CANNIBAL FEROX aka MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY (1981)
Umberto Lenzi’s 1981 cannibal film (also known as Make Them Die Slowly) has garnered quite a notorious reputation as it was once declared the most violent film ever made and banned in a number of countries. Far more infamous for it’s on-camera real-life animal cruelty and death, then for it’s scenes of violence against the human characters and Gianetto de Rossi’s well orchestrated gore FX. But, notoriety aside, is it a good horror movie? Not really.
The film tells the story of 3 college students (Lorraine De Salle, Zora Kerowa and Bryan Redford) who are on an expedition in the amazon and run across two drug dealers (John Morghen and Walter Lloyd). It’s revealed that the drug dealers tortured and murdered a native tribesman and a young tribeswoman to get their hands on some emeralds and now the natives are out to exact revenge for the cruelty shown their people… and revenge is a dish best served raw. Will any of them survive?
Cult flick is very slow moving and while the disturbing amount of animal violence is spread throughout, the human violence is mostly in the last act as the natives exact sadistic revenge and in a flashback around the film’s center of the drug dealers’ heinous acts of cruelty. The rest of the film is a lot of walking through the jungle or standing in huts dispensing silly dialog while there are scenes inter-spliced taking place in NYC, as the police are searching for one of the drug dealers. Director and writer Lenzi gives the film a pedestrian pace but, doesn’t add much suspense or thrills when something does happen. It’s up to the gore FX and disturbing real animal violence to give the film whatever impact and shock value it does have. And while it is sickeningly effective at times, it does not a complete film experience make.
Despite the notorious violence, and there is some sick stuff here, the film is rather dull and we are forced to sit through a lot of bad dialog before anything happens. When it does happen it is pretty sick but, other then that, the film has no atmosphere or suspense to offer it’s thin story. Another film whose reputation is far greater then the film it graces… though I can see why it received such a harsh reception in it’s time. I prefer some of the Italian zombie films of this era. A lot more atmosphere and entertainment mixed in with the gore.
WARNING!: TRAILER IS VERY GRAPHIC!