Back in the 1980’s, European horror filmmakers were constantly ripping one another off, racing against the clock and churning out their versions of whatever film or genre was popular at the time in hopes of a quick cash-in. The results were occasionally better than the films that inspired them (Jorge Grau’s excellent “The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue” is, in my opinion, one of the finest zombie films ever produced), but, more often than not, limited budgets, lackluster talent, and insanely short shooting schedules led to films that were, at best, merely passable, and, at worst, laughably inept. Cannibal Terror falls squarely in the latter category.
A trio of petty thieves decides to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy couple in the hopes that this will finally be their big score. When things go awry, however, the crooks take the little girl and hide out “across the border”, in the jungle home of a criminal associate. When one of the crooks rapes the voluptuous wife of their host, they are left to fend for themselves in a jungle that is smack-dab in the middle of cannibal country.
I don’t quite know where to begin with this one. It seems as if the film were being made up as it went along, with one ludicrous plot device leading to the next, with nary a hint of logic to bind them. Take our three crooks, for example. Their reasoning for abandoning their kidnapping plot and hiding out in a jungle (which they are TOLD is full of cannibals) is the fact that one of their accomplices is hit by a car while en route to their hotel. It’s an innocuous accident at best, with the victim literally limping away from the accident, but its reason enough for the mastermind of the kidnapping to panic and call in a favor from one of his friends, who advises them to disappear in the jungle until he “smoothes things out”. Smoothes what out? Their accomplice was barely bumped by a car whilst crossing the road. His injuries don’t even seem to merit a trip to the hospital, yet the kidnappers are so thoroughly spooked by this incident that they don’t even wait to see if the police even bother to call in an ambulance before deciding to skip town.
Once our crooks arrive in the jungle, they are greeted by a woman with a jeep who was sent to take them to their destination. She warns them of the ever-present danger of cannibals, but, when the jeep’s radiator overheats she’s the first to run off into the forest in search of water, only to be carried off by the very cannibals she warned everyone about. What’s even stranger is that the crooks jump back in the jeep and drive all the way to their “friend’s” house with the vehicle displaying nary a hint of the mechanical failure that led to the woman’s demise in the first place.
As for the jungle, well, save for the stock footage of the occasional monkey, it looks an awful lot like a Spanish desert to me. Not exactly the sort of territory one would expect to find a “lost tribe” of cannibals. Then again, cannibals don’t usually sport Elvis sideburns, goatees, or shock wigs, either. And, while I’m certainly not an anthropologist, I somehow doubt their leader would be a white guy with a gray mullet.
The gore effects in Cannibal Terror are just as incompetent as every other facet of the production. There’s one scene in which a woman is laid out on a sort of sacrificial alter, and, when the tribe’s leader cuts into her with his machete, the woman is now three times her size and looks remarkably like a dead barnyard animal of some sort. As the cannibals dig through a seemingly endless stew of innards, rubbing the blood and guts all over themselves, some go so far as to actually place what looks like chunks of raw chicken into their mouths, and gingerly chew it, as if the director were holding a gun to their head (and, with a movie like this, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true). This is all set to a soundtrack of saxophones and steel drums that sounds as though it were culled from an ‘80’s beach comedy.
Severin, once again, delivers a Euro curiosity in a solid 1.85:1 transfer that, save for a very scarred title sequence, looks quite sharp and clean. The 2.0 audio track is a bit on the “crunchy” side, with brittle sound FX, subpar bass, and a gloriously distorted version of the film’s unrelentingly cheery score, but that’s to be expected as few of these films have decent audio tracks to begin with. Extras are also scant, with a trailer and an “extra spicy” extended scene.
Cannibal Terror may be an awful movie, but it’s a highly entertaining hunk of cheesy Euro-sleaze, guaranteed to make you giggle (or, at the very least, shake your head in consternation), and chock full of all of the ingredients that make the worst entries in this genre such riotously fun stuff.
Lovers of bad movies rejoice!