Written by: Giuseppe Rijitano on June 29th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1978
Director: Joe D’Amato
Writers: Roberto Gandus (screenplay), Renzo Maietto (adaptation)
Cast: Melissa Chimenti, Sirpa Lane, Maurice Poli
DVD released: June 28th, 2010
Approximate running time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono Italian
DVD Release: Shameless Films
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99
As the film opens we are treated to a scene of sweaty seaside lovemaking on an unnamed Caribbean island as a couple in a hut by the beach get experimental with a papaya. An awkward little fumble that culminates in the dusky woman biting the penis off her lover then setting fire to his hut. Ironically this hungry little minx’s name is also Papaya (Melissa Chimenti). While hitching, Papaya then makes the acquaintance of intrepid journalist Sara (Sirpa Lane) and her swarthy geologist pal Vincent (Maurice Poli) both of whom she invites to a secret voodoo ceremony in her village. A shindig which involves ceremonial pig gutting and a blood sacrifice, unfortunately Sara and Vincent have been drugged so rather than running for their lives they are forced to join in as the locals get all uninhibited and start dancing around naked. When they do eventually wake up they find themselves in another village where Vincent will be held in thrall by Papaya’s intoxicating naughtiness and Sara will just straight be held as a prisoner. But what exactly do these natives want? Could it have something to do with the proposed nuclear power plant that will soon be built on their island paradise? And more importantly will Sara and Papaya hook up by the end of the film?
A schizophrenic little slice of D’Amato euro sleaze, but that’s nothing new. Not a cannibal film or a horror that’s for sure. More a stylishly shot sun-drenched 70’s sexploitation classic. It’s a lesbian love story masquerading as a political Eco thriller disguised as a cannibal exploitation flick. The first half of the film is essentially a thriller-like runaround in which Vincent and Sara are drawn into Papaya’s world of ritualistic voodoo only to discover in the movie’s second half that she’s part of a right-on, fight the powers that be, anti-nuclear group of islanders that are trying to prevent the modernization of their land. Which makes Papaya’s cock-munching antics all the more sinister really. As always D’Amato delivers the sleaze in good measure with endless lengthy and languorous shots of Papaya getting it on with, well, just about everyone. It’s to D’Amato’s credit as a cinematographer though that despite it’s pulp content the film looks great and is never less than entertaining. As for the plot and characters; they almost seems incidental to the whole experience here. Vincent and Sara are a wholly unlikable pair of protagonists; borderline racists and cockfighting enthusiasts who act like obnoxious tourists rubbishing the religions/traditions of the indigenous population. That said Sirpa Lane and especially Maurice Poli are about the best actors in the film with Melissa Chimenti really only being called upon to strip naked and alternately look slightly annoyed or randomly horny throughout. A somewhat hallucinatory trip in the end, never boring but primarily for fans of of D’Amato/euro-sleaze only, cannibal fans need not apply.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer looks excellent given it’s age. Colors are strong and vibrant, the print does feature some grain throughout but that just adds to it’s charm and isn’t distracting. A ‘Shameless rebuild edit’ that promises the longest cut of the film possible, so some short re-inserted scenes may vary in quality, again not very noticeable. Audio tracks include a dubbed English track that is very subdued, I had to up my volume considerably to make out what was being said and the soundtrack suffered from being almost inaudible. The original Italian language track fairs much better, it’s strong and clear, and the funky soundtrack comes through perfectly. Optional English subtitles are included.
Extras include – a pair of theatrical trailers (one for the Love Goddess Of The Cannibals release, the other Caribbean Papaya), a pair of alternate titles (one for Caribbean Papaya, the other for the Spanish release titled Fruta Sexual Del Caribe) and finally the ‘Shameless Trailer Park’ that now contains a good 30 minutes of trailers for Shameless Entertainment’s 20+ other titles. Oh and a nice reversible cover as is the norm with Shameless’ releases, although the main cover looks like it was put together by a chimp let loose with Photoshop.