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Cannibal Ferox - Grindhouse Releasing Print E-mail
User Rating: / 21
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Written by S. J. Alpino   
Friday, 11 January 2008

AKA: Make Them Die Slowly, Woman From Deep River
Directed by: Umberto Lenzi
Written by: Umberto Lenzi
Produced by: Mino Loy, Luciano Martino
Cinematography by: Giovanni Bergamini
Special Effects by: Gino de Rossi
Music by: Roberto Donati (Budy), Fiamma Maglione (Maglione)
Cast: Giovanni Lombardo Radice (John Morghen), Lorraine de Selle, Danilo Mattei (Bryan Redford), and Zora Kerowa
Year: 1981
Country: Italy
Language: Italian, English
Color: Color
Runtime: 93 minutes


Video: NTSC R1
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Italian, English)
Distributor: Grindhouse Releasing

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“Banned in 31 countries.”

"...one of the most violent films ever made...at least two dozen scenes of barbaric torture and sadistic cruelty...If the presentation of disgusting and graphic subject matter upsets you, please do not view this film."

This homage to Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" while on its face value is a stern warning for the viewer, in actuality it acts as an enticement to prurient viewers such as yours truly. "Cannibal Ferox" or "Make Them Die Slowly" as it's known in the States is Umberto Lenzi's cinematic contribution to the fuzzy warm cannibal sub-genre of horror. While Ruggero Deodato's "Cannibal Holocaust" is the Godfather of cannibal cinema, "Make Them Die Slowly" is a good fella in its own right.

Gloria (Lorraine De Selle, “The Wild Beasts”), her brother Rudy, and their lascivious friend Pat (Zora Kerova, “Touch of Death”) travel to the Amazon jungle in South America in order to prove Gloria's doctorate thesis which posits cannibalism is a myth and does not exist in primitive society. While deep in the Amazon jungle the trio runs into Mike (John Morghen, “The House on the Edge of the Park”) and Joe, who are fellow New Yorkers claiming to be on the run from a real cannibal tribe. Mike leaves out the part about fleeing the States after robbing $100,000 from the Brooklyn mafia. The complete truth eventually emerges about the exact reason the undynamic duo is being hunted by the Indio tribe. Mike and Joe robbed, tortured, and killed a member of the tribe after the Indio failed to help them find emeralds in a river. For three lousy emeralds, Mike and the rest of the quintet get their just desserts from some pissed off Indios with an old world view of justice.

"Make Them Die Slowly" is a title which perfectly describes the events in the film. Mike betrays his Indio friend by tying him to a pole, slicing him up with a knife, graphically gouging out his eye, and grabbing his prick, cutting it off in one fell swoop. Joe ( though dying from a wound previously inflicted during his flee from the tribe) is carried out of a hut, cut open with a spear, and then the Indios rip out his viscera and chow down like a starving African at an all you can eat buffet. Pat meets a cruel end as the tribe pierces both of her breasts with metal hooks and suspends her entire body off of the ground until she eventually dies.

The pi`ece de r`esistance of the film is Mike's torture and death. Mike would have been better off had the Brooklyn mob tracked him down, because what the tribe does to him is utter cruelty. The Indios with a calculating mix of Christian justice and primitive barbarism tie Mike up to the pole he previously used on the Indio he killed. Then, the Indio pulls his cock out and slices it off. At least, Mike put his prick to one last good use by boning Pat before this unkindest cut of all. The ultimate indignity occurs when the Indio actually eats Mike's cock! Gone is any hope of at least a John Wayne Bobbitt Frankenpenis. The Indios cauterize the wound in order to prevent Mike from dying too soon. Mike tries to escape, but only to be captured once again by the tribe. His next punishment is having his hand chopped off at the wrist. Mike is then placed underneath a table with a hole cut out of it which is the perfect size for the crown of his head. Once his head is locked into place, the Indio cuts off the top of his head exposing his pink gelatin looking brain matter. The Indios scoop out handfuls of brain matter and shove it into their mouths. This scene is a far cry from the elegance of Paul Krendler's cranial gourmet feast prepared by Doctor Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter in "Hannibal."

A misogynistic tone pervades "Make Them Die Slowly". The women in the film are called “twats” at various times throughout the film. Women in the film are regarded as sexual objects that are to be used, abused, and then finally discarded. Mike impregnates his girlfriend Myrna, and then convinces her to have an abortion because the child would not have the proper upbringing since both of them were barely getting by in life. Meanwhile, Mike has $100,000 in stolen cash! While not nearly as sexually violent as the huge wooden dildo rape or impalement through the vaginal cavity scenes in "Cannibal Holocaust", "Make Them Die Slowly" has a decidedly mean streak when it comes to femininity.

"Make Them Die Slowly" boasts the tag-line "Banned in 31 Countries" which is understandable given its cruelty towards not only both men and women but also animals. There is enough animal cruelty in the film to make PETA lovin' Pamela Anderson pop an implant. A man rips the head off of a live parrot and eats his innards. A huge tortoise has his legs, tail, and then head amputated before his belly is torn open for dinner. A furry jungle creature is tied to a post, thus unable to escape the jaws of a huge anaconda. Another snake is eaten by a lizard, while a small crocodile is sliced open by Indios for a midnight snack. The most barbaric scene concerns a furry little piglet. This fat little pig certainly squealed loudly as Mike stabbed him with a knife and ever so slowly cut his soft belly open. The hairy little runt let out a death squeal before he succumbed to his cinematic, but also very real demise.

My favorite character in the film is Pat. Pat is a whiskey swilling, coke snorting, debauched slut. During the pig scene, she seemed aroused as she watched Mike slaughter the piglet. After a sweaty romp together, Mike's version of pillow talk is calling Pat a "hot pussy little whore." She is certainly excited when Mike then asks her if she wants to "make an Indio girl". Pat gives it the ol' college try, but morals be damned she cannot bring herself to that level of Sadean excess. Despite this minor moral awakening, Pat's partying amidst criminals, cannibals, and the perilous Amazon jungle and her overall libertine attitude (plus not to mention her cute face, tight body, and nipples that could cut a diamond!) earns her a hearty salute.

"Make Them Die Slowly" is a nasty, gory horror film, but like Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" it also has a message. Behind the seemingly prurient nature of Lenzi's film is the message that violence breeds even more violence. How appropriate that "Make Them Die Slowly" played at the Liberty theater on 42ND Street in NYC during the grindhouse glory years. We need modern horror films to be just as audacious and confrontational as Lenzi's film, because the PG-13/remake craze is truly cowardice and cannibal ferocious.

THE DVD

VIDEO:
1.85:1 Widescreen
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AUDIO:
Dolby Digital 2.0 – Italian, English
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SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:
- Audio Commentary
- On Camera Interview with Umberto Lenzi
- Photo Gallery
- Trailers
- Biographies and Filmographies
- Liner notes

The linear notes are written by grindhouse/42nd Street historian Bill Landis. He details the environment in which "Make Them Die Slowly" opened at the Liberty Theater. The crowd groaned and moaned during the film as a visceral reaction to its more extreme elements. The highlight of the approximately 5 minute interview with Umberto Lenzi was Lenzi's underlining of the "violence breeds more violence" theme found within the film. The biographies & filmographies of John Morghen and Umberto Lenzi are comprehensive, but unfortunately de Selle and Kurowa get short changed with only filmographies. I would have liked to know a bit of both of their life histories. The photo gallery covers different theatrical posters with alternate film titles, behind the scenes photos, movie stills, publicity photos, and some private photos of Grindhouse's Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski posing with Umberto Lenzi alongside some of his film posters. There are also three trailers one for Italy, the official US trailer, and a third trailer for Deutschland. The last extra is an audio commentary with Umberto Lenzi and John Morghen telling stories about the production.

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

 
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