Cannibal Ferox/Review 1
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Students Gloria, Rudy, and Pat (Lorraine De Salle, Danilo Mattei, and Zora Kerova respectively), venture into the Amazon jungles to see if a tribe actually exists where cannibalism is a real practice with the natives. Thanks to a "jaywalking iguana" their jeep is run off of the road and they are forced to seek out the tribe on foot, where they eventually run across two drug dealers, Mike (Giovanni Radice) and Joe, who are on the run from the cannibal tribe. They relate a horrible story recounting the torture their companion had to endure right before they were able to escape and how they had to fight off the tribe (leaving Joe wounded).
The story told by the two men is enough to convince the group that they should go ahead and return home, but the next morning as they are about to leave, Gloria ends up missing from camp. They all split up to look for her and end up discovering the seemingly deserted tribal camp. As Joe's condition worsens, they decide to stay in the camp for a little while, but Mike (whom the group discover had embellished his story more than just a little bit) ends up ruining things for them by using some cocaine and then shooting a native in cold blood. When the young men of the tribe return, they discover what has transpired and enact their vicious revenge.
Writer/director Umberto Lenzi adds yet another entry into the genre he helped to create with the grim, violent Cannibal Ferox (also known as Make Them Die Slowly). Although this film features more real animal deaths than Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust, the violence against humans seemed to be lessened. There ARE some harrowing scenes of torture performed on living human beings, but not as much gore is displayed as in Deodato's film. Make no mistake though, this film is no less harder to watch and is not recommended for anyone who is easily offended or disgusted.
For some strange reason, a subplot concerning the girlfriend of Mike being chased down by his drug dealing enemies and being questioned by the police is also included. This subplot seems to have no purpose in the film except to pad out the running time and ultimately interrupts the flow of the film.
Where Deodato's film is subtle about pointing out who the real barbarians are, Lenzi's comes right out and points the finger at us (and it's a big angry middle finger at that). Gloria's object is to discover if there is really any cannibalism, and when she does discover that there is, she realizes that it has something to do with the way "civilized" society treats the tribes that causes them to react in that way. The message is a strong one and Lenzi's way of presenting it is extremely graphic.
Cannibal Ferox has been released on a special edition DVD through Army of Darkness editor Bob Murawski and Sage Stallone's (yes, son of Sylvester) releasing company Grindhouse Releasing by way of Image Entertainment. Grindhouse Releasing has dedicated themselves to releasing the best editions of hard to find reviled B-movies around the world and they have gotten off to a great start with this widely censored film (plus their sixties throwback logo is absolutely inspired). The film is presented in a 1.75:1 aspect ratio and looks remarkably well for its age, but there are a few dark spots in the film that are somewhat murky.
The special features on the disc are extensive and include trailers for the US, Italian, and German releases; a still gallery showing poster art and production stills; liner notes written by "Times Square" historian (!) Bill Landis; cast and crew bios; a well hidden video interview with Lenzi (that is located in his bio); another well hidden clip featuring the Hollywood premiere of Grindhouse Releasing's new version of the film (hidden under the "Banned in 31 Countries" logo located on the Grindhouse Releasing credits page); and a Lenzi filmography located on the reverse side of the keepcase cover art. The best feature on the disc though, is a commentary track featuring Lenzi and co-star Radice. Radice makes his distaste for the film well known from the outset of the commentary and relates a story where he was told that Robert De Niro probably would have slaughtered a pig for one of the scenes that he had refused to film, to which he responds that "De Niro would have kicked all of their asses". Though he doesn't care for the film, he does note that his desire to have money far outweighs his desire to morally choose film roles (and he even wrote two films for Lenzi several years after the filming of Cannibal Ferox).