Cannibal Ferox (1981)

Comments Off on Cannibal Ferox (1981) 27 July 2015

Cannibal Ferox Blu cover

Studio: Grindhouse Releasing

Theatrical Release: April 24th, 1981

Blu-Ray Release: May 26th, 2015

Rating: NC-17

Directed by Umberto Lenzi

Review by Travis North

Also known as Make Them Die Slowly, this was the first cannibal film I had seen so my enjoyment of it may bias this review.  There is certainly a reputation with Italian cannibal films, and while this isn’t a non-stop gorefest, it certainly lives up to, or down to, the reputation.

The plot is your standard cannibal cliché of a group of outsiders (in this case three students and two drug dealers) crossing paths in the jungle, taking advantage of the natives, and eventually getting their comeuppance.  Any attempts at a message are almost accidental, unless you think “who is the REAL savage?” constitutes a deep thought. 

Most people watch for the gore and exploitation elements, which Cannibal Ferox delivers.  There is plenty of nudity, drug use, rape, complete genital destruction, and since this is a cannibal film the mandatory animal abuse is also on display.  Of course anyone sensitive to that might want to have the fast forward button handy, since this version includes deleted footage that actually extend a scene of a pig being stabbed.  Of course everyone involved has a bunch of excuses about these scenes, as seems to be the case on every cannibal film.  Your hardcore horror fan knows what to expect, and should be satisfied at this genre entry.

While there is not much to talk about in regards to plot, the amount of bonus features included in this Blu Ray are exhaustive and provide hours of content to peruse through.  Compared to the old DVD, it looks like everything got ported over, except for a fold out poster.  Besides the feature, the first disc has a full length documentary on cannibal films (which includes the still unreleased Eli Roth Green Inferno for some reason), audio commentary, the aforementioned deleted scenes, and trailers.  The second disc has separate interviews with the highly animated director Umberto Lenzi and three of the cast members.  While each was interesting, a lot of the comments became repetitive about the filming location and harshness of the conditions.  This might have been better edited together into another documentary, since there is re-use of some footage in the interviews.  Did each one really need to keep showing the footage of a cannibal eating a giant grub?  Just wastes time.  My favorite was with the special effects artist Gino DeRossi.  He actually still has the tit hooks in his effects shop, and refuses to sell it to some no doubt screwed up Germans who constantly call him about it.  He takes some good shots at modern effects, and you get an extended take on him ripping computers in the always annoying “Easter Egg”.  There is also an exhaustive amount of pictures to go through, which shows an obsessive fans’ level of thoroughness.  To top it all off you get the soundtrack CD, with the unforgettable Jungle Theme. 

I do have some criticisms with the feature.  I am never a fan of remixed soundtracks, since they all come off too fake sounding and unbalanced, and this is no different.  I popped in my old DVD to compare the picture, and my first thought was how bad the DVD looked.  Not 16:9 enhanced and the compression was a bit rough. 

Switching to the Blu Ray, it was much improved but still disappointing.  The amount of odd looking grain is almost distracting.  This doesn’t look like the standard grain found in low budget features of the time, and it is certainly going to be limited by the quality of the original.  When Vinegar Syndrome can put out amazing looking DVD transfers of obscure porn titles, seeing Cannibal Ferox in this state should temper anyone’s visual expectations.   This is the only reason I can’t give the release a full 5 stars for content.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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