The cannibal horror film was one of the shorter-lived Italian genre film crazes but it spread just far enough to inspire a wave of quickies on the international trash-flick scene. If you’re scraping the bottom of that barrel, you’d be hard pressed to find a film more staggeringly witless than Cannibal Terror. This threadbare would-be shocker hails from France and provides a memorable example of exploiteers trying to cash in on a trend while putting forth the least effort possible.
Cannibal Terror starts off like a kidnapping thriller, with a crew of small-time criminals (including Franco film regular Antonio Mayans) snatching the young daughter of a wealthy man in hopes of getting a nice fat ransom. Unfortunately, they make the mistake of hiding out in a nearby jungle area that is on the edge of “cannibal country.” As the parents set out to find their daughter, both they and the criminals find themselves face to face with a group of flesh-eating primitives ready to dispense cannibalistic justice towards anyone who invades their turf.
Cannibal Terror is fascinating because it transforms the elements of the cannibal horror film that are normally revolting and squirm-inducing into a lobotomized self-parody. The few attempts at jungle skirmishes and chases are undermined by backyard filmmaking-level stunts and action choreography. The natives are poorly painted-up gypsies who do listless tribal dances and look off camera for direction. Even when it gets down to the genre’s expected butcher-shop gore, it’s done using a notably unconvincing pig’s carcass: it’s still gross but the filmmaking is so poor that it negates the expected squirm effect.
That said, Cannibal Terror has a certain low-road campiness that might amuse those with a taste for celluloid rotgut. The aforementioned gypsy “natives” are a hoot to watch, particularly when they do their foot-stamping tribal dance. The dubbing crew was clearly poking fun at the sorry material, especially when they do their mouth-noise version of a native language in the scenes where the cannibals talk. Add in a blaring, frequently inappropriate library music score and some gratuitous nudity and you’ve got the most shameless cannibal cheapie ever made.
Blu-Ray Notes: Severin has put forward a shockingly good effort for this quickie, pairing it on blu-ray with another Eurocine production, Devil Hunter. The transfer makes this cheapo special look colorful and sharp and both English and French mono soundtracks are included for it (no subtitles on the latter).
A few extras are thrown in as well. The most substantial is a 21-minute interview with director Alain Deruelle. He’s likeably unpretentious about his work as a sleazemeister, talking about his history in the business (which includes a few XXX films) and telling some great stories about the penny-pinching ways of his producers. He even talks a little trash about Jesus Franco. Elsewhere, a “spicy deleted scene” offers a lengthy striptease during a party scene and there is a trailer that is as hilariously inept as the film.
A little hunting will also reveal an Easter egg in the form of a six-minute interview with Jesus Franco: he reveals how some footage from his Devil Hunter set ended up in Cannibal Terror and tells a few tales out of school about Deruelle and his producers.
In short, Severin has gone above and beyond the call of duty for this grotty little quickie and the addition of Devil Hunter makes it a nice little value for the Euro-trash collectors.