You can't keep a good cannibal down, or at least that's what they say. They're a sleazy bunch of films for sure, but if it's bad acting, terrible dubbing, over-excessive gore and nudity you're looking for, you can rarely go wrong with a cannibal movie.
Avoiding the well-known classics (Holocaust and Ferox are just too obvious) first up on our menu tonight is Joe D'Amato's last entry into the Emanuelle series (he made 14 of them apparently), the infamous Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977), starring the delectable Laura Gemser.
Second course - a 'big-budget' expedition into Sergio Martino's jungle made the following year with Ursula Andress and Stacy Keach in Mountain of the Cannibal God. So, tuck in your napkin, pull out your pepper pot, and prepare to chow down on a couple of nice and meaty cannibal steaks. Rare, of course...
Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (aka Trap Them and Kill Them) (1977)
Plot Emanuelle has a lot of sex before going on an expedition to the Amazon where she comes across (not literally) a tribe of cannibals.
Rawshark With it’s flesh-tasting tongue planted firmly in its cheek, EATLC is D’Amato’s trip into the cannibal genre, and if it’s an exploitation film which features a lot of heavy soft-core sex and extreme graphic violence you’re looking for, then this is your baby.
Supposedly based on a true story by ‘Jennifer O’Sullivan’ (the ‘fake’ true story ploy, years before the Coen bros and Fargo!), Emanuelle begins in a psychiatric hospital where one of the unfortunate nurses has one of her breasts chewed off by a patient with a tattoo above her pubic region. Luckily, Emanuelle (Laura Gemser) is a journalist working at the hospital (with a secret camera in her teddy bear of course), and decides to get to the bottom of the story by convincing her editor to prepare an expedition to the Amazon.
Lots of sex later, and Emanuelle and her entourage finally arrive in cannibal country to trot out the standard cannibal clichés – b/w footage of penis slicing, archive footage of animal deaths and groups of people hacking their way through southern Italian ‘jungle’. Things lighten up immensely with the appearance of Don Mackenzie, a self-confessed hunter (and bottom fetishist!), and his nymphomaniac wife Maggie who are in the jungle searching for lost diamonds and it’s then just a matter of sitting back to see who survives and who gets killed in the most horrible way.
This being a D’Amato film, the direction is surprisingly good, although acting and dubbing are their usual low standard. The music and (especially) sound effects are effective enough and the end raid to rescue the kidnapped Maggie is really enjoyable. But it’s the gore that’s the star of the show here, with plenty of nipple slicing, genitalia mutilation (both male and female) and a laughable slicing in half (which was apparently achieved by hanging a photo of the actor between two trees). Yes, it’s all in bad taste and extremely sleazy, but for my money, this is certainly the most ‘enjoyable’ of the all cannibal films out there, but if you’re like Jim, who “doesn’t do cannibal films”, you may well have a different opinion…
“You’d better watch it! She’s just bitten a chunk out of one of the nurse’s breasts!”
Jim It's true, I don't like cannibal films that much, but that's mainly because I've got a thing about unnecessary sexual violence and torture in movies. And let's face it, all cannibal movies revolve around an expedition to the jungle (to find an ancient artefact, riches beyond belief, a lost relative, maybe in the last expedition, or something like that) which invariably involves the cast wandering around a lot before being captured by cannibals. They are then more often than not subjected to an unnecessary amount of sexual violence and torture, usually including genitalia being cut off. In fact the only cannibal flick I can think of without that formula is the sublime Cannibal Apocalypse, which is a fantastic film that only goes near the jungle in gun-toting, John Saxon, green beret flashbacks. They don't count.
Anyway, to put it bluntly Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals tackles the inevitable boredom of the cannibal movie first half by throwing lots of what Rawshark neatly labels 'heavy soft-core' at you, and quite frankly the film's much better for it. "I'd forgotten there was this much porn in there," claimed Rawshark, after Zomblee accused him of "pulling off the dirtiest film at Zombie Club", and that was before they'd even got to the jungle. When they get there, though, things don't change much as there's then plenty of new characters introduced for Emanuelle to have more 'heavy soft-core' sex with before, shagged out, the cannibals arrive and we actually get a bit of action-gore for the last 30 mins or so. "It makes a difference from sex, I suppose." Sure does, Zomblee.
But along the way there's a lot of hilarity to write home about. Don Mackenzie - ace hunter who's dedicated his life to hunting because he loves to hunt - says "hunt" a lot while his wife tells him "You're an impotent!" although he can't be all that good at hunting as the cannibal point-of-view shots come right up to him with no camouflage for miles and he still doesn't spot any of them. So his wife, sick of being dragged around the world hunting presumably, finds solace in the arms of a big native guide (with atrocious dubbing) and Emanuelle has a naked lesbian wash with some other bird in a river while a monkey smokes everybody's fags. Then Maggie "gets carried away" - thanks for that Zomblee - the 'save Maggie plan' is hatched, executed poorly and the gore flows freely.
All-in-all top draw Zombie Club fun, and I haven't even mentioned the cast's bizarre propensity to make camp for the night every day at about half past two...
"We'd better go back and organise another expedition!"
Zomblee Rawshark confirmed my suspicions pretty quick; that Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals had "its fair share of nudity and gore" and then after what seemed like watching half a soft porn film felt compelled to say "It does get to the story, honestly."
There's so much nudity here that, although it's great at first, you really don't notice that there's a hot babe walking about with no clothes on after a certain amount of the running time. And you should notice, because Laura Gemser (Emanuelle, of course) is so damn HOT. I can't believe you guys haven't mentioned how hot she is! She also likes to talk about the "tattoo above the pubic region" a lot, and when you see this dirty little cannibal flick you'll realize just how significant the "pubic regions" are. "Needs a trim!" shouted Jim at the sight of yet another very hairy pussy, and we all agreed. All the vaginas on show here would surely benefit from a razor clearing as it's sometimes confusing which jungle they're referring to in the film.
Extra-hairy vaginas aside, this film is great fun. The dubbing really is an abomination, forcing the characters to adopt a Shatner-like halting...between...lines. Also, an early character (newspaper editor) seems to switch accent as well as his voice on several occasions. To add to the comedy value, I've never, ever seen a film where two sexy ladies are bathing each other ('s bits) by a waterfall (hygiene is very important in the jungle you know) while a monkey on the shore puff their cigarettes. That earns a review star alone!
The disappointing soundtrack consists of a piece of (out of tune) flute / bongo music which seems to be devoid of any discernable melody. This accompanies our characters as they do a lot of trudging through the jungle, discussing where they're going to set up camp for the night, except, as Jim has already mentioned, it never actually gets dark. For explorers in "Amazonia", this lot don't appear to have much energy. That could be down to the ridiculous amount of sex they're all having though. I lost count of how many times they camped down for the "night", which is just another desperate excuse to squeeze in more filth.
I think we all really enjoyed Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, even though we just started discussing grammar do's and don'ts during what must have been the 100th sex scene. This is great horror entertainment and is without doubt the dirtiest horror film I've ever seen. The in-house entertainment wasn't bad either (a proud Rawshark: ""I think this is the fourth time I've seen this film." A disgusted Jim: "Shame on you!")
Oh yeah, and it's really gory too.
"Ah...it's useless going on. By now, Sister Angelo will be well digested by those cannibals."
Director Aristide Massaccesi (as Joe D'Amato)
Cast Laura Gemser
Runtime 90 mins
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The Mountain of the Cannibal God (aka Slave of the Cannibal God) (1978)
Plot Ursula Undress meets some pig-lovin' cannibals.
Zomblee In Sergio Martino's Mountain of the Cannibal God, Ursula Andress and her brother mount an expedition to New Guinea to search for her husband. A fresh-faced Stacey Keach leads the expedition and lo and behold, they run into cannibals and the same stuff that takes place in every other cannibal movie happens. Cue the usual real-life animal cruelty, characters trudging though jungle and stock footage. Everyone is wearing clothes.
Surprisingly, Mountain of the Cannibal God is technically well made, and one could be forgiven for thinking it's an American film. Except Americans don't make cannibal movies - that's a job for the Italians. And we love them for it. The dubbing appears to be flawless, which is extremely unusual. Perhaps with the bigger names attached to the film they decided to do a proper job of it, to make it more glossy, but they forgot one essential ingredient - watchability. Why attempt to make a classy cannibal movie? That's the last thing a cannibal movie should be.
Most of Mountain of the Cannibal God isn't very good. But not in a funny way - the kind of way that you watch it with your mates and drunkenly laugh at it's crapness - it's just dull and slow moving and then to make matters worse, Stacey Keach dies about halfway through only to be replaced by another character who looks like him. I want my money back. There's a lot of "water peril" here. About 30 minutes in the middle of the film actually. It got so boring we had a chat about other films and just ignored the fact that all the characters were getting very wet.
Towards the end however things do pick up a little. It gets quite outrageous during the climax, as if the Martino was hurriedly trying to make amends for the lack of anything that had happened before. He even introduces a midget cannibal ("What's the difference between a midget and a dwarf?") and a scene involving a massive pig, which, although shocking, doesn't, and shouldn't save this claptrap. I will NEVER forget that image. Jesus wept. At the end Jim said, "I feel dirty."
I still feel dirty.
"Who the hell is Stacey Keach?" (Rawshark's flatmate Matt said that)
Jim Stone me you're right, I'd forgotten all about that pig business. That's because I'd forgotten about the rest of the movie too. That's because the majority of this movie is very boring.
Maybe it was the lack of heavy soft-core, or maybe it was the shocking realisation that Ursula Andress circa 1978 (at the ripe ol' age of 42) wasn't as sexy as she used to be, or maybe that Keach was too young to do the 'Keach' thing (you know - that Mickey Spillane bullshit that propelled him into B-movie folk lore). I don't know, but Mountain of the Cannibal God just wasn't anywhere near as much fun as I was expecting it to be. It had that plot we warned you about, those unnecessary animal sacrifices and that pig scene, but I thought the kitsch value of seeing Keach and Andress would make this well worth watching. It wasn't.
In fact, nearly all the gags we made while watching this movie referenced the first film of the night. When Keach and co want to make camp for the first time, cries of "Hope it actually gets dark in this film!" and "See, it DOES get dark in the jungle!" were plentiful. Similarly, many references were made to the common jungle use of the machete to hack at branches that weren't actually in the way in the first place, and the panic that sets in when the guy who's the Keach pretender thinks he's lost his compass, just like a guy did in the first movie when the cannibals attack and the equipment is dumped so they can run faster. Similarly both Ursula and Emanuelle are attacked by snakes at one point, but they both get rescued, so that's alright.
By the time they get to the mountain ("That must be the mountain of the cannibal God then..." - Zomblee) and the uranium loaded cave ("It's a cool cave..." - Rawshark), we were all just clock-watching...
"I'd love it if she smacked me in the face!"
Rawshark As one of the few cannibal movies I hadn't seen, I was looking forward to this high-budget (for a cannibal film at least) genre movie immensely. Keach and Andress together, the promise of more naked flesh, and Geiger counters embedded in corpse’s flesh just had my lips salivating at the prospect.
Unfortunately, both Jim and Zomblee are right – this is not a great film, and is actually extremely boring in places. It takes an age to get going, and neither Keach nor Andress can add any excitement to the proceedings. They bicker, lose compasses, mess about in waterfalls, and witness a few insert shots of de rigueur animal deaths (in this case there is no indication of human intervention, so the scenes, although distressing, are not unbearable, and are similar to those seen in your average TV nature documentary).
In fact, it’s not until the team reach the mountain of the title that things finally become vaguely interesting. Ursula Andress is stripped and smeared in orange paint (“It’s a rubbish fake tan!” - Zomblee), and is then forced to eat what looks like dried shit. Then it all goes a bit sex-mad as the cannibals engage in masturbatory games, and one poor man shags a water buffalo (apparently!). Perhaps the funniest bit is the midget cannibal, who attempts to poke Keach stand-in Manolo (Claudio Cassinelli) with a stick. Manolo lashes out with a kick that sends the midget cannibal flying towards a rock, resulting in a brains-exposed skull smash, and the only genuine cheer from the Zombie Club crew all night.
A fairly boring, bog-standard first hour, with an added 30 minutes of ‘shock’ scenes does not a good movie make, though. Perhaps the only real reason (pig-fucking curiosity aside) to watch this is to see Ursula Andress, the original Dr No girl, and Aphrodite in Clash of the Titans, in a state of Ursula Undress. But as Jim points out, at 42, she’s not quite as sexy as she should be. Which is pretty much a good description of the film itself. Shame.
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And so the Zombie Club crew emerge from our very own cannibal movie jungle, still alive, but perhaps scarred from the events we were forced to witness along the way. True, cannibal movies are not everyone's cup of tea, but Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals seemed to go down well with everyone, largely thanks to the lovely Laura Gemser (any naked chick who fires pump-action shotguns is fine by me!), some splendid gore, and a smokin' monkey.
Mountain of the Cannibal God however was disappointing, what with it being a fairly stale retread of every other cannibal film that had gone before it. A naked (and orange) Ursula Andress, sex with animals and a quite cool midget death are perhaps the only highlights (if you can call them that). If you only want to see one cannibal film before you die, see Cannibal Holocaust. If you want to see two, make Emanuelle your second choice.
Coming Soon Jim's wetting himself with anitcipation, as our next Zombie Club finally sees the long-awaited screening of Battle Truck ("Battle Truck!"), alongside Rutger Hauer's post-apoc movie, The Salute of the Jugger.