Sunday, March 8

A Classic in Retro: Make Them Die Slowly (1981)


A.K.A. Cannibal ferox
Directed by Umberto Lenzi
93 Minutes (uncut) / Thriller Video / Cropped from 2.35:1 to full screen

Awww yes, the undisputed king of awful cannibal flicks. A film so infamous even Elvira refused to host/present it for this Thriller Video edition. The gang's all here, the whore with the yellow headband; the "researcher" thrown in for the illusion of dramatic weight; the dude wearing the Oshkosh bandanna as a fashion statement; the wounded liability; and a coked up Giovanni Lombardo Radice with a sadistic streak and no balls...literally. Not to mention the "cannibals" wielding dangerous sticks and angling for that $10 payday.

"damn jaywalking iguana!"

Let's go kill some fuckin' animals and rape natives. Hells yes. Better yet on the animal front, they'd sure make great scene transitions, right? So let's do it! That'll break up the ass backward smack exposition in New York with Robert Kerman of Holocaust-fame earning change to most likely prowl the stripteases by night. How 'bout a score that swerves wildly from leisurely to ominous within the confines of a porno wall of sound? It's nearly impossible to apply logic here.

"...ate HIS GENITALS!"

The film is exploitation eating itself, taking the prior year's Cannibal Holocaust and tearing away any shred of positive attributes. The plaster Lenzi applies to fill in these cracks is purely abhorrent hate, smut, and senseless violence directed towards all life on planet Earth. Aim high, Gore Force. Though I guess that's what this era in Italian filmmaking specialized in. The industry not only riffed off of whatever American trend was popular, but also broke apart the quality work found within itself. Almost like the bottom-of-the-barrel directors and writers kept distilling down higher art of their own pasta-preferring brethren in the hopes of picking shards of thematic gold from the what's left with their faux-bloodstained fingertips.

"Let's sing!"

So I guess I can't hate the film. Not only was Lenzi just doing what he does, but he's batshit crazy...whom can really blame him? He might hit me with his cane. If he wants to pull up his britches and drag a bunch of starving artists into the Green Inferno to splash karo syrup around and murder natural beauty, so be it. Go crazy with your bad selves and that's exactly what they did. It's terrible, mortally reprehensible, and entertaining as all hell. Just never watch it with anyone you truly care about...and take a shower afterward. That's right. Lock the doors, get buck naked, fry up some bacon, and drink plenty of water with remote-in-buttocks. I'm not kidding.

"...seeking release for strange new feelings."

Now on to Thriller's 1984 VHS. It's a towering, hard-earned monument to the height of horror rentals featuring perhaps the greatest art to ever grace a big box. Sadly, I myself only have the actual cassette with no big box fun at this point...but someday. Fully uncut, that's right, with all the penis and breast-rippin' your mental wellness cannot handle. Like Ving Rhames in DotD '04, Thriller said "Fuck y'all" to prude parents and sweaty-palmed video shop owners across America. The gore sequences are even laden with scratches and jumpy splices. This is glory. Strangely, the cropping from scope is only infrequently noticeable. A true testament to Lenzi's skill in barely utilizing any of the frame. The color is rich and the sound isn't much to write home about.

Own it here or on DVD and don't take questions.

Film: 7.5/10
VHS Picture: 7/10
VHS Sound: 5/10

2 comments:

dragonmanes said...

I have NEVER been a fan of Cannibal Ferox, and you have finally been able to capture all of my complaints in brilliant detail. I really dont understand how there is even a debate over whether Apocalypse, Ferox, or Holocaust are the superior film, it boggles the mind!

Sehnzeleid said...

Thanks! Though I wouldn't call it brilliant. Haha, I was a bit drunk and reeling from a lack of sleep when I wrote it.

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