Welcome To The Jungle!!!

This editon of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features a terrible trio of infamous Italian cannibal clas-sicks. These savage efforts all serve up heaping helpings of jungle carnage and an abundance of flesh ripping, gut munching, and animal cruelty. Definitely not for the weak, the faint hearted, or the easily offended. Welcome to the jungle baby. You’re gonna die.

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!! 

 

 

CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE (1980)

Vietnam vet Norman Hopper (John Saxon!) returns home from the war scarred both physically and mentally. He tries in vain to settle back into domestic bliss with his wife in their Atlanta home but is tormented by recurring nightmares where he relives the gruesome bloodshed and flesh eating he witnessed in the jungles of ‘nam. He’s also infected with a violent infectious strain of cannibalism (!) thanks to a starving P.O.W. that took a bite out of his arm. Much to his horror and his wife’s disgust he slowly develops a taste for blood, and the tender thigh meat of the flirtatious teenage girl who lives next door.

Things take a turn for the worse after Hopper’s old combat buddy Charlie Bukowski (played by the legendary Giovanni Lombardo Radice) is released from the nut house also nurturing a taste for human flesh. Charlie takes a bite out of a half naked girl inside a grind house theater and winds up on the run from the cops and an idiot gang of bikers attempting to be vigilantes. He holes up inside a large indoor flea market and blows away quite a few cops and bikers as they try to bring him to justice. Norman shows up and convinces the cops to let him go inside to talk to Charlie. Norman regains Charlie’s trust by reminding him that the best way to deal with a can of tear gas is to piss on it, “Just piss on it.”

Norman and Charlie are then both brought back to the local mental institution, where yet another deranged vet – and coincidentally enough the same guy who bit Norman in Vietnam – Tom, is also being treated. The trio of cannibals becomes a quartet when a nurse is also infected with the cannibalism virus. The four lunatics (made up with the exact same race and gender as the four leads in George A. Romero’s “Dawn Of The Dead”) fight their way out the hospital, and then waste a few street punks who get in their way before heading into the Atlanta sewers for a gut-wrenching final showdown with the police.

Antonio Margheriti directed this infamous shocker, and the very prolific Dardano Sacchetti wrote the screenplay. This is a unique “cannibal” flick, as it features cannibalism as a virus that can be spread from person to person. The deranged flesh hunters are somewhat similar to the infected killers in Romero’s “The Crazies” and David Cronenberg’s “Rabid.” They crave flesh and blood and will stop at nothing to get what they want. The violence here is really quite exceptional, with lots of brutal fight scenes, splashy gun battles, and gory flesh ripping. The opening sequence features an especially disgusting moment where the starved P.O.W.’s chomp into the freshly barbecued flesh of a young Vietnamese girl. The highlight of the film has to be the spectacular demise of Giovanni Lombardo Radice, who has a giant see-through hole blown in his abdomen! There’s also a delightful “shock” ending that ends the film on a great note.

Apparently actor John Saxon considers this flick to be a personal low point of his life and career, and in the “Cannibal Apocalypse Redux” documentary admits he that even contemplated suicide at one point after realizing he had appeared in such a vile picture. If that’s true, imagine how John must have felt a few years later when he was starring in crap flicks like “Hands Of Steel” and “Welcome To Spring Break.” This flick features more characterization and emotional depth than the standard cannibal efforts, and is well acted and very nicely shot. It’s also “nasty” enough to have been banned in the UK back in the day, and was heavily edited in the States when released under the name “Invasion Of The Flesh Hunters.” Like any action/horror/exploitation flick, this has to be seen UNCUT to be fully appreciated.

Hats off to Image Entertainment for releasing a beautiful, digitally remastered dvd of CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE that is 100% uncut. It also includes several “sewer dwelling special features” including the aforementioned “Cannibal Apocalypse Redux” documentary, “Apocalypse In The Streets” – a video tour of the filming locations, trailers, still galleries, and more. It’s exactly the type of special edition dvd that a superior genre flick like this deserves.

 

 

CANNIBAL FEROX (1981)

A young pair of brother and sister anthropologists – Gloria & Rudy Davis (Lorraine De Salle & Danilo Mattei), take a trip to the jungles of South America to help prove correct Gloria’s theories on the “myth” of man eating man. They intend to prove that cannibalism no longer exists, and has NEVER existed! How they can prove cannibalism never existed by simply visiting a jungle is not explained. Also not explained is why they would want to bring their hot pussied little whore of a friend Pat (Zora Kerova) along for the trip. The three idiots quickly manage to crash their jeep and have to trek through the jungle on foot.

After a tasty encounter with a native who is contently munching on some fat green worms, the gang runs into a dead body and pair of lowlife drug pushers that are on the run from the New York mob after pulling a sting on a couple of Brooklyn horsemen and running off with $100,000. At first the rather strung out Mike Logan (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) tells a tale about a tribe of vicious cannibals that attacked them and mutilated their Portuguese cocaine and emerald harvesting companion. His buddy Joe is wounded, and lets Mike do most of the talking. Later that night and the next day Mike has some fun with Pat. After a few coke fueled fuck fests he asks her if she would like to “make” an Indio girl. Pat, being a well established slut, is intrigued by this and agrees, which leads to the attempted rape and cold blooded murder of one of the young natives.

Shortly after this senseless murder the now sick and delirious Joe finally breaks his silence and tells the real story behind the death of the “Portuguese.” It turns out that the story Mike told the gang was a lot of batshit. The so-called “Portuguese” was really a young Indio boy that Mike had tortured and murdered for not producing any Emeralds from the local rivers. With the cocaine Mike was on, he went completely crazy and seemed to get a perverted kick out of make the poor bastard suffer. Mike gouged out one of the Indio’s eyes, then castrated him and left him to bleed to death. After telling Gloria and Rudy his incredible story Joe dies from an infection. This gives Mike and Pat enough time to steal all of the supplies and leave the others for dead.

The adult men of the Indio tribe had all conveniently been away on a hunting trip while Mike was on his rampage. After returning home and discovering this incredible outrage the tribe decides that all of the white people must die, slowly. It doesn’t take long for all four of the survivors to be captured and brutal and primitive justice is dished out in short order. Once the unholy cannibal ferox has begun the natives have a blast hanging Pat with hooks through her tits and then give Mike more than a little taste of his own medicine. Humiliation and mutilation are only the appetizer for this blood feast – castration and decapitation are the main course. And of course no jungle revenge would be complete without a little cannibalism for desert.

This outrageous 1981 Umberto Lenzi film begins with a thoughtful pre-credits disclaimer that warns viewers that “the following feature is one of the most violent films ever made” and that “there are at least two dozen scenes of barbaric torture and sadistic cruelty graphically shown.” I lost count somewhere along the way, but that number sounds about right to me. Pretty much every other scene consists of nauseating footage of animals being killed, either by other animals or humans. One particularly disturbing moment features a tied up and defenseless little mongoose being savaged by a large snake! However, with all the flack that Lenzi (and all the other “jungle” flick directors) deservedly gets for his completely unnecessary cruelty to animals, I’m left wondering why more people don’t hate Francis Coppola for doing the exact same thing in “Apocalypse Now,” or despise Walter Hill for “Southern Comfort.” I guess when they do it – it’s considered art.

This is my hands down my personal favorite of all of the Italian cannibal/jungle flicks. For all of its many faults I find this one ridiculously entertaining. Say what you want about this one, it certainly isn’t boring. The dubbing, the dialog, the score – all cheesy perfection. This one wins the prize for featuring the most plentiful gore of all the early 80’s jungle flicks. It also wins the prize for the most frequent use of the word “twat” in any non porno film! Speaking of porno, the infamous Robert Kerman of “Cannibal Holocaust” & “Debbie Does Dallas” legend makes a brief appearance as a NYC cop looking for Giovanni’s character. This one has a delightfully sleazy vibe throughout that lends itself to a lot of repeat viewings.

Grindhouse Releasing did a typically beautiful job with their deluxe uncensored letterboxed edition of CANNIBAL FEROX.  As usual their dvd release includes a slew of bonus features including directors commentary, trailers, and still galleries. No gorehound’s dvd collection is complete without this gem, SHITFACE!!!

 

 

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980)

Roger Kerman (“Eaten Alive,” Cannibal Ferox”) stars as Harold Monroe, a NYU anthropology professor who travels to the “Green Inferno” jungles of the Amazon searching for a missing crew of documentary filmmakers. After a long and brutal search he discovers their remains and the reels of footage they had shot before dying. The deceased documentarians had a reputation for being sensationalist filmmakers that strived to shock and offend their audience. The lost footage from the jungles reveals them to be much worse.

The film is assembled by technicians at the university and Monroe is the first to see it in its entirety. He is constantly being pursued by greedy network executives that want to buy the footage along with his incredible story. The network is convinced that the more you assault an audience the more they will love it, and that this remarkable documentary footage would pull huge ratings. Monroe arranges a special screening for them, purely to prove his point that the footage is too vile for anyone to see and that it should be destroyed. What unfolds before the unfortunate viewers eyes is sheer horror.

The four filmmakers, led by the incredibly obnoxious director Alan Yates and his girlfriend/assistant Faye Daniels had brutalized the jungle and its inhabitants in a crude effort to get “shocking” footage. Arson, rape, murder, and impalement are all part of Alan’s demented script and if the natives aren’t savage enough to do those sort of things Alan and his crew are more than willing to do it for them. The natives eventually snap after enduring such incredible cruelty and seek revenge. One by one the crew is killed, dismembered, and eaten as the cameras roll catching every last moment.

After seeing these horrific events unfold the network executives have no choice but agree that footage is too much for anyone and agree to have it destroyed. This leaves Professor Monroe to light up his trusty pipe and muse: “I wonder who the real cannibals are.”

This is the undisputed king of the “cannibal” films. No other flick in this perverse little sub-genre comes close when it comes to unsettling gruesome horror. This flick doesn’t often provide the sort of unintentional laughs you’ll find in “Ferox.” Director Ruggero Deodato deserves much credit for helming such an uncompromisingly grim and shocking motion picture. Deodato calls “Cannibal Holocaust” a “clear and straightforward denunciation of the journalistic approach as we know it today,” and if that was his honest intention I’d have to say the film was a success. That doesn’t really explain the seemingly unrelated scene where a native woman is raped and then beat to death with a stone phallus though, or the numerous scenes of animals being slaughtered.

The influence this eternally controversial flick had on later films like “The Blair Witch Project” and “House Of 1,000 Corpses” is obvious. “Cannibal Holocaust” was a pioneering genre film for using “lost footage” to help tell its story, and this plot device has been lifted several times since. This one has a bad rap for essentially being garbage, but the quality of the film making, the acting, and the score all rises well above the expectations of your average exploitation enthusiasts. Riz Ortolani’s haunting score is my favorite part of the film. The pacing is excellent and the film is beautifully shot. I’m a big fan of this one. If you don’t want to take my word for it you should consider the fact that “Cannibal Holocaust” made more money in Japan than “E.T.”  Who are you to doubt the great nation that gave us Godzilla?

In the proud tradition of their superior “Cannibal Ferox” dvd, Grindhouse Releasing unleashed a devastating two disc deluxe edition of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST that has more bonus features than you can shake a severed limb at! There’s a behind the scenes documentary, directors commentary, interviews with the stars, trailers, still galleries, and much more. Essential purchase.

 

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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One Response to “Welcome To The Jungle!!!”

  1. Great reviews. Love these flicks. everyone should be tied down and forced to watch these. This is the face of true horror.

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