Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 12th, 2007
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1980
Director: Jess Franco
Writer: Jess Franco
Cast: Al Cliver, Sabrina Siani, Lina Romay, Robert Foster, Shirley Knight, Olivier Mathot
DVD released: November 13th, 2007
Approximate running time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Professor Taylor (Al Cliver) against his best judgment takes his wife and daughter and his expedition into the remote Amazon jungles. While in the jungle one evening a tribe of cannibals ambush Professor Taylor’s boat where they eat his wife and take him back to the rest of the tribe for an afternoon snack. The tribe of Cannibal’s become preoccupied when they discover Professor Taylor’s daughter Lana and during the chaos of her arrival Taylor minus one arm narrowly escapes with his life. Years later after seeking psychiatric help Taylor feels well enough to make a second trip into the Amazon to rescue the daughter he left behind.
Through the years Cannibals has gone through a series of different and yet oddly similar names like Barbarian Goddess, Mondo Cannibale and White Cannibal Queen. The film was made during the big Italian Cannibal genre boom of the early 1980’s when French producer Marius Lesoeur approached exploitation guru Jess Franco about putting his own spin on this latest cinema fad.
The film features in the lead role Al Cliver who most Euro-Cult will recognize from Lucio Fulci’s Zombie 2. Cliver and Franco would team up once again after Cannibals with the 1980 film The Devil Hunter. I may be in the minority but I have never cared for Al Cliver as an actor and he does nothing extraordinary in Cannibals outside of filling space. Also the FX on this one are so cheap that in many scenes you can see Al Cliver’s arm which was cut off early on in the film. The severed arm is not hidden very well and is often exposed.
The cannibals in this film are multinational as we not only have your typical dark skin cannibals there are also Latino and pale white flesh looking cannibals and I thought I saw but just for a moment an Asian cannibal. The cannibals are never scary and when they eat these moments are drawn out to pad the film. One of the films few assets is actress Sabrina Siani who dresses in skimpy native like clothing. My favorite performance in the film is that of Lina Romay as Ana a psychiatrist who helps Professor Taylor recover. I really enjoyed seeing Romay in a more acting and less sexual role then she is normally cast.
This film is one of the most uninspired that I have seen in while from Jess Franco and I was totally caught off guard how tame and restrained he made the cannibals. Ultimately is you have climbed to the top of the cannibal mountain with films like Cannibal Ferrox or Cannibal Holocaust then a film like Cannibals might be to tame and uneventful for you.
Various films stocks where used for this film so the quality of the transfer fluctuates from looking above average to superb and outside of some minor instances of edge enhancement I couldn’t image this film looking much better then it does via Blue Underground’s DVD release.
The audio mix is clean and free of any audio defects. Too bad the mix is for one of the worst dubbed audio tracks you will ever have the pleasure to sit through.
Extras for this release include the films French Trailer and a twenty minute interview with Jess Franco. The Franco interview is always a welcome addition and in this case it is even more entertaining then the main feature. Blue Underground gives Cannibals is best DVD release to date.