This book, by horror legend Lucifer Fulci, is a quick reference guide to the Italian Cannibal Boom, the films that may have inspired it, and to the movies that are a continued exploration into the world of the violent, gory and often criticized gut munching cannibal film.
From the Book
I like to share bits and pieces- no pun intended- of my work, if only to gather interest, etc. So, tonight, I share a bit of the intro and a single review.
If you like the Cannibal Movie subgenre, take a look! The book will be done around Spring 2014.
It was around the year 1988. I was living in Hollywood, California and attending the Musicians Institute and finding my way around the world of music and madness. While I had traveled from Michigan to California in hopes of making some kind of career in music, I always took my horror with me. Whether or not it was the old Deep Red and Gorezone magazines or just my box full of VHS splatter films, I was a gorehound and that was an obvious thing to anyone who knew me. Even the hardcore metal crowd found me somewhat strange, what, with all of the zombie shit I had bouncing around. I also had way too much knowledge about foreign films that nobody, just NOBODY that I knew cared about.
That is, with the exception of a few.
I had made friends with a man called Chas Balun. He was my mentor and in many ways, still is. I carry the torch for his love for horror, and there are many things that I learned from the man before his passing that I still apply to my own morbid creations. Long live Chas Balun! He was and forever shall be the new blood!
He was also an avid collector of endless horrors. Throughout the years, we traded anything and everything that we would find at random conventions or on the black market film circuit. You know, that thing we now call the internet or youtube. (!) He always had an extensive collection that far outdid mine, and I could trust him when I needed something new and vicious.
We had been talking one day about the grossest of the gross films out there, when he mentioned something called “Cannibal Holocaust.” He was honestly surprised that I had not even heard of it. It was the late 80’s and I had only ever seen something called “Make them Die Slowly.” It was also known as “Cannibal Ferox,” and I had only watched it once when my brother and I rented it from an old Radio Shack. I recalled that it was sick and twisted, but I think I had found much more favor in the film, “House by the Edge of the Park,” which we had rented the same night. To my enlightenment, Chas told me that “Cannibal Holocaust” was made by the same director as “House by the Edge of the Park.” I was off and running.
He told me that he would send it along in the mail, and I was stoked. What would this be? How could I have not ever heard of or seen the box for this landmark film at my local store where I rented so many other horror and/or exploitation classics of the era?
I found out, later on, just what the deal was with “Cannibal Holocaust.” It was banned, forbidden, contained actual footage of murder in the film, etc…simply put, I was NOT going to find it in a video store in 1988. It had such a reputation, that when I went asking film experts about the movie, they did not even want to speak to me about it.
The day I went into The Hollywood Book and Poster Store and asked owner and film historian Eric Caiden about the film, he simply said, “its all fake,” and then went about his business. I tried to mention what I had heard and he did not wanna talk any more about it. It might have just been his demeanor, or it could have been that I was an annoying, mullet haired turd, but I got the distinct idea that “Cannibal Holocaust” was not something most people found very interesting.
I became obsessed. I wanted to know each and every thing about this one particular film, and from there became entirely curious about other films that might be something like this. When I really, truly dug myself into this awesome subgenre of the horror film, I found that there was something truly horrifying that I discovered. It had a hold on me. I wanted to learn more.
Mind you, this is not an examination of the any other type of cannibal film except the films that are chock full of tribes of beastly men and women that have either remained undiscovered by modern society or forgotten about, left to a life where eating one another is par for the course. You get me? You will not be reading about Hannibal the cannibal or Dahmer here. You will also notice that I have not included anything about the backwoods cannibal clans. Sorry! No need for us to get into the meat of that topic, either. No Leatherface, no Wrong Turn, no need to tackle that subgenre here! Lets get lost in the jungle…or at least on a far off island…ya dig?
The Cannibal movies we will be discussing are the ones most commonly referred to when speaking of the lot that were made by a handful of Italian filmmakers in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I will be mentioning several others that had an important hand in forming what we know now to be the type of cannibal movie that we love to eat up! Ehh. Sorry.
I will, however, include some of the greatest of the sleazy and cheap movies that feature cannibalism, that either came out in the era of the great Italian Cannibal boom or deserved to. Just for fun. Yeah, just for good, gory measure.
Lets get something else out of the way, too. There are some films that one might think should be included in this book because of the suggestion of wild tribes in the films or perhaps because of another minute point of importance to the avid OCD collector. That is not what this book is about. We can feel free here to skip over the Tarzan movies of the 30’s and 40’s, films like “A Man Called Horse” and the episodes of Gilligan’s Island that featured primitives. We do not need to touch on any tribes seen in ANY version of “King Kong” or any actual or supposed tribes mentioned in National Geographic magazine.
We are here to celebrate the likes of Deodato and Lenzi, D’amato and Roth, among others. We are here for the splatter masters from the Green Inferno! Let us begin!
JUNGLE HOLOCAUST AKA CANNIBAL
Directed By Ruggero Deodato
One of the most interesting types of horror films for me is the true story…that something could actually happen in such ways of terror is truly intriguing. Such is the case with Ruggero Deodato’s precursor to his all time greatest cannibal movie ever, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.
JUNGLE HOLOCAUST AkA CANNIBAL, is by no means any slouch to the throne. In fact, it is a fine piece of horror/adventure film/cannibal movie magic in its own right.
I can still remember the absolute horror I felt when I first stuck that VHS into the VCR and pressed play. It was for rent in one of those big ass video boxes and I had no idea what I was in for. As far as I can remember, the first time I viewed it was when I was a teenager and my older brother and I rented it, but it may have been viewed late in the evening to keep the prying eyes and opinions of our parents away from the screening pleasures we were going to partake in. I probably fell asleep, because my first honest and complete recollection of the film was sometime after I had seen CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.
The story centers around a group of oil prospectors who are traveling to the island of Mindanao. Their plane has a less than perfect landing and damn, damn damages happen. During the time of its repair, Robert ( Massimo Foschi ) and Rolf ( Ivan Rassimov ) are looking about and find the abandoned camp of the original group of prospectors. Soon, one of their team goes missing and then their pilot is killed. Robert and Rolf become separated during a mishap on a wild river, and then later, Robert is captured by a group of cannibals.
They keep him hostage and torment him regularly. Once he realizes that he is going to become a featured attraction on their new menu, he escapes with the help of a cannibal babe ( Me Me Lai and her bad, fake boob job ) who he later decides that he should rape.
During a rather violent rainstorm, Robert and his new girlfriend find a safe haven in a cave. Low and behold, Rolf is hanging out, complete with gangrene in his leg. The three of them soon find their way back to the airfield, but before they can escape home free, the cannibals find them, attack and stab Rolf with a spear. In a sure fire act of disgust, Robert eats the liver of one of the cannibals that he has killed, which, for some reason, freaks them out long enough for him and Rolf to get away. His cannibal gal pal does not get away, however, and she is killed and eaten.
The pure joy that I find in this film is surely curious. It is not as gory or as violent as some of the more notable cannibal masterpieces, but it is surely one of the more creepy films in the subgenre. It exists in my little black heart, however, as one of my most favorites, probably because it was directed by the maestro of the gory and crowned king of all cannibal films, Ruggero Deodato.
Review: From Morpheus Tales (pg 23)
Straight to the point in the title, this is an overview of Italian Cannibal films primarily from the 11970’s and 1980’s with a few examples before and after those decades. Lucifer gives skeleton personnel and production data in advance of each film. He not only covers the usual suspects like Cannibal Ferrox and Cannibal Holocaust, but Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals (aka Trap Them and Eat Them)
As in previously reviewed works of Lucifer Fulci, the meat of the book is in the personal observations and reminiscences of discovering each film and his opinion on what worked and what did not in each. If you just want dry summaries of a pile of movies, you can go online and bore yourself. The passion for horror is shown here and invokes the spirit of Chas Balun in pulling no punches. The formatting and editing have definitely improved since the Chunkblowers book from last year, which serves to help focus on the materials rather than the oddities in presentation.
This Guide is very much a niche book in a niche genre. If you have zero interest in Italian cannibal films then this book shall not appeal to you unless you are a fan of the author. This slim volume is a companion to the extant cannibal filmographies and is recommended for the very distinct voice of the author.