Cannibal Terror (US - DVD)
Gabe checks another BBFC 'Video Nasty' off his list while picking his teeth.
Some of life’s goals are harder to achieve then others. Some people spend their days writing the great American novel, while others earn black belts or Olympic gold metals. Me, I have two goals: I want to see every single one of the BBFC’s Video Nasties, and every single Euro-cannibal film that came out of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Personally I find my goals more lofty then those of most people labeled ‘hero’, and if you’ve every tried to watch either a Video Nasty or Euro-cannibal flick you know how brave I truly am. Sometimes I get a chance to kill two birds with one stone, as in the case of Cannibal Terror, a Spanish/French made, one time Video Nasty, involving a malevolent group of anthropophagi.
Cannibal Terror is an extra special entrée in the cannibal sub-genre. Often it goes overlooked by the sub-genre’s chroniclers, though not due to its rarity. The ignorance comes from the fact that Cannibal Terror is really only two-thirds of a movie. Most of the cannibal footage is actually taken from Jesus Franco’s Cannibals, which I reviewed a while back for Blue Underground. What’s particularly funny about this, beyond the fact that no one in their right mind should want anything to do with Jesus Franco footage, is that the cannibals of Cannibals are some of the whitest and most out of shape ‘Indian Savages’ ever put to film. It took three directors and three writers to create a dismal ‘plot’ to surround Franco’s footage with, which basically consists of three underachieving criminals kidnapping a rich industrialist’s daughter and taking her to cannibal country.
Building an entire film out of scraps of Franco’s pathetic cannibal leftovers is apparently harder than it sounds. Filler isn’t quite the right word for the degree of time wasting employed here. Within the first ten minutes we’re introduced to the main players in such a meandering fashion I honestly thought that the disc had skipped back to the beginning. The thieves take three minutes to open a door, the kidnapped girl wonders around outside without incident for another three minutes, and we watch the femme fatal of the group walk about a mile through town without a cut. Then the kidnapped girl talks to her father on the phone, and he makes her guess what sort of origami animal he’s made for her for another excruciating two or three minutes. All this comes to pass, yet somehow someone forgot to film the scene where the little girl is actually kidnapped.
But all is not for naught, because around minute fourteen one of the kidnappers’ associates is hit by a car while crossing the street to the hideout, and the ensuing reaction is laugh out loud funny (‘Oh my God, the motherfucker can’t even cross the street!’). After running to cannibal country, which is sometimes tropical jungle, sometimes evergreen forest, sometimes seaside, and sometimes swamp (I’m guessing the film takes place in the land of Oz), the kidnappers kind of forget to ask for a ransom. There’s a lot more awkward pausing (‘Oh my God look! What’s that over there?!...Oh, it’s just a bird.’), but mostly the sleazy retardedness of the film makes the excruciating journey worth the high price. The near finale shootout is another highlight, as suddenly the screen cuts to black and fades back in to see the characters captured by the cannibals.
I’d like to claim that Severin has cropped Cannibal Terror too closely, especially on the bottom of the frame, but I have a feeling that the framing issues are really just the result of old fashioned bad filmmaking. The anamorphic 1.85:1 frame starts pretty dirt caked during the opening credits, but soon after the artefacts and tracking lines more or less disappear, revealing a transfer far too good for this film. There is a general haze of grain, and a fleck of print damage here and there, but things are mostly clean considering. Colours are a little muted, but mostly natural (except the stock footage shots, which look like they were raked across the ocean floor before spooling) and surprisingly solid. The whole transfer could do with a bit of brightening up, but really I don’t see anything worth complaining about. I suppose I should also note in passing that the Franco footage is easy to discern from the non-Franco footage.
One of Cannibal Terror’s finer so-bad-it’s-good points is its inane score, which repeats ad nausium. Seriously, the title track starts with the credit’s establishing shot, runs about three minutes, then starts up again after a few minutes of dialogue, from the beginning. The dubbing is among the worst I’ve ever seen. It appears that the English speaking actors didn’t even try to line up the dialogue with the lip movements, and very few of the voices (all three or four of them) match the faces they’re coming out of. There’s even a point where an acoustic guitar solo is incorrectly dubbed with some other song all together. The release is technically stereo, but it really might as well be mono. Almost all the dialogue, sound effects, and music is simply piled up equally in both channels. To Severin’s credit, the shortcomings are all in the original material, and the track is pretty clean, and rarely distorted (I noticed a few cracks in the highest registers of the music). Check out the cannibalization grunts for a real system workout.
This Cannibal Terror disc doesn’t just feature a normal deleted scene, it features a spicy deleted scene. In the scene the girl who was just raped and left for dead a scene before strips and dances for the guy that raped her. Tacky, yet strangely hilarious. We also get a goofy trailer that was apparently made by someone who didn’t actually watch the film. The trailer actually sports a couple of gore shots from Cannibals that didn’t make the final cut.
Cannibal Terror might be too bad a film for any but the most cultured bad film connoisseur to really enjoy, and the three main gore scenes may be a little two much for squeamish fans to stomach (the effects are noticeably more icky then those of Franco’s film), but if you’re the type that goes for this kind of track (like me), you might be in for a terrible delight. Those looking for a genuinely frightening time with cannibals should probably stick to Cannibal Holocaust, and those only in it for the sleaze might do better with Cannibal Ferox, though I can guarantee that there is no animal slaughter in this film. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sit back and pray that Severin sends me Franco’s Devil Hunter next.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 26th August 2008
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Deleted Scene, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Alain Deruelle, Olivier Mathot, Julio Pérez Tabernero, Jesus Franco
Cast: Silvia Solar, Gérard Lemaire, Pamela Stanford
Length: 89 minutes
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