Wednesday 6 March 2019

Dark Eyes Retrovision #11 and #12 - Cannibal Terror (Spain/France 1980) and The Green Inferno (Italy 1988)

88 Films have dug deep to restore and reissue two movies from that most controversial of horror movie sub genres, the cannibal film. When I was a lad, in the early days of video hiring back at the beginning of the 1980s, it was always cannibal movies that were on the 'must watch' list (and which stayed there by virtue of the fact that they were always on hire to someone else!). While the major films within the subgenre have since been recovered and made available in an (almost) uncensored form, two imitator offspring movies, Cannibal Terror and The Green Inferno, while inferior to their more well known parents, are still worth investigating.

Cannibal Terror (Spain/France 1980: Dir Alain Deruelle (as A.W. Steeve) and Olivier Mathot) Adult filmmaker Deruelle teamed up with first time director Mathot for this story of three small time crooks involved in the bungled kidnapping of a little girl, hiding out in the house of a friend which just happens to be located in a part of the world where cannibals dwell.

Cannibal Terror is a good ie typical example of the output of the French Eurociné company. In the 1960s Eurociné diversified into softcore porn filmmaking, but, after the bottom dropped out of the market because of the newly legitimised hardcore scene, they moved into horror and exploitation titles, of which there were many. Like all such companies, Eurociné prided themselves in bringing out cheap as chips copies of whatever mainstream films were hoovering it up at the box office - Cannibal Terror is clearly an attempt to make some money off the notoriety of Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust released the same year.

However, one's expectations need to be completely reset for this one. Deruelle seems to have employed scriptwriters from his porn career for the film's dialogue; when there is any dialogue, that is. A good two thirds of the movie is spent with various groups of people walking around in a very unconvincing Amazonian jungle (actually Alicante in Spain). For a director with an exploitation background there's surprisingly little nudity here, and mercifully no animal cruelty. What there is in abundance are shots of actors staring lifelessly at each other, and some of the most fake natives you'll ever see - basically pale skinned Spanish extras who seem to have their work cut out for them not to burst out laughing when they're in shot. The cannibal scenes are restricted to two separate sequences (which look to be repeated) featuring the unconvincing natives faking an endless chow down on what looks like the intestines of a pig. Fans of Jean Rollin and Jess Franco (who worked on lots of Eurociné releases) may get a kick out of this, but it's a hard slog. Oh and watch for the cars moving in the distance in one of the film's final shots of the seemingly uninhabited jungle.

Extras include 'That's Not The Amazon! - The Strange Story of the Eurociné Cannibal Film Cycle’ with some entertaining observations by film critics and actors, and a deleted scene.

The Green Inferno (Italy 1988: Dir Antonio Climati) This was the last feature made by the director of the notorious 1975 documentary Savage Man, Savage Beast, but anyone expecting a return to the gruesome excesses of that mondo 'classic' will be in for something of a surprise.

Filmed at the fag end of the craze for this type of movie, The Green Inferno (the title was borrowed for Eli Roth's considerably gorier 2011 homage to cannibal cinema) plays more like an action movie than anything else.

Fred and Mark, together with journalist Jemma, steal an aquaplane and fly into the dense jungles of the Amazon to locate the missing Professor Korenz. On the way they pick up a native girl, Kuwala, who helps them navigate their way and deal with the Imas tribe, behind who Korenz might be hiding.

Originally devised as a TV movie, while The Green Inferno nods to the 'classic' cannibal movies, this is a very cann-lite outing. In the grand tradition of action flicks, things move at a very episodic pace, with the party contending against bats, elemental barriers, the jungle itself, and finally some rather hacked off natives. The film, while not actually including any animal slaughter, contains a lot of scenes, including monkeys out for the count and frogs being raced, which flirts with the cannibal movie staple without showing it. It's not an unenjoyable film, just a little dull, but any movie featuring a trumpet playing anthropologist forming an island jazz outfit can't be all bad.

Extras include 'Scenes From Banned Alive: The Rise and Fall of Italian Cannibal Movies,’ a 30 minute survey of the cannibal genre with Italian directors, Ruggero Deodato, Umberto Lenzi and Sergio Martino, that manages to avoid any mention of The Green Inferno; the original Italian opening and closing credits, and a remastered trailer.

Both films are released by 88 Films on Blu ray from 8 March.


  1. David, you're taking out the garbage so the rest of us don't have to ! I never did catch Cannibal Terror back in the day, I can't recall a single endorsement from even the most enthusiastic of trash fanatics. Still I paid my dues with Devil Hunter, which was truly horrible. Steve Thrower makes a spirited defense of the film in the second volume of his Franco biography, but I don't think I dare take a second screening.

  2. Ta for your comment - actually both movies rather suggest I'm dealing with the recycling (geddit?). Yeah Calum Wadell tried his hardest to get us excited about Eurocine in the extras for CT but, well, knock yourself out and all that.