Cannibal Ferox AKA Make Them Die Slowly AKA Woman From Deep River (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Shameless Filmed Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (19th July 2018).
The Film

THE MOST VIOLENT FILM EVER MADE … BANNED IN 31 COUNTRIES!
A decade on from starting the cannibal genre, director Umberto Lenzi has the final word, pushing the vomit envelope beyond the sick with his utterly nasty, nihilistic apotheosis that is CANNIBAL FEROX. So unredeemable that its own makers denounced it as barbaric..!
An academic, Gloria (Lorraine De Selle), journeys to the Amazon jungle where things go awry when her party encounters sadistic druggy villain Mike (Giovanni Lombardo Radice aka John Morghen), as the travellers venture further into the heart of darkness, they soon discover what it means to be the hunted prey.
CANNIBAL FEROX aka ‘Make Them Die Slowly‘, topped the official Video Nasty list for its raw graphic scenes of torture, mutilations, murder and cannibalism. This new 2K restoration additionally features new grading which revives, for the 1st time, the original edgy look of the 16mm film stock it was shot on – finally presenting the film as it was first created by director Umberto Lenzi, on location in the Amazonian green inferno.
Includes BARF – approved vomit bag inside!

Video

The Italian cannibal film is something of an acquired taste. They came out of the popularity of two films, the first being Mondo Cane (1962), the first of the Shockumentaries. That is to say, a series of films that showed the world how horrible it all was by bringing in real footage of atrocities and odd cultural behaviour from around the world with as much sex and violence emphasised.

The second big influence was A Man Called Horse (1970) which was infamous for having it’s leading man Richard Harris hung up by his chest suspended on hooks. This second influence bagat The Man from Deep River (1972) directed by Umberto Lenzi, which was the first explicitly violent cannibal film of the cycle.

After this, Last Cannibal World (1977), The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978) and Cannibal Holocaust (1979) followed. Lenzi would return with the double whammy of Eaten Alive (1980) and the film under discussion here Cannibal Ferox (1981).

All of the films in the cycle, like the Shockumentaries before them featured scenes of violence being committed on animals and these scenes were usually cut by the BBFC (The British Board of Film Classification). Shameless’ new BD of Ferox is no different with the following changes having been made (curtesy of www.movie-censorship.com:

Scenes remaining intact:

(1.) The shot of the iguana crossing the road; the Jeep the three are driving in swerves off road to avoid hitting it and Pat (Zora Kerova) nearly drops the coati which almost gets under the wheels.
(2.) The scene where the natives capture, slaughter and eat a giant turtle.
(3.) The scene where the natives capture, slaughter and eat a small crocodile.

Scenes partially cut:

(4.) When the anaconda attacks the coati, the animal’s capture and death are gone.
(5.) When the jaguar attacks the monkey, the moments where the little creature is killed are gone.
(6.) The pig scene.

Completely cut:

(7.) The boa constrictor vs. iguana fight with the iguana winning.

Some substitutions have been made to maintain the running time.

This transfer seems to be using a different restoration than the one used by the Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray available in the USA. The American disc has a more natural colour scheme with a fabulous fine grain field typical of a well restored, well encoded 16mm image.

The Shameless disc under analysis here was on first inspection very agreeable indeed with some visible grain a reasonable amount of detail considering the 16mm source. Colour values seemed to be fine and black levels were deep and rich albeit with evidence of crush here and there (same with the Grindhouse disc). Contrast is also at a perfect level allowing detail and grain to come through.

However, when compared to the Grindhouse side by side, it’s obvious that some kind of compression has caused the grain to be far less defined leaving the image softer. This could be down to an indifferent encode, less space devoted to the film or some digital manipulation like DNR being applied at some point.

Shameless make a point - in a text card that plays before the film - to state that they’ve left the image untouched as regards grain reduction. In motion this does look more than acceptable given the rough methods used to shoot the film and the naturally lower resolution 16mm image.

As to the encode; I could not see any major issues with it but it’s not up to the job on the US disc. The other point to note is that this restoration has a greenish overall colour bias when compared side by side with the Grindhouse disc. It’s just a different look and as to which is preferable comes down to personal taste. I think the more naturalistic look of the Grindhouse has the edge on this score as well.

That all said, this is still a decent disc and for my money, any reduction to the scenes of animal cruelty can only be a good thing. Personally, I’d have liked Shameless to remove every last second of the reprehensible material but they’ve managed to pass some of it through the BBFC as they also did on their recent Blu-ray of The Mountain of the Cannibal God.

Overall, this is a recommended disc and despite the fact I have the Grindhouse 2-disc set, I shall be watching the Shameless transfer due to it lacking as much of the egregious animal violence.

1080/24p / MPEG-4 AVC / 1.85:1 / 92:54

Audio

English LPCM 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: None

Solid, robust mono track that delivers the goods well. Obviously being a dub track from 1981 it won’t be up the the standard of a contemporaneous, production sound track from Hollywood. But, it has decent high end and no major distortions. English was THE language spoken on set and as such this is the definitive listen.

The lack of subtitles is however a big no-no for me; the listening impaired like films too and should always be catered for. It’s important to mention that there are English subs provided for the brief moments of Spanish language spoken by locals in the film.

Extras

“A Taste of the Jungle” featurette (21:49)

Umberto Lenzi is on fine form giving one of his very last interviews before his sad death last year. He tackles all the usual subjects related to this film, the hard shoot, the animal violence, his problematic relationship with Giovanni Lobardo Radice and is as charismatic and as wily as he always seemed to be. A smart guy and a great raconteur; his presence is sorely missed.

“Hell in the Jungle: Giovanni Lombardo Radice ‘Mike Logan’” featurette (33:16)

The great “John Morghen”; infamous as THE whipping boy of Italian genre cinema in that he was guaranteed to have a nasty end in most of the films in which he appeared. He appears sporting a beard and a half! We get all the usual anecdotes trotted out before, only given a more melancholic spin this time. It’s well known he didn’t get on with Lenzi and hated the experience of making the film and the film itself. It’s the only one of his many movies he regrets making.

“Cannibal Ferox: 2K ProRes 4444, Material: Neg 16mm, No Colour Collection, No Restoration - Comparison with Final Restored Version” featurette (3:30)

Short piece showing how much the film has been restored with plenty of before and after shots.

Lenzi Photo Gallery (11 images)

OK, if limited gallery of promotional material about the late director.

Startup Trailer:
- Play All (2:44)
- Cannibal Holocaust (1:04)
- The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1:40)


Trailers for two other titles available in the JK from Shameless Films.

Reversible cover

Choice of two artworks.

BARF: Vomit Bag

Not sent for review, but a gimmick vomit bag is included should you feel the need to avail yourself of it’s services during the course of the film.

Overall

A classic “Video Nasty” gets the HD treatment for the first time in the UK. It’s also less cut than it has been in the past. Image quality is decent enough but inferior to the US disc, but as this is a rough looking film and always has been I only really noticed when I compared the images side by side, which most of you who buy this will not bother to do. It looks great in motion on my 58” 4K TV from a distance of ten feet. Blown up onto big projection systems it may not fare as well, but the vast majority of fans willing to accept the censoring will find this impressive.

The price is right and the extras - although no where near as extensive or as comprehensive as the 2-disc US release - are choice. I would recommend this disc to real fans who already own the US disc as it’s extras are worth the price by themselves. More casual fans who don’t mind the censorship will be more than happy with this Shameless release.

The Film: C+ Video: B Audio: A Extras: B+ Overall: B

 


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