Review Date: November 22, 1999
Released by: Sazuma
Release date: 1999
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 1.66:1 | 16x9: Yes
Cannibal Ferox is a film that has been banned in over 31 countries. Interestingly enough, that is used as the tagline for the film - "banned in over 31 countries". Watching the film, it's easy to see why this is. Here we take a look at the Umberto Lenzi written and directed film, Cannibal Ferox.
Anthropologist Gloria Davis (Lorraine De Selle) is heading off to the Amazon jungle where she hopes to disprove the myth that cannibalism is an organized practice in some societies of the world. Accompanying her on the trip is her brother Rudy (Brian Redford) and friend Pat (Zora Kerova).
During their drive through the jungle their jeep gets stuck in the mud and the engine is blown when they try to get out. They abandon the jeep and move forward into the jungle on foot. During their hike they come across two injured men named Mike (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) and Joe (Venantino Venantini). They claim to have been taken prisoner by some native cannibals and tell how a third member from their group was tortured and eaten. They agree the best move for all of them is to make their way towards the river to try and get back to the mainland. Along the way they stop at the village the two men say they were held captive in. The village appears to be abandoned except for some of the older villagers. They must stay at the village for the time being because Joe is sick and dying.
Soon the three travelers learn the true story of what happened to the two injured men. Joe tells them the complete story of how Mike was the one to torture and kill a number of villagers in an attempt to find treasure. Soon after, Joe dies and they all attempt to flee the village but are captured when the younger natives return from the jungle. They are taken prisoner where they first torture Mike, the one who was first to torture them, by cutting off his penis and EATING IT. The others soon come to the realization that they are next and must find a way to escape their imprisonment and get back to the mainland before it's too late.
A very disturbing film. The graphic violence of people eating human flesh just doesn't do anything for me. I'm definitely not a fan of cannibal movies. While I love Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that film doesn't actually show people eating flesh, it relies more on the fact that you know that these people are going to be eaten, but it doesn't resort to showing you. Cannibal Ferox on the other hand shows you and shows you quite a bit of flesh being eaten. While I may normally be able to stomach this, seeing someone's penis being cut off and eaten is just too much. To top it all off the film also had excessive scenes of animal cruelty. Given that I'm not a vegetarian it may be somewhat hypocritical to complain of this too much, but to put it on a film for "entertainment value" is unjustified. If this movie is going to please anyone I suspect it'll be the die-hard gore fans out there. There's certainly lots of violence and blood to fill your needs. If you think you can stomach some of the scenes I described then give this film a try.
As far as the story itself goes there isn't much here. There's a small side story that takes black when the film cuts back to New York where we learn the story of the two injured men and why they went out to the Amazon jungle. The rest of the film is mainly the travelers trying to make their way out of the jungle, getting captured and then tortured. I think most people going into this film don't expect too much of a plot.
Cannibal Ferox is presented in its original theatrical ratio of 1.66:1 and is 16:9 enhanced for widescreen TVs. I must say I'm a bit confused on the aspect ratio on the DVD. A normal 1.66:1 ratio should produce small black bars on the top and bottom of the screen but that wasn't the case here. The image took up the entire screen on my 32" 4:3 TV. I can think of two possibilities as to why this is happening - 1) the transfer is actually P&S, or 2) my DVD player wasn't downcoverting to 1.66:1 properly and the image was actually playing in anamorphic 16:9 mode. Because the ratio is 1.66:1, which is practically full screen, I can't really tell if it's running in 16:9 mode. The image doesn't appear to be stretched at all but at 1.66:1 it's difficult to see that for sure. I'll check with Sazuma to get some more information on this and I'll update the review accordingly.
There's been a major problem discovered in the Cannibal Ferox DVD! My initial suspicion of the disc possibly being "stuck" in anamorphic mode has been confirmed. Here is is straight from Sazuma:
PLEASE NOTE: There was a problem with the Initial Run of the Discs. In fact the DVD was encoded in the wrong Aspect Ratio and unless you have a Widescreen TV or a TV that can switch to Widescreen you will have the false Aspect Ratio. We are currently repressing the Discs so if you want your copy to be replaced please return the DISC ONLY! including a copy of the Invoice to us and we will replace it free of charge. The repress will be finished around Dec. 20th! We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience!!!
As the above states Sazuma is currently repressing the disc and anyone who received the incorrect disc can exchange it (make sure you follow the instructions above). The new disc is scheduled to arrive at Sazuma on December 20, 1999. Anyone who has placed their order recently or at any point in the future will get the correct disc (unless your order has already shipped before the problem was discovered).
Sound in Cannibal Ferox is presented in Dolby Digital Mono. Music and dialogue were clear and audible throughout the film; no problems were heard.
Not much on this DVD in terms of extras. A 16 page illustrated booklet with complete Umberto Lenzi biography and filmography is included with the DVD. Also found in the booklet are numerous stills from the film and poster shots from other Lenzi films. Also included are theatrical trailers for Cannibal Ferox and Tenebre. The laserdisc release of Cannibal Ferox had commentary on it and it would've been nice of Sazuma could've included that on the DVD.
Even with the image quality complaints this DVD seems to be one of the best releases you can get for this film. Rumor is that Grindhouse will be releasing this on DVD sometime in 2000, so we can hope that the transfer is a little cleaner then. For now, however, I think any fans of the film will enjoy this DVD release from Sazuma. If you can justify the $29.95 price tag then give this disc a spin - it's region free so anyone anywhere can play it. For those who haven't seen this film make sure you haven't eaten anything for at least a few hours prior to watching this.
Movie - D+
Image Quality - C+
Sound - B+
Supplements - C
- Running time - 1 hour 33 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- Dolby Digital Mono sound
- Dutch, English, Finnish, German and Swedish subtitles
- 16 page illustrated booklet with complete Umberto Lenzi biography and filmography and rare stills in high quality printing
- Theatrical trailers to Cannibal Ferox and Tenebre