Cannibal Ferox

As a teenager, I decided that I would never watch exploitation films that featured animal cruelty.  I got into many arguments on message boards about this subject, and I never encountered justifiable reasons to maim an innocent creature for the purposes of entertainment.  I still feel this way.  So why did I watch Umberto Lenzi's Cannibal Ferox?  It's complicated.  And simple, really.  These critters are dead whether I watch the movie or not.  Would they give a fuck?  Also, it's interesting review material.  I know so much about 1980's Cannibal Holocaust, I feel like I've already seen it (between you and me, I've seen portions of it...don't tell the others reading).  This is a different animal.  Poor choice of words?

Ferox came out in 1981, and today, it's perceived as a second-tier sandbag.  I don't know of one gorehound who prefers it to Holocaust.  Yet!  It's still regarded with cursory affection.  What makes these anthropophagic dailies stand out in the crowded "guts in a jungle" sub-subgenre?  In my opinion, not much.  We follow a few anthropologists to South America to study the natives.  In addition to the natives, they happen upon a covey of drug pushers mining resources, if you know what I mean.  The lead dealer is named Mike.  He's a fucking asshole.  If you're familiar with cannibal flicks at all, you know where the plot is going.  Who are the real savages?  Isn't that question thought-provoking?

I know that I viewed Ferox, but it didn't leave a dent in my headspace.  Even in the thick of the film, I sensed a disconnect.  Nothing reached me.  I didn't care about the characters, and the nondescript performances didn't help matters.  The actors were not people; they were just flesh props.  Mercifully, said flesh is ripped, gashed, and lacerated in key scenes.  I didn't get mileage out of the human bloodshed, but maybe that's because it was projected amidst animal bloodshed and presented in the same fashion.  Grisly though it may be (breast impalement...ouch), I would have "enjoyed" the gratuitous violence in any other Italian shocker.  Yes, the quotation marks are necessary.

I'm down with chunks of Lenzi's filmography.  He sounds a tad scuzzy, but he did direct Nightmare City.  Pros and cons, y'know?  I'm not proficient at holding grudges.  I'm angling to cover a couple of reels that he lensed, and as far as I know, they are bereft of badger butchery or hedgehog hecatombs.  See, that alliteration was as useless as the bulk of Cannibal Ferox.  For those wondering, I am awarding two whole Z'Dars for the convincing special effects and the alternate title of Make Them Die Slowly.  The fuck is a ferox?  It's not in the dictionary.  Boy, I'm really mad now!


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