Cannibals | Varied Celluloid

Cannibals

Posted by Josh Samford On August - 6 - 2008
The Plot: While on a trip into the jungles, Jeremy (Al Cliver) his wife and their daughter have their boat taken hostage by a group of cannibals. The cannibals kill the wife right there and take Jeremy hostage. Their daughter is lucky that she escapes, but when they bring Al Cliver’s character back to the village and chop off his arm and begin their feast – they notice a child in the river. That child is Jeremy’s daughter, and and she is taken in by the cannibals as their “White Goddess” – which I assume must be the same in English as it is in the cannibal language since the cannibals speak these words fluently. This break in the action allows the bleeding Jeremy to escape certain death and find his way back to America. Many years later Jeremy is waking up from his walking amnesia and sets his sight back on his daughter. He plans another expedition, and this time he won’t leave until his daughter is back in his arms again.




The Review: Jess Franco actually made more than just sexploitation flicks with a twist, who knew? Well, I guess everybody who has ever read through his filmography should know that by now but it’s a pleasant surprise to come across not only a Jess Franco film but also an addition to my growing nearly complete Cannibal collection. However artistic and beautiful some of Franco’s work tends to be, once you get your boots dirty in the cannibal exploitation genre – it’s hard to keep any part of you clean. A lot of the goofier things about Cannibals usually comes from the English dubbing which is simply atrocious for a European film where most of the time it’s not really distracting at all. Not the case with Cannibals. Much like the previously mentioned Cannibal Terror, the film simply checks its brain at the door and delivers a cannibal tale without any attempt at keeping the film within the realm of believability. Once again those familiar European looking cannibals are back and haunting the jungles. This time around though, they’re given more dialogue! Along with a funky score and some bikini clad babes we’re given what is right up there with the most bizarre vision of the cannibal subgenre – but still decidedly faithful to the format. There is a lack of animal butchery in this one, but is still packed with all the violence you would expect from the genre as well, and it packs on the “bad” in layers like the many other films in the genre. Though only slightly better than a film like Cannibal Terror, it still lays humbly in the shadow of even Cannibal Ferox – which isn’t what I would call a great example of the genre. Cannibals tells a moderately interesting story and jam-packs it with all the cannibal action you might expect from the genre. Guts pulled out and chewed upon, a few limb separations and a bunch of tribe members dancing around a fire for no apparent reason. Gosh I love the cannibal genre!

I’ve discussed at length what makes me love this genre, and I’m still at a loss to this day. Sometimes you just enjoy a good b-movie, and that’s definitely Cannibals in a nutshell. Nowhere near being a “great” cannibal flick and has enough of those head scratching moments to just completely boggle your mind. I know I’ve already mentioned Cannibal Terror in this review, but the two films can’t help but share the stage with one another – since apparently they both feature the same footage. I’ve searched and tried to find which film steals from who and can’t seem to find a true answer, but I’m going to go ahead and guess that Cannibals originated the footage. If you have seen Terror then you’ll likely recognize many of the main actors as well as the cannibals themselves. Know that cannibal I picked on in my Cannibal Terror review? The one with the crazy sideburns? Apparently he was just a great amount of stock footage stolen from this film right here, because he’s back! As white as ever! One of the gore pieces from Terror also originated here, in a scene in both films where a dead body that has been ravaged and strewn across the grass – it is displayed much the same in both films. The cannibals here seem much more… colorful, however. I mean that literally, since the cannibals were apparently able to find yellow, blue, red and various other colors in order to mask their faces instead of the usual black and white. I will say that this cannibal film feels more like an actual flick that was made to capitalize on the actual cannibal craze and not just an attempt to squeeze as much gore and animal cruelty as they could out of the subgenre. Even though there’s no attempt to try and keep the film realistic, the way the cannibals are shown in the film remind me of the way native Americans were shown in the old westerns – and that definitely makes this a cannibal exploitation film but it sure doesn’t make it a good one.

We’re all here for the gore though aren’t we? Well, Cannibals delivers about what you would expect. People are eaten, pieces of meat are chewed by cannibal actors off the chests of other actors – and it can be fairly brutal but nothing new for the genre. There’s one scene that I liked that unfortunately there just wasn’t enough of, and that was obviously the scene where our lead character loses his arm. It was a decent bit of gore, but actually nothing awe-inspiring. During the big cannibal moments Franco likes to zoom in extra close while tribal noises are heard over the soundtrack and the cannibals feast on entrails/meat. This does get pretty old, and you’ll likely be scratching your head before the exceedingly long sequences finish. Overall, Cannibals isn’t the best of this subgenre and it isn’t the worst – but it’s definitely on its way there. I give the film a two out of five, there are a few decent gore sequences that will get your attention but the rest of the film is fairly formulaic and tends to move at a very slow pace. Especially in the middle portion of the film where our leading man can’t remember anything about his life. Between that, the following sequences with him trying to lead an expedition and their forays into the jungle; the film starts to really lose its sense of rhythm. Then there are the gore sequences shown in slow motion that take up way too much time. All of this kills the pace of the film and by the end of it you’re just hoping for the conclusion.

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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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