Cannibal Terror, Terreur cannibale (1980)
Directed by: Alain Deruelle, Julio Pérez Tabernero, Olivier Mathot
Written by: H.L. Rostaine, Jess Franco, Julio Pérez Tabernero
Starring: Gérard Lemaire, Pamela Stanford, Silvia Solar
Cannibal Terror (AKA Terreur Cannibale) (1981)
First Released: 1981
Directors: Alain Deruelle, Olivier Mathot (uncredited), Julio Perez Tambernero (uncredited)
Current UK Status: Passed 18 uncut
Cannibal Terror (I use the word “terror” lightly) was first released in the UK In October 1981 by Modern Films. Down to the mere mention of the word ‘Cannibal’ in the title, it was deemed unfit for the public and removed as a Video Nasty in July 1983. In one of the fastest to become un-banned, Cannibal Terror was released from the Director of Public Prosecutions list in September 1985. It is doubtful this film became a collectable, and after two years of being banned, more than likely got released without hardly any notice at all. However, it was still cut, and the uncut version was finally passed by the BBFC in 2003. Just what was cut from Cannibal Terror is anybody’s guess.
Now, usually this would be my time to tell you a little about the director’s story, and how he or she came to direct a film banned as part of the Video Nasty era. Sadly, very little is known about Alain Deruelle and since the other two director’s are uncredited, there is no point in talking about them. I can only imagine they asked for their names to be removed once they realised what a complete pile of shit Cannibal Terror had become. From checking IMDB, all I can figure of Deruelle’s very small amount of films and short time in the industry is that: 1- he directed a number of soft porn films, and 2- Cannibal Terror killed his career.
Quite rightly too! Working my way through the Video Nasty’s list, I am bound to come across a few bad eggs, but that is to be expected and some of the more, shall we say, questionable films I have come across at least have something in them to make them likeable. Hell, some of the more rubbish films may even be forgivable, sadly though, there is no forgiving Cannibal Terror. This is without doubt the worst film I have come across yet on this list, and while I appreciate there will be more like this to come, it is gonna be hard to top this as an all round shit-fest. How this was ever banned is beyond me, I can appreciate that it was banned simply due to the word ‘cannibal’ in the title, but seriously, were these films actually watched before being banned? On the evidence of this, my guess is no, not all films were viewed, and some were simply removed from shelves thanks to their controversy seeking titles. Had this been called ‘A Kidnap in a Jungle’ it may even have passed as a PG! OK, well not really a PG, but you get the point I am aiming for here?
What went seriously and hideously wrong here is that it is not Italian, and it was the Italian’s who mastered the art of the Cannibal genre. Here we have a mixture of French and Spanish directors and producers, and the results are catastrophic. Cannibal Terror wants to be like its peers (Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox) so bad you can almost taste it. The film brings in all the elements that made those two films so perfect, spits them out and may as well have shit all over them. This is like every other cannibal film rolled into one, but without the suspense, the violence, the realism, the characters, the setting, the music or even the feckin cannibals themselves. Cannibal Terror ticks all the boxes that other films of the genre uses, but the makers just had absolutely no idea what to do with it. The films first mistake happens about a second into the film, as all of a sudden the credits role and we are man handled by a sudden assault of quite possibly the worst music to ever grace a ‘horror’ film. I can’t even begin to describe how bad it is: think of the cheesiest, most annoying kind of festival music you can think of, and you’re not even half way there. What makes matters worse is that someone clearly liked it because it returns later on in the film, returns to grate away at your tolerance levels, it gets inside your head, like a swarm of bees have just flown inside your brain “get out stupid bees, your giving me a headache!!!” Oh, sorry about that, but that’s how the music made me feel. God help me if I ever met the man who put that piece of ‘music’ together!
The film opens with a bizarre scene in a boat yard where two dodgy looking chaps are hanging around outside a boat. They look so dodgy I am surprised they weren’t arrested before getting the chance to actually attempt a break in of one of the more expensive boats. However, they attempt the break in and soon learn they could have simply just opened the door! The acting is atrocious, the camera work amateurish and there is the constant sound of the same bloody ships horn bellowing in the background, over and over. Annoying sounds seem to happen a lot in this film, later on the sound of what can only be described as a recording from a zoo featuring the sound of a duck plays out every time we enter the jungle, every time! I can’t even recall who all the characters are now, but the plot is simply this: those thieves from earlier are planning to kidnap a rich man’s daughter and hold her for ransom, but they must travel across Cannibal country to reach a safe house. That’s really it, and although it’s like the makers have put some effort in in terms of plot, it is incredibly basic, and the characters are instantly forgetful.
The little girl who is kidnapped sounds like she has been voiced by a grown man, her and her Mother’s phone conversations with their Dad are terribly directed, with barely a pause for the person on the other end of the phone to actually answer. Complaints aside, the film moves on and before the little girl is kidnapped, we must learn just what exactly cannibal country is, and our guide will show us. A woman who becomes a main part of the story is driving some people across country, the people may have actually been the kidnappers but I forget now, but anyway she warns them “this roads right on the edge of cannibal country. They’ll want you in their soup, but if you don’t stop, no sweat” And almost instantly after the warning she drops them off right in cannibal country as she takes her car around a different route. Anyway, her car breaks down, she heads off through cannibal country and along comes that blasted duck sound! The woman is in fact the daughter of the man who owns the house where the kidnappers hide out. The people who live in this house work with the cannibals, feeding them now and again. Later on one of the kidnappers rapes the daughter, he is then tied to a tree and left as cannibal feed while the rest of the group run off into the jungle with the house owners on their tails.
When we finally get to meet the cannibals the film takes an almighty plunge from a bad film to one of the worst ever made. These cannibals do not appear scary, and certainly don’t look like cannibals. They are white, with well groomed beards and perfect hairstyles, they look like a bunch of grown men pissed out of their minds who simply have no idea what they are doing. Someone decided to paint them, while someone else told them to dance around for a bit, maybe jump up and down now and again, and for god’s sake don’t laugh or look at the camera. Clearly not all these instructions were met, because these so-called cannibals do laugh, they do look at the camera, and they look so uncomfortable you actually feel sorry for them. Each one has a pleading face which says “tell me what to do please, I don’t really know what I am doing here” Ha, it gets worse, we get a long shot where the camera follows a line of cannibals, looking at each one close up, and you can tell these poor chaps are holding in the laughter as if their life depended on it, one can’t even look at the camera. Finally, when one attempts to speak cannibal gibberish you suddenly realise that all hope it lost. You should see these poor buggers try to make out that they are eating human insides as well, they all look petrified of it, not hungry.
Things get even worse, there are shots of animals, much like the Italian cannibals films did, but here they just feel as if someone was trying too hard to be like its peers. There is a scene where the cannibals are called out to eat the captured rapist, and the music which plays is almost as bad as the opening piece of crap. The annoying duck keeps on quacking all the way through the jungle, and even pops up during the comical rape scene. The woman is tied to a tree while the man has his way, and the duck quacks, and then we cut away to a so-called romantic sex scene somewhere else, which is just as bizarre as these guys have a parrot watching them! When the Father finds his daughter raped, in a scene that should be touching, you will sadly find yourself laughing again as the old fart tries to pick her up, twice, and fails. What makes it funnier is he lets out a yelp of pain as he does it.
Everything is bad here, and the final chase through the jungle is hilarious, as white men pretending to be cannibals throw spears. It is funny as Hell, and in all fairness, if you go into Cannibal Terror with the intention of having a good laugh, then you just might enjoy it. The editing is terrible, the dialogue laughable, and the sound often distorts. Everything looks terribly staged, and in our second meeting with the cannibal village they appear to have sobered up from alcohol and now it seems like the director has fed them all LSD as they walk around wide eyed and confused. This is hilarious stuff!
However, there are a few minor good things here. Some of the camera work is actually pretty good, like a creepy doll in a tree and an exceptional shot of a woman dancing in the smoke of a fire. It is clear the director does have talent, but sadly the need to be like the Italian classics clearly clouded the judgement of everyone involved here. As for the violence, where there are only really two scenes of note which involve the cannibals, and granted it is pretty graphic stuff with real insides used. The carcasses are ripped apart, but you never actually see anything eaten. It is held up to the mouths of the cannibals as the ‘actors’ hold it there and look around waiting for someone to say “cut”.
Cannibal Terror is a very poor film, and it is very confusing as to why it was banned in the first place. As I said before, it was simply down to the use of the word Cannibal, and the banning sadly gave the film notoriety, something which it didn’t deserve but will have no doubt benefitted from. This is a Video Nasty to avoid!
Should Cannibal Terror have been part of the Video Nasty’s list? Not a chance, what the Hell were they thinking including this!