Watching Ruggero Deodato’s “Cannibal Holocaust” was an experience that I still remember with fondness. I sat with the DVD in hand at my television with a pit in my stomach and prepared to finally view what is considered one of the most controversial and taboo films ever made. And I wasn’t disappointed. Watching “Cannibal Ferox” was a different experience altogether. Maybe it was because the movie is not as good as the aforementioned horror film, or maybe it’s because Umberto Lenzi approaches this horror flick from a sexploitation angle with sensual women ravaged by cannibals instead of the mock documentary style as Deodato’s film.
But something didn’t click with me, even in spite of my best efforts to enjoy this. “Cannibal Ferox” is very much like Deodato’s film in which Lenzi attempts to show how the civilized white man is much more of a destructive savage than the primitive cannibals, all the while bringing a revenge story to full circle with cannibals looking to strike back at those that interrupted their peaceful existence. There’s the same amount of animal cruelty, less the social commentary, and horrific performances that keep “Cannibal Ferox” from being a stellar horror thriller. Lenzi and Deodato do have one thing in common beyond one ripping off the other, and it’s the inherent xenophobia that’s carried over to modern horror movies. Whereas directors have preached the fear of foreigners, Lenzi and Deodato seem to have a fear of the American, the individual who is smug, self-entitled, and ravage other cultures for their personal gain.
Of course we know that’s not true in today’s society… right? And sadly like Deodato’s film, the message of we being the true cannibals in a tribe of savages is pounded into our heads to the point where we begin to think “Alright, we get it!” When all hope is lost, Lenzi does make good on the promise of grue with some rather grotesque acts of torture and vengeance. While the production stinks, and the basic finale is confusing, “Cannibal Ferox” is not a complete waste of time. It entertains in many instances, but sadly not as much as the previous cannibal films I’ve encountered.I don’t know, I personally prefer “Cannibal Holocaust” when all is said and done. While it has its up points, it’s clunky, tedious, and is a basic retread of material from Deodato’s horror flick. It’s good just not great.