the excesses of the Italian films! Watch out for several actors popping up in different roles. Play I spy and spot the vehicles trundling down the busy road outside the cannibals remote jungle village. Give praise to the local school kids who obviously helped out with the cannibal face paint and no doubt with arranging the plastic skulls on sticks. I could go on and on here but if this lot doesn’t sell it for you nothing else will! Phew.
So we come to the reason that I sat through this again and asked for a review copy. Well I didn’t want to buy it again and this does have an extra not on the Severin disc, a 47 minute documentary ‘That’s Not The Amazon! – The Strange Story of the Eurocine Cannibal Film Cycle.’ We are taken through this heady time where directors like Jean Rollin and Jess Franco literally cannibalised each-others work by genre stalwarts such as Jim Martin, Calum Waddell and Dark Side editor Allan Bryce. Films we love to hate such as Oasis Of The Zombies and Zombie Lake are mentioned as well as the studios reliance on hitting up trends from other sub genres such as the Women In Prison (WiP) films and Naziploitation. Before and even after many of these films were seen in the UK there was a certain amount of confusion due to the many titles they were released under and various pseudonyms adopted by their directors. Many a fan was caught out accidentally buying a film twice or even three times. Surviving actors such as Antonio Mayans who starred in many of these films chat about their times as cannibal chiefs and naturally Zombie Flesh Eater Al Cliver who played half of his part in Devil Hunter with arm behind his back after having it hacked off are mentioned fondly. Bad film making did lead to a bit of pay, a free holiday in the sun and sexy co-stars so it’s no surprise there were no shortage of people willing to be involved. Many of the points and plenty I didn’t even get to are made in relation to the direness and cheap fun of Cannibal Terror and everyone talking about it is completely aware how bad it is but like myself all love it as a very guilty pleasure. Personally I can’t get enough of these films and already have many myself such as the deranged Devil Hunter and jungle adventure stories such as Diamonds Of Kilimandjaro, White Cannibal Queen and Golden Temple Amazons (thank you again Jess Franco). Hopefully more are on the way here from the likes of 88 Films. As for this documentary it’s worth the price of admission alone, well it couldn’t be worse than the actual film itself could it? One thing is for sure and to quote from the documentary “it’s difficult to talk about these films without being patronising,” absolutely bloody impossible I say.
Beware we are heading back into the jungle next week with The Green Inferno aka Cannibal Holocaust 2 (1988 Antonio Climati) also via 88 Films. Hopefully I will have recovered from this one by then!