of the Cannibal God
doesn't really bother me. After all, it's just
movie makeup and special effects trickery. It's
not due to notoriously excessive gore that I've
never sought out films in the "Italian Cannibal"
subgenre. The most (in)famous of these, Cannibal
Holocaust and Cannibal
Ferox, are flicks I've purposely avoided
for an entirely different reason. I've read in
numerous sources that in these movies real live
animals are killed on camera — in particularly
nasty ways — for no other purpose than to shock
the audience. (A regular staple of the formula,
in fact.) Now I'm not a vegan or a PETA activist
or anything like that... but this, I feel, enters
the realm of obscenity.
So how then did I end up watching Slave
the Cannibal God?
For one thing, I recalled that this 1978 film
by Sergio Martino (All
the Colors of the Dark, Mannaja)
was supposedly one the earliest and "mildest"
of the Italo-cannibal flicks. Also, the DVD only
cost eight dollars! And oh yeah — Ursula Andress
gets naked in it.
She plays Susan Stevenson, who arrives in
Port Moresby, New Guinea with her obnoxious younger
brother Arthur (Antonio Marsina). They've come
to organize a search for Susan's husband Henry,
an explorer who's gone missing on an unauthorized
trek to a remote island off the coast. The government,
which has already conducted its own fruitless
search for the missing man, refuses to help Susan
since her husband's expedition was illegal. Determined
to find him, she enlists the aid of American scientist
Dr. Ed Foster (Keach), a friend of Henry who knows
the jungle well and who's willing to help. (He's
also something of a mental basket case due to
a bad experience with cannibals years earlier
— he was forced to eat human flesh.) Hiring a
small group of native bearers, Susan's illegal
search party strikes out across the jungle toward
Along the way the natives pause to cut open
and devour a live iguana, ostensibly for religious
purposes, all of which is lovingly photographed.
Later we're treated to a nasty, prolonged sequence
in which an obviously suffering monkey is slowly
crushed and devoured, head first, by a huge python.
The poor simian's limbs twitching pitifully, one
baleful, frightened eye stares out from within
the serpent's maw as it dies. This scene, like
the evisceration of the iguana, is utterly repellent.
Even worse, these actual animal deaths serve no
purpose whatsoever in the plot; there was no reason
for them to be filmed in the first place. (Animal
Planet this ain't.) Cynically, I can only think
they were included so as to provide some prurient
"shocks" — visual jolts that could not be achieved
with the cheap, unconvincing gore effects at hand.
Eventually, after much barking of orders by
Keach in "native-speak", the party reaches the
coast and takes an inflatable raft across to the
island. Tempers flare between Foster and Arthur,
whom the scientist suspects has an ulterior motive
for the expedition. As they press inland towards
Rah-rah-mee, the "Mountain of the Cannibal God",
the bearers are either spooked off or killed by
various booby traps, critters (a particularly
rubbery looking croc that Martino wisely keeps
the camera on for but a few seconds at a time)
and enemy action... It seems cannibals may be
tailing the group as it makes for the mountain.
At the jungle mission of Father Moses (Franco
Fantasia), Susan hooks up with Manolo (Cassinelli),
an adventurer who's spent 2 years in the bush
trying to "find himself". He agrees to help Susan
locate her husband, even though (and partly because)
she seduces him — so much for the concerned wife
If you think you know where this is going,
you'd be right.
After more tedium in the jungle the search
party eventually reaches the mountain. Foster
snuffs it when the treacherous Arthur allows him
to be swept over a waterfall. Arthur gets his
just desserts, though, when he takes a spear in
the gut, eventually becoming a community feast
for the grubby, cave-dwelling cannibals. Susan
and Manolo are captured. In the film's most famous
scene, Andress is tied to a post, stripped naked
and covered with ochre paint by a pair of agreeable
female cannibals. (At 42 the ex-Bond Girl still
has a magnificent bod; this sequence is much too
short.) She's later forced to eat a piece of her
brother... Yum! Things are looking pretty grim
for the captives until a midget cannibal decides
to torture Manolo while everyone is sleeping.
Manolo kills the dwarf and manages to free himself.
After rescuing Susan (who it turns out didn't
give a shit about her husband; she and Arthur
were really after uranium deposits), Manolo defeats
a couple of cannibal warriors and the two of them
escape from the mountain. The end.
And not a moment too soon. This movie, regardless
of how much footage is cut or restored — this
disc is supposedly minus a castration scene —
or what title it's under (see below), is dumb,
boring and vile. It's a complete waste of time...
even with Ursula in her birthday suit. (The keepcase
says the film runs 86 minutes but our DVD player
clocked it at around 90. The Italian cut is supposed
to run 99. I don't really know what footage is
missing, nor do I care.)
is another budget DVD from Diamond, which specializes
in ultra-cheap public domain releases or outright
bootlegs (or so we've heard). But they must be legal
(right?) since they're stocked by e-merchant
Amazon.com and sold at retail outlets like Best
Buy. Anyway, as with the other Diamond DVDs (House
By the Cemetery, the House
on Haunted Hill/Last Man on Earth double feature
disc), extras are non-existent. Bizarrely, the credits
on the back on the keepcase state that the film
was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and written by
William Faulkner! The feature is divided into only
four long chapters. One — I hope unintentionally
— is cued to the sad, pitiful death of the monkey.
Picture quality of the letterboxed presentation
is surprisingly good for such a cheapie. Print damage
is minimal. The disc's mono audio track is far from
perfect, however; dialog in one scene (when the
party is stranded at the rapids) is virtually unintelligible.
But for less than five bucks the DVD is more or
less acceptable. Even gratis, the movie that comes
on it is not. (Note: Anchor Bay will release a fully-restored
version of this film on anamorphic DVD in January
2002, under its alternate title, Mountain
the Cannibal God.)
The remastered Anchor Bay version mentioned above
went OOP in 2007, but that same year an identical
edition was released by Blue Underground.