MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY; WOMAN FROM DEEP RIVER
Many of these cannibal films have no redeeming value and exist only as a smorgasbord of extreme mutilations, including the depiction of animals being slaughtered and gutted on screen. The violence shown here is disturbing. Umberto Lenzi weakens us up first by showing some unflinchingly real scenes of animal savagery an anaconda crushing a ferret to death, snakes being fed to lizards, the natives gutting and cooking turtles and lizards over a campfire. The film slowly builds up to its human savagery and this is shocking when it comes like the scene where the natives cut open and eat the intestines of Walter Lloyd, or when John Morghen gets his arm cut off at the wrist with a machete. There is the scene where John Morghens genitals are cut off and eaten by the native chief, which is shocking and certainly one of the most infamous scenes in the cannibal genre. Although, it is a scene that exists more in reputation than it does in depiction on the screen we never, for instance, actually see Morghens dick or any of the blood, just a shape that the chief holds up in his hand in medium shot. Much more shocking is the unflinching nastiness of the scene where hooks are placed through Zora Kerowas breasts and she strung up by them.
Cannibal Ferox is perhaps one of the few of these cannibal films with any redeeming merit. Unlike most of the other films in the genre, it has a message that potently questions the extremes that it serves up the central characters quest to deconstruct the cannibalism myth is played with much ironic regard. The ending where a shell-shocked Lorraine del Salle receives her doctoral dissertation for a paper denying the existence of cannibalism is extraordinarily cynical in light of the catalogue of savageries we have just seen. Cannibal Ferox also has a serious underlying message (albeit a shakily anthropological one) about cannibalism being something that is imposed on natives by colonialism Lorraine del Salle believes that cannibalism was a myth created in order to subjugate natives and this is born out by John Morghens drug dealer who imposes violence on the placid natives only to see it visited back on him. Del Salle has a pointed line later on, which spells it out all too unsubtly: What a goddamn fool I was thinking I had to leave New York to find the real reason behind cannibalism. Do you realize it is us, the so-called civilized people, who are responsible for their cruelty? Us and our so-called superior society. Violence breeds violence.
Umberto Lenzi had a prolific career making low budget films between the 1950s and 90s, working in numerous Italian exploitation genres. His other genre films include:- the superhero film Kriminal (1966); the spy film The Spy Who Loved Flowers (1966); the giallo Orgasmo/Paranoia (1969); the giallo So Beautiful, So Perverse (1969); the giallo An Ideal Place to Kill/Oasis of Fear (1971); the cannibal film Deep River Savages/Man From Deep River (1972); the devil worship film Knife of Ice (1972); the giallo Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (1972); the giallo Spasmo (1974); the giallo Eyeball (1975); the cannibal film Eaten Alive/The Emerald Jungle (1980); the zombie film Nightmare City/City of the Walking Dead (1980); the sword-and-sorcery film Iron Master (1986); the haunted house film Ghosthouse (1988); the occult film Hell's Gate (1989); the psycho film Hitcher in the Dark (1989); the slasher film Nightmare Beach (1989); and the occult film Demons 3/Black Demons (1991).
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