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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Cannibal Ferox (Blu-ray)
Cannibal Ferox (Blu-ray)
Grindhouse Releasing // NC-17 // May 26, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted May 27, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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Cannibal Ferox:
Umberto Lenzi and Ruggero Deodato got into a big pissing match over who officially started the Italian Cannibal Movie genre. (A brief blip as far as exploitation movies go, one termed a 'cycle' by scholars flapping their gums in the extras on this release.) It was Lenzi who was first to the gut munching, with Man From Deep River, but it was Deodato who 'legitimized' the genre with Cannibal Holocaust in 1980. Not to be outdone, Lenzi roared back with Cannibal Ferox in 1981. His very nearly literal chunk blower, also known as Make Them Die Slowly, turned into the more lurid shelf-space grabber on your Mom-And-Pop video rental shelf, but will always rightly be Holocaust's red-headed stepchild; blunt, artless, and somehow more reprehensible, which is why we're pretty pleased to see this fantastic unrated, uncensored, director's cut 3-disc edition!

Here we meet a small collegiate documentary crew in Amazonia, out to prove cannibalism doesn't exist, who have the misfortune of meeting drug dealers on the run, who are out to prove that they can torture and kill primitive natives for kicks. If you've guessed by now that things go wrong, then you too may be "banned in 31 countries!" Yes, things go poorly, although [spoiler alert, if you're counting] the lead documentarian is able to make it back to civilization, in order to claim with world-weary resignation that cannibalism doesn't exist.

Why would she say this? She was probably tired of seeing dudes' brains, guts, and penises munched on by confused native actors, made-up with dried Amazon mud and bad wigs. But I digress. Dubbed "The Most Violent Movie Ever Made", Ferox certainly gives Holocaust a run for its money in creating a sense of real danger. Our actors are clearly on location in the Amazon jungle, and it doesn't look pleasant. As their jeep is propped onto the prow of a tiny scow in the river, you realize they're just one casual mishap away from being eaten by an alligator. Speaking of which, Lenzi appears to further emulate Deodato by using live-animal killings to heighten the sense of reality, and he too goes way over the top. Put it this way, if you really want to hear monkeys and tapirs or whatever screaming in fear and pain, here's your movie. Pigs are killed, alligators eviscerated, turtles decapitated, and way more than anyone could ever hope to not have to see.

The pig-killing scene (especially in its uncut version) is hideous, sociopathic, but I guess it sets you up to enjoy some demonstrations of fake dismemberment, sexual torture, and world-class gut munching. Though it's about an hour before the depravity really takes off, Lenzi doesn't get stingy with the sangiovese. This is the gold standard of cannibal gore, worthy of its locker-room infamy, yet Holocaust is still the superior movie. Where Holocaust used its unique structure to create a 'reality television' gone horribly wrong scenario that's surprisingly believable, Ferox feels like a movie, with a typical format and too-simple plot. Noted hater of the numerous exploitation movies in which he starred, Giovanni Lombardo Radice plays the crazed drug dealer with ferocious zeal, but without much grounding in reality, the character is simply an insane, coked-up psychopath who just happens to run into the film crew so they can all be conveniently strung up on hooks by the flesh-eaters.

Cannibal Ferox deserves its notoriety, loaded with blood-smeared gore and more deplorable real animal killings than any two other cannibal movies put together, it's will have your stomach churning while your jaw drops. It's also dangerously implausible, simplistic, and formulaic (when compared to its soul brother Cannibal Holocaust). This runner-up is disgusting, disturbing, and degrading, but for fans of the genre, this extras-loaded 3 Disc edition should be in the DVD Talk Collector's Series.

The DVD

Video:
Cannibal Ferox runs from the jungle in a high definition, 1080p AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen ratio 2K transfer, from the original negative. The movie looks sharper than ever, which unfortunately really highlights the amount of film grain present. Poor lighting conditions mean many of the scenes are extremely grainy, and are often intercut with scenes of much greater clarity and detail. However, it's a minor, infrequent distraction at worst, and better than digital noise reduction. There aren't any other transfer problems, and the print is in otherwise pretty great shape. Colors are fairly rich and look very natural under the hot Colombian sun. For the film's age and station, it looks great on Blu-ray, far better than before. Be prepared for some heavy film grain here and there, and enjoy some HD offal.

Sound:
Audio choices are plentiful. You get a newly re-mastered DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track in English, the original English Mono track in DTS-HD, and for ultra-purists, enjoy a DTS-HD Mono track in the original Italian. For all options, dialog and music are mixed perfectly, and everything is clear, discernable, and free of distortion. The excellent soundtrack by Budy-Maglione sounds very nice and is quite effective in stereo.

Extras:
Grindhouse Releasing packs this 3 Disc Deluxe Edition with a ludicrous amount of extras. You music fans will enjoy the CD Soundtrack with Bonus Tracks and Alternate Takes, by Budy-Maglione. We're talking 48 tracks! In addition to the CD in its slipcover, the two Blu-rays with the feature and extras are housed in a dual-spindle, double decker case, with Reversible Cover Art and a gorgeous Embossed Slipcover. A cool Booklet Insert contains stills and essays from Bill Landis and Eli Roth.

The feature Blu-ray contains a Commentary Track with director Umberto Lenzi and actor Radice recorded on separate occasions. It's kind of like a point/counter-point affair, as Radice does not hold the film in high esteem, while Lenzi seems pretty pleased. Lenzi's session is mixed more quietly than Radice's, while Lenzi mutters too, so it's a bit harder to understand than is Radice's contribution, which is quite entertaining. Deleted Footage is limited to a longer, truly reprehensible take of the pig-killing scene, and a longer, not so shocking cut of the piranha scene. Four versions of the Original Trailer are also included, plus English Subtitles, and a five-minute bit of footage from the 1997 Hollywood Premier. I almost forgot the Feature Length Documentary, Eaten Alive! The Rise And Fall Of The Italian Cannibal Film, 85 minutes of entertainment and edification presented by lively and interesting film historians and authors, detailing specifics of the relatively few legitimate Italian Cannibal films, as well as providing an overall examination of the sub-genre. Basic production values are no hindrance to a very fun movie.

That should be it, but there is another entire Blu-ray disc of extras, primarily consisting of 2-and-a-half-hours of Interviews with all the major players in Ferox: Lenzi, Radice, Zora Kerova, Danillo Mattei, and Gino DeRossi. All involved relate anecdotes from the movie with the rest of their careers, and for exploitation fans in general these interviews are all fantastic. Massive Photo Galleries cover everything from Production Stills to Video Art and Ferox Fever (articles, reviews, etc.). Fourteen Grindhouse Releasing Trailers will be familiar to fans of the company, and those dedicated to the art may even discover an Easter Egg or two.

Final Thoughts:
Cannibal Ferox deserves its notoriety, loaded with blood-smeared gore and more deplorable real animal killings than any two other cannibal movies put together, it's will have your stomach churning while your jaw drops. It's also dangerously implausible, simplistic, and formulaic (when compared to its soul brother Cannibal Holocaust). This runner-up is disgusting, disturbing, and degrading, but for fans of the genre, this extras-loaded 3 Disc edition should be in the DVD Talk Collector's Series.

- Kurt Dahlke

~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com

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