Thursday, July 23, 2015

CANNIBAL FEROX (1981) Blu-Ray from Grindhouse Releasing

The blu-ray comes packaged in a standard, clear two-disc case housed in a beautiful cardboard slipcover. Also included, is the film's score on CD in a cardboard case. There's also a full-color booklet with two essays from Bill Landis and Eli Roth.

Also well known as "Make Them Die Slowly," Cannibal Ferox follows a group of young Americans, determined to prove that the act of cannibalism is just a myth, into the jungle, where they bump into a couple of fellow Americans on the run from a very real cannibal tribe out for revenge. It's revealed that the sadistic Mike (played by Giovanni Lombardo Radice, no stranger to cannibal films or the films of director Umberto Lenzi) has used the natives to help him mine for jewels. When they come up short, Mike tortures and abuses the members of this small tribe. Naturally, the natives get fed up with this cruel treatment and the violent revenge and cannibalism begins.

Directed by Umberto Lenzi, who almost ten years prior jumpstarted the cannibal cycle of Italian horror films with Man from Deep River, churns out one of the last films of this particular cycle. At times, it's just as horrendous and vile as the Deodato film (Cannibal Holocaust, perhaps the most well known of this genre), but does not possess the sense of realism that makes that film so effective and visceral. It mostly seems like shock for shock's sake, which I guess can be said for all the cannibal films of this period.

The main event on the special features end is the eighty-five minute documentary, "Eaten Alive! The Rise and Fall of the Italian Cannibal Film." The documentary takes a look at all of the highlights of the cannibal subgenre and features onscreen interviews with Umberto Lenzi, Ruggero Deodato, Sergio Martino, and a number of actors from the various films, as well as academics, authors, and experts of the genre. A highlight of the documentary is actress Me Me Lai, who starred in a few of these films. She has a few great stories to tell from the sets and locations of these films.

Also included is a feature commentary with director Umberto Lenzi and actor Giovanni Lombardo Rabice. It can be difficult to understand Lenzi's accent at times, but Rabice is a joy to listen to. "What can I say about this movie...I hated it!"

Next up are a couple of short deleted scenes. The disc also offers the ability to play the film with these scenes added back in.

Rounding out the first disc of this amazing set are a number of trailers and a five minute featurette of the "Hollywood Premiere." This is a neat little featurette with fan interviews and general shennanigans surrounding a screening of the film in 1997.

The second blu ray disc of the set houses numerous previews for upcoming Grindhouse Releasing titles, still galleries, credits, and a section simply titled "Interviews." There is tons of good stuff in this section.

First, a 19 minute interview with director Umberto Lenzi.

Second, a fantastic 50 minute interview with actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice (Mike, in Cannibal Ferox) entitled "The Many Lives and Deaths of Gionvanni Lombardo Radice." Not only does the actor discuss his role in Cannibal Ferox, he talks about his experiences on many films throughout his career.

Next, a 25 minute interview with actress Zora Nerova (Pat in Cannibal Ferox) about her experiences on the film.

Next up is "Danilo Mattei's Amazon Adventure," a 20 minute interview with the actor.

Perhaps the most fascinating interview on the disc is "They Call Him Bombadore" with special effects master Gino De Rossi.

Finishing up the disc is a short interview with Lenzi from 1998.

This set is a MUST BUY for all genre fans. The feature length documentary on Italian cannibal films is worth the price alone. Grindhouse Releasing does an amazing job with all of their releases, and this one is no exception. Even if you're not a big fan of the cannibal films (personally, I am not), it's still a must have for your collection.

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