Written by: George Pacheco on November 12th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, July 13th, 2005 (Video)
Director: Bruno Mattei (as Martin Miller)
Writer: Bruno Mattei, Giovanni Paolucci
Cast: Cindy Matic, Claudio Morales, Ted Rusoff (dubbing)
DVD Release Date: November 11th, 2014
Approximate Running Time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Intervision / Severin Films
Region Encoding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
God bless writer/director Bruno Mattei for keeping the spirit of independent Italian filmmaking alive during the twilight years of his career.
In the Land of the Cannibals is a blatant retread of nearly every conceivable theme from Ruggero Deodato’s classic Cannibal Holocaust-sometimes shot for shot-spliced with a hemmed in (and ham-fisted) take on John McTiernan’s Predator…right down to some stolen, paraphrased dialog!
Indeed, we a’int got time ta bleed as we journey here with Mattei-directing under a pseudonym of Martin Miller-as he delivers a supremely fun and over-the-top shoot ’em up adventure, following the exploits of a crack commando team, on the hunt for a kidnapped senator’s daughter through the uncompromising jungles of The Philippines…masquerading as the sweltering Amazon.
In the Land of the Cannibals was shot on video by Mattei and his go-to producer during this time, Giovanni Paulucci, giving the film a weird meta-effect of being extremely sharp and detailed looking, yet surreally superficial at the same time. Nearly all of Mattei’s late period offerings utilized this cheap-but-effective approach, and to be honest, it doesn’t take too long to get used to how the whole affair looks, especially when Bruno ensures that Cannibals is jam packed with plenty of violent gun play and messy cannibal activity.
There’s a bit of stock footage utilized here and there to offset the film’s obviously limited budget, but the cast and crew play it straight for the most part, doing their best to deliver the best film they can with without resorting to snark or camp. This serious-as-a-heart-attack approach was appreciated by yours truly, and made it quite easy to ride along with these “shoot first, ask questions later” commandos as they re-stage scenes from Holocaust and call it a new movie. The film doesn’t hit Predator territory until the group finally rescue said senator’s daughter-played by Balkan model/actress Cindy Matic, who provides the only sex appeal in what is otherwise a gun and sausage fest-after which the movie’s final act showcases their attempt to make an escape through the jungle hell to a waiting helicopter rescue, before the chasing cannibals are able to pick them off, one by one….
In the Land of the Cannibals is one hell of a fun flick, and it looks great here on this Intervision DVD. The film was previously available as an expensive grey market DVD under its better known title Land of Death, while Japan had the unfortunate re-titling of Cannibal Holocaust 3: Cannibal vs Commando to contend with, offering either further confusion! What’s not confusing is this film’s free-wheeling spirit, which showcase’s Mattei’s indomitable will to make fucking movies, regardless of budget, stigma or trends.
As such, it would’ve been great to have had some behind the scenes footage or interviews with the cast of unknowns and also-rans here on In the Land of the Cannibals, but alas, this Intervision DVD only arrives armed with the theatrical trailer as an extra, making this a bare bones disc for a righteous, recommended movie.