Friday, June 26, 2015
"Cannibal Holocaust" VS "Cannibal Ferox": AKA I Hate Myself
Eli Roth's long anticipated, and much maligned, love letter to the cannibal film genre "The Green Inferno" is finally going to be released this coming September. A lot of people are pleased about this finally happening...but not so much because of the film itself per se. One thing about Eli Roth: he's always promising...but never quite reaches that level of excellence that we all want him to. Regardless of all that, that's not the point here, or even what this is about.
With "The Green Inferno" finally coming out, it looks like interest in the "cannibal film" subgenre of horror is about to be reignited. Now what is a cannibal film you may be asking yourself? Well kids, a cannibal film was a type of super sleazy horror film that was huge back in the 70s and 80s, before dying out because they just got so damn boring and predictable. These films usually always involved numerous similarities between each other as well: sexual violence, animal mistreatment, being made by Italians, and hokey-ass dubbing.
And just about all that is what made these pieces of garbage so fucking endearing. They're exploitation films pure and simple, and for their time, they were the shit. And speaking of shit, there was a shit ton of these fucking things. "Jungle Holocaust", "Last Cannibal World", and much more that I don't feel like looking up at the moment. However, out of all those films, there are two in particular that have managed to resonate throughout the years even as the cannibal film fizzled out: "Cannibal Holocaust" and "Cannibal Ferox". Both these films are infamous in the horror world, and for good reason...and it's not because they both featured actor Robert Kerman, better known as "R. Bolla", AKA the sporting goods store owner in the original "Debbie Does Dallas" that fucks Debbie eight ways from Sunday.
Released in 1980 and directed by Ruggero Deodato, "Cannibal Holocaust" was a film I had first heard about in my youth (thanks Phil Anselmo) but for a long time I had thought was an urban legend. It had been touted as "extreme" and all that, and this was when the internet was in its infancy and I was stupid in general and didn't know how to do something simple like use the internet as a research tool. Somehow, I managed to find a bootleg VHS copy of it and proceeded to watch it. At the time, my 16-year old mind didn't know how to handle it, which is perfectly fine, because a lot of audiences didn't know how to handle it either back in 1980 when this fucking thing was released. Deodato had to go to court to prove that the actors in the film were actually still alive and that he didn't go down into the jungle and make a fucking snuff movie. That's how powerful the savagery on display is in this film...or at least it was back then. Quite frankly the film hasn't aged all that well, and I'm sure I'll get called out here by "horror purists" (and I have before for this), but I can really do without all the on-screen animal death.
"Cannibal Ferox" was released in 1981 and directed by schlock-meister Umberto Lenzi. Touted as "the most violent film ever made", "Cannibal Ferox" doesn't disappoint in that department. Like "Cannibal Holocaust" before it, "Cannibal Ferox" is revolting, but for me personally, this film tops "Cannibal Holocaust" in the barf factor. Don't ask me why, maybe it's because of hooks going through nipples, but there's just always been something in general about this fucking movie that makes my stomach churn.
Analyzing the two films against each other finds a lot of similarities, mostly because at its core "Cannibal Ferox" is a quickly thrown together cash in on the then new infamy that "Cannibal Holocaust" was garnering. While both films offer up numerous instances of rape, torture, flesh-eating, penis mutilation, and animal slaughter, at the very least "Cannibal Holocaust" has a teenie-weenie little bit of social commentary to back itself up with. "Cannibal Ferox"...well, it doesn't, like at all. Now social commentary isn't a necessity in this type of film, or even in exploitation films and the horror genre in general, but it's that little curtain of social awareness that elevates "Holocaust" over "Ferox", at least for me.
"Cannibal Ferox", while providing some surprisingly amazing gore effects for its time, is just cruel for the sake of being cruel. Now as I said before, what else would you really expect in a movie of this type? That aside though, that little bit of social commentary that "Cannibal Holocaust" has still separates both films completely, at least for me anyway, with "Cannibal Holocaust" being the superior of the two. Now that may be like being the most popular kid in a boys only daycare that's run by priests, but you get the point.
Now to go a little out of character (I'm a fucking character?) I have to admit that I generally dislike these kind of films in general. I love the horror genre with all my heart (and all two and a half inches of my stubby Irish dong) and have a lot of love and admiration for the exploitation era of that time period, but watching these films for me wasn't an easy task, and really never has been either. But I am willing to suffer for my art, for I am an artist...if by artist you mean I go on the internet and talk about bullshit films involving cock chomping and what I assume was a shit load of cocaine being passed around behind the scenes.
Oh, and if it's one thing these films have taught me, it's that if I ever wind up stranded in the South American jungle, I'm blowing my brains out before anyone can eat my dick.