Cannibal Terror | Varied Celluloid

Cannibal Terror

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 12 - 2008


The Plot: A group of criminals who are fed up with not making any big bucks decide to go for broke and hatch their biggest plan yet. They find a young girl walking through the streets one day who’s father just so happens to be a very rich man, and the gears begin to turn as the female of the group suggests they kidnap the kid. Marvelous idea! So they set out and do just that, now with the kid in tow they hook up with some of their mob contacts in order to get a ride across the border down near the jungle. There they run into a polite older man and his younger beautiful wife, and force themselves into their villa. There the psychopaths remain, but unknown to them, a cannibal tribe lives just a few hundred yards from where they are sleeping – and they don’t take kindly to strangers.



The Review: There’s no getting past it, Cannibal Terror is indeed one of the worst of the cannibal genre. I’m not really the type to go tearing into films, and I’ll try to hold myself back – but Cannibal Terror really is as bad as everyone will lead you to believe. Well, I can’t say that, most people who I have read from that have reviewed have made it sound worse than Burial Ground of Nightmare City – which it is not but it’s still right up there with it. What makes it so bad? Well, from a technical standpoint Cannibal Terror is a jumble. A mess. There are certain things you can forgive with a minimal budget, but when all of those inadequacies start to add up on top of a script that simply shouldn’t have been written in the first place due to how bland it is as well as editing that just seems to prolong the film into complete and utter boredom by the third act. The film is far from the worst I have ever seen, and if I had to say anything about Cannibal Terror it would be that it is simply “ordinary” with the only thing pushing it past that point is just how inane it can be. Apparently, if IMDB is correct, the film was a French production rather than an Italian one – but I suppose the filmmakers didn’t focus on the better parts of the Italian cannibal genre when deciding to mimic their ideas. In the end, Cannibal Terror comes out feeling like a cheap flick made for a quick buck with no real aspirations of being anything other than just another gory drive-in cheapie. Unfortunately the film is somewhat low on the gory side of things and stock full in the cheapie department.

So, what is so dreadful about the movie? Well, sometimes the little things just start to add up. Although not the original filmmakers fault, the terrible English dubbing for the film doesn’t help anything and just sinks the credibility of the whole production even further down the tubes. Then there are all the small things, like the lack of muzzle fire coming from the majority of gunshots in the film, where it seems obvious the actors are simply moving their guns left to right while sound FX are played over the scene. That’s not such a horrible thing, although it would be easier to excuse it if it were made in the 1950’s instead of the 70’s, but still not such a bad thing. However, when you don’t have the ability to shoot on location there’s no need to try and trick the audience. You’re not going to convince people that your characters are nestled away on the North Pole if you’re shooting your film on the beaches of Florida. Such is the case with the film and our “jungle” environment. It is so obviously a European location, and something shot in a forest and not at all a jungle of any sorts. Mixing in stock footage towards the end was a nice attempt at a bait and switch, but far too little far too late into the film. Even though Mattei overdid it in Hell of the Living Dead, at least he knew to keep the stock footage rolling throughout in order to envoke the atmosphere! On top of these obvious forest surroundings, we have our cannibals themselves… they have to be the only caucasian tribe of cannibals in all of the amazon, I guarantee you that much. Yes, we have average European gentlemen playing our cannibals here. Most with dark hair, but occasionally if you look close enough you’re catch a blonde amidst them all as well. I suppose all of these things individually would be forgivable, but adding them on top of the grinding pace of the film and all you can think to do is start picking the film apart. Especially when in some portions of the film the editor actually uses the same shots two or three times in order to drag the film our. I’ll break it down for you: Camera #1 shows cannibals lunching on some poor innocent girl, cut to Camera #2 where white-cannibal stands in front of fire for roughly two seconds, cut back to Camera #1 where we see more cannibals lunching on the poor girl and finally back to Camera #2 AND THE SAME SHOT OF THE WHITE-CANNIBAL STANDING IN FRONT OF THAT FIRE!!! And the guy is balding with a comb over! Although not watching the film right now, I would venture to say that same shot with the same movement was shown roughly three times during this one sequence. That’s just Cannibal Terror for you I suppose.

So, what is there that’s tolerable about Cannibal Terror? I’m not the type to simply blanket state that this film is unwatchable. It really isn’t. It’s fun to poke fun sometimes, but there are three reasons you genre fans might want to see this. First, it was part of the Video Nasties list in the UK and there are plenty of folks out there who simply HAVE to finish seeing every film on that list before they die. The second reason, the gore. Truthfully, the gore here really isn’t that bad. There are only two or three really gory moments and mostly consist of cannibals ripping out the intestines of some poor sap – but these scenes are usually quite bloody and can even be pretty disgusting. The third reason, the film is for completists like myself. I started with Cannibal Holocaust, moved on to Cannibal Ferox and have been on the hunt ever since. I don’t even know why, it’s not like I have even found that many great flicks in the Italian cannibal genre, I’m not particularly interested in jungle living and outside of watching Man Vs. Wild I could care less about watching native rituals in the jungles and rainforest – but when I stumble across a cannibal film made in the 70’s or 80’s; it is a no brainer I have to see it. Such is the reason why I tracked this one down and is likely the reason you are reading this now. So, is it worse than everything that has come before it? No, not really, but is it an underrated classic? NOT ON YOUR LIFE! I give the film a two rating, due to the two reasons above. No, the video nasty list and being a completist do not make this a better film; but if you feel the same as I do you will have no regrets after watching the film and I would feel like a liar if I said I didn’t get some kind of enjoyment out of this film and films like it.



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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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