I’m more of a recent fan of the cannibal film, not due to any aversion to the gore or senseless animal slaughter, but simply because up until a few years ago other sub-genres of horror held my interest more. With such a focused interest, one can often find them self running short of new and exciting things to watch in rather short order. Enter cannibal movies, possibly some the most controversial films to come out of the late 70’s and early 80’s era of film. So much so that they made up a good portion of the UK’s Video Nasties list, a veritable who’s-who of classic gore flicks.
Anyways, on to the movie. This time out I chose to expand my cannibalistic movie knowledge with Slave of the Cannibal God aka Mountain of the Cannibal God aka I’m sure there about 5 other titles for this movie that I’m not looking up right now. Why so many titles? Probably due to the aforementioned Video Nasties list and the cuts they demanded be made so these movies could actually be released in theaters. There are by IMDB’s count at least 6 different cuts of this film, all due to censor boards in different countries requiring different parts be cut depending on what they felt was too offensive. As such, I’m not actually sure how complete the version I watched was as it was a ex-rental VHS (from Wizard Video if there are any more informed readers out there who could enlighten me).
The plot of the movie is fairly straightforward. A woman (Ursula Andress) and her brother enlist the help of Professor Edward Foster (Stacy Keach) to act as guide, adviser and all around bearded good guy in there search for her husband, an anthropologist who has gone missing in the jungles of New Guinea while searching for, Uranium I think? Like that really matters, right? In the course of this search the typical pitfalls of every cannibal/jungle movie befall our protagonists: spike traps, animals attacks and of course almost naked, mud caked natives wielding spears. On the topic of mud caked natives, what’s up with the hornets nest masks? Not criticizing, just honestly curious. Were they just dreamed up by the director because they set the natives apart form the rest of the genre’s rather generic “villains” or do they actually hold some meaning? Also, and more importantly, where can I get one for Halloween?
This films is filled with all the familiar tropes of the cannibal sub-genre: xenophobia ,brutal violence and animal cruelty,. I’ve always found cannibal movies to be a one of the better examples of the western worlds imperialist attitude toward cultures we don’t understand. Obviously the only course of action when you encounter something that differs from your world view is to cause the practitioners of it harm, usually in the form of burning down a village or two right? I will say that this movie doesn’t go down that path and it’s all the better for it. Beside, the white folks in this are too busy double crossing and back stabbing to even begin to fuck with the natives.
The film keeps a fairly even pace through out, only really dragging towards the last act (and this could have been partially due to my viewing this movie on a well worn VHS and not being able to discern this dark black shape form that dark green background once in a while) which is more than I can say for other entries in the cannibal genre. I found myself enjoying this movie more at times than Cannibal Ferox, arguably a much more popular and well known movie. Sporting a decent amount of gore, some (very unfortunate) animal brutality and a healthy amount of Ursula Andress’ breasts, I definitely recommend this movie to anyone interested in cannibal movies. But be warned, the animal cruelty on display in this film is very real and if you cannot stomach that, I’d shy away. I don’t know of anyone that would go into a cannibal movie unaware of the mistreatment of animals that was rampant in the genre, but now at least it can’t be said I didn’t issue a warning.