Killing them slowly.
DIRECTED BY UMBERTO LENZI
There’s disgusting, and then there’s Cannibal Ferox. An Italian exploitation film better known by its more descriptive alternate title, Make Them Die Slowly, filmmaker Umberto Lenzi’s opus is held up by some cultists as the most violent film ever made, and it easily ranks with the most obscene in its treatment of animals. It’s also one of the most frequently outlawed, cheerfully advertised as having no newer than “24 scenes of explicit violence banned in 31 countries.”
That’s some tough talk, but by all accounts, Cannibal Ferox delivers, if you’re the sort of person who buys what it’s selling. Subversive though the thrills may be, the plot is still pretty standard. A spiritual forerunner to The Blair Witch Project in the sense that the carnage is inadvertently caused by terrible student research, the film follows a group of friends as they head off into the Amazon to prove that cannibalism doesn’t exist. (One is reminded of the Simpsons episode where Lisa cites the absence of bears as proof that her rock keeps them away.) Needless to say, they’re soon proven wrong when they come across emerald-seeking dirtbag Mike (Giovanni Lombardo Radice, looking appropriately loathsome), who’s drawn the ire of a cannibal tribe that’s now out for blood. The rest is history, or, more fittingly, anatomy.
Whether the gore is as superlative as true believers insist is hard to say. These things are a matter of taste, though we’re not sure we personally want to know anyone who’d consider an especially nasty bit featuring a pair of hooks tame. Mayhem aside, for the rare few who can stomach it, Lenzi’s curio is worth a look for the fascinating way it advances a colonial critique of the West’s cannibal-making lust for jewels that’s at odds with its own indulgence of primitivist stereotypes. The castration scene’s not badm=, either.
Hostel director Eli Roth introduces Monday night’s screening of the uncut version of the film. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.