Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cannibal Ferox (Umberto Lenzi, 1981)

Welcome to the jungle, we've got fun and...Whoa! You're not seriously going there, are you? Yeah, you're right. I'm just kidding around. I would never go there. Though, I have to admit, it's a tempting place to go. You see, I've watched so many jungle movies over the past, oh, let's say, two weeks, that I'm surprised I haven't almost gone there sooner. It's clear as the freshly cut genitals sloshing around inside a tribal chief's mouth that the genre is beginning to have a negative toll on my delicate psyche. This particular jungle flick has the distinction of being filmed not in Spain or Italy, but in the actual Amazon. But it also has the distinction of featuring a plethora of needless animals deaths. The act of killing animals for entertainment purposes was something I used to tolerate. But after seeing Cannibal Ferox, I don't think I can remain indifferent any longer, as the animals are not only killed, some of them are tortured. Which I guess fits its overall theme, the film is also known as "Make Them Die Slowly." But there's no excuse for the amount wanton animal cruelty that appears in this film. I felt the worst for the turtle who has its limbs cut off while it was still alive and the pig-like creature who was tied to a stick while an anaconda was allowed to have its way with it, as their agony seemed unnecessarily prolonged. Animal cruelty, aside, the film is quite nasty in a number different ways. The director, Umberto Lenzi (Nightmare City), obviously has no interest in titillation. Unlike all the other jungle flicks made by Italian men, this one seems to be completely lacking in the sexy department. You have to wonder if he's really Italian. I know, with a name like Umberto Lenzi, it's hard to doubt his Italian-ness. But judging by the film's lack of eroticism, I'm starting to have serious doubts.
Of course, I'm not saying the film has to be on the same level as say, cinematic output of Jess Franco and Tinto Brass in terms of onscreen perversion, all I'm looking for is some accidental eroticism. Hey, you wanna know what happens if a film doesn't have a single moment of carnal interest? I'll tell you what, you'll get an unfunny tangent about animal cruelty. Oh, Umberto Lenzi, if you would have just given me the bawdiness I desire, we wouldn't be in this pickle of a dish towel. Hell, I would have probably let the whole animal cruelty thing slide for some unclothed thigh. But you know what? You didn't. So, here we are.  
In the spirit of transparency, there is a scene that was on the cusp being erotic: some post-coital lounging plays out between two cocaine enthusiasts. But I found the scene to be a cynical attempt to play lip service to the deviant community. Isn't lip service better than no service? No, it's actually worse, as it not only insults our intelligence, it belittles our crotches. And besides, we don't want to see Zora Kerova (The New York Ripper) lying butt naked in a hut. We don't? No, we want to see Lorraine De Selle (Woman's Prison Massacre) relaxing in a pair of deep peach-coloured short shorts while Giovanni Radice Lombardo massages her feet. Why Lorraine? She's an alluring sack of ambiguously European womanhood, that's why. Oh, and the reason Lorraine De Selle is "ambiguously European" might have something to do with the fact that she might be Australian.
Anyway, are you sure you want Giovanni massaging her feet? I'm not following. Well, he does slap her around a lot in The House on the Edge of the Park. And not only that, he calls her a twat at least three times over the course of the film. Okay, maybe that's a bad choice. Since the other male character is her brother, and Giovanni's male companion is nursing a sucking chest wound, I guess the only logical choice would be Zora Kerova. Logical, yes. But you're living in a dream world, man, this film's main concern is showing people and animals being tortured in an outdoor setting.
Just to let you know, the film features many scenes that take place in New York City; scenes where Robert Kerman plays a tough as nails cop. And I, for one, thought these scenes were a complete waste of time. In fact, you to fast-forward past these scenes, as they add nothing to the film. But they do boast the music of Roberto Donati and Fiamma Maglione. Say what you will about the inhumanity that is usually transpiring onscreen, the music on the soundtrack is always fucking awesome. 
It's true, Mike Logan (Giovanni Radice Lombardo), a coked up adventurer/sadist looking for emeralds in the Amazon, calls Gloria Davis (Lorraine De Selle), an anthropologist working on her thesis about the myth of cannibalism ("it's an invention of racists"), a "twat" on the three separate occasions. But I could have sworn that Gloria's hunky brother Rudy (Danilo Mattei), a non-coked up adventurer, calls Pat Johnson (Zora Kerova), a brainless wild child in a yellow headband, a "twat" as well (a "dumb twat," if you wanna be specific). What I think I'm trying to say is, what's up with twat? Either way, I just introduced the bulk of the characters we'll be spending the next ninety minutes with.
As Gloria and Rudy are preparing to go up river to search for a village rumoured to have cannibals, they realize that Pat hasn't arrived yet. You see, she desperately wanted to take a shower, so she went to the home of a sleazy-looking Colombian customs agent to take one (and I'm sure, receive a ripe Columbian dicking). At any rate, an exasperated Rudy says, "Where is that dumb twat!" I know, it's kind of a harsh thing to say. But funny thing is, that it's the mild-mannered Rudy, not the coked up out of his mind Mike Logan, who plays the twat card first. Ironically, the reason Gloria, Rudy, and Pat (the "dumb twat" finally does show up) get into trouble in the first place is because they try to avoid running over an iguana with their jeep. I guess they could have gotten stuck in the mud down the road. But in a film replete with animal cruelty I found it rather telling that they misery in this "poison paradise" was propagated by an act of thoughtfulness.
The first "close your eyes and enjoy the music" moment comes when the trio come across a native man eating live grubs. The second comes when the pig-like creature (a baby tapir, maybe?) they brought along with them is killed by an anaconda. Actually, closing your eyes doesn't really work in this case, as the pig-shaped animal's cries of agony are just as terrible.
After Rudy has finished slapping a hysterical Pat in the face a couple of times (they come across two dead locals), the trio finally come across Mike Logan and his mortally wounded sidekick, Joe (Walter Lucchini). The reason I sound excited is because I think Giovanni Radice Lombardo pretty much rocks in this movie. And proves I'm right almost immediately when Pat offers him something to drink. He basically tells her, "Nah, I don't drink. I do cocaine." Yes! You do cocaine! Say it loud, and say it proud. God, I love this guy. I mean, Mike Logan doesn't sneak behind the bushes to get his fix, he does cocaine in full view of everybody; he doesn't care.
Hold one, Mike Logan is about to call Gloria a twat for the first time. Boom, in your face, Gloria. Of course, I didn't think it was the appropriate insult–you know, given that they have only known each other for ten seconds–but Mike Logan is not known for doing things are "appropriate."    Oh, and, unlike Rudy's twat-based diss of Pat, Mike Logan uses no embellishments when he calls someone a twat.
It doesn't take long, but Mike Logan calls Gloria a twat again later that evening when she falls in a giant hole along with a pig. After stabbing the pig, Mike Logan calls Gloria, who has mercifully changed into a bright red top (her head-to-toe khaki ensemble paired with that ridiculous-looking white bucket hat was beyond atrocious), a twat after she scolds his pig killing technique (he seemed to enjoy killing it a little too much).
Coming across an Amazonian village filled only with passive elders, the group decide to rest there. While I can't quite remember the topic of their discussion, Mike Logan calls Gloria a twat a third time. To celebrate his twat trifecta, Mike Logan has sexual intercourse with Pat in one of the huts. Jealous of his awesomeness, Rudy decides to challenge Mike Logan. Okay, he probably challenged him because he didn't approve of the fact he shot a native woman for no apparent reason. But deep down, Rudy must envy Mike Logan's swagger. So, as Mike Logan might say, "Get off his case, motherfucker!"
A great flashback sequence, narrated by Joe (who is miraculously still alive), eventually tells us the truth about Mike Logan and how he ended up in this "poison paradise." It would seem that Mike Logan isn't just cocaine enthusiast who digs blondes with small titties, he's totally deranged. As a matter of fact, he's a psychopath who gets off on torturing people, especially the locals. Don't believe me? Just ask the eyeball resting precariously on the on the end of his knife. The mysterious appearance of a rotten papaya on a stick sets in motion a serious of gruesome events, as the outsiders soon realize that violence begets violence. It doesn't matter if only a handful of them partook in acts of cruelty, anyone with a white face better keep a close watch on their genitals, as they're in grave danger of being ritualistically removed in a violent manner.

No comments:

Post a Comment