Cannibal Terror (1981) - The Big Chief

Cannibal Terror (1981) – Cannibal Terrible?


The late 70’s and early 80’s brought the world the spectacle of Mondo Cannibal horror. Most of these produced in Italy. Directed by Alain Deruelle, Cannibal Terror (1981) hails from France. Periodically, Malevolent Dark runs into French horror films from time to time. The film, The Iron Rose (1973) ranks highly on our all time list. Not to cast aspersions, but something in our gut tells us that Cannibal Terror may lack some of the panache of The Iron Rose, but the best part is finding out for ourselves. Let’s see how this stacks up against a mountain of spaghetti cannibal flicks.

Cannibal Terror (1981) - A hapless group of criminals try their hand at kidnapping
This bunch of hapless criminals try their hand at kidnapping

Cannibal Terror – Clearly Different in a Real Bad Way

Apparently a Cannibal Mondo film’s cultural heritage make a pretty big difference. For starters, the film could not be any slower if it tried. This film spends an inordinate amount of time trying to set the stage for a couple of cockamamie criminals. The dubbing is bad, even by early 80’s exploitation standards. Something that typically sets Italian horror apart from the competition is a profoundly interesting musical score. Check out Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1980) for a prime example of Riz Ortolani’s fantastic work. The is no comparison.

Rather than the deeply foreboding drone of Italian horror, Cannibal Terror uses silly calypso music and crappy synth-funk.

The plot goes a little something like this. A couple of two-bit crooks lament a string of recent failures. In order to get back in the game, they change their plans. They choose to kidnap the daughter of a millionaire tycoon. Where else would they take her to hide. That’s right, the cannibal infested rain forests of South America.

In a rash of poor decision making, our hapless criminals choose to rape the wife of their caretaker. Unfortunately for them, her husband can summon the power of cannibals with merely a whistle. From here, the film takes a familiar course, albeit poorly.

Cannibal Terror (1981) - The guy in the middle looks like he is at a Grand Funk Railroad concert
The guy in the middle looks like he is at a Grand Funk Railroad concert

Not Trying to be Racist… But…

If ever a detail exists that clearly exemplifies why the average Italian cannibal film outshines a French cannibal film, its the cannibals themselves. At Malevolent Dark, we reviewed both Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Cannibal Ferox (1980). In both pictures, the supposedly South American cannibals at least looked like actual South American tribesmen. Possibly Holocaust did it a bit better than Ferox, but at least both felt authentic. Not having seen a real South American native anywhere other than National Geographic, we do not claim to be experts on the matter.

However, we are pretty sure that South American native tribesmen aren’t chubby white guys. Seriously, this production couldn’t even be bothered to find semi-authentic actors that looked the part. Not to mention, if Deruelle insist on using white guys for the job, shouldn’t he at least make them shave their post-disco mutton chops?

The lack of authenticity goes as far as the location as well. No visible detail of the surrounding environment looks to be of authentic rain forest. Again, we may praise the Italian cannibal productions for at trying to create a legitimate backdrop.

Cannibal Terror (1981) - The Big Chief
The big Chief makes his appearance

Tacky Gore for a Tacky Movie

Lain Deruelle leverages a well-worn tactic in Italian cannibal cinema. He uses real animal entrails as a substitute for practical latex effects. In more than one section, pasty white boy cannibals are clearly evacuating the open carcass of a large sow of its innards. Here is the problem, Deruelle’s actors are clearly revolted by what they are doing and clearly are avoiding touching any of the entrails with their mouth.

Coming completely clean, we wouldn’t either! But, this is an obstacle that Italian Mondo Cannibal managed to negotiate. This revolting detail catapults the Italian use of real animal guts out of the realm of tacky and into the stratosphere. At least when watching an Italian cannibal film, we can all depend on being revolted at the site of a man pulling a wet liver to pieces with their teeth.

Cannibal Terror (1981) - Evacuating a pigs carcass
Evacuating a pig carcass

In Case You Couldn’t Tell…

We hated this movie. Cannibal Terror possesses no redeeming qualities at all. We feel compelled to wrap review up for fear of wasting too many words on this trash. Alain Deruelle’s film doesn’t even serve as quality fodder for side by side comparison with the superior Italian Mondo Cannibal. In a final smack-down, Cannibal Terror isn’t even suitable for entertainment on a pure schlock level. It’s just regrettably bad cinema. We watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Cannibal Terror (1981) - Cannibal Terrible? - Malevolent Dark
cannibal terror the big chief

Director: Allain Durelle

Date Created: 1970-01-01 00:33

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