Cannibal Terror (1981)

a.k.a. - Terreur cannibale

Eurociné present an ultra-low budget cannibal horror starring Antonio Mayans and Olivier Mathot. Severin USA R0 DVD.

The Film

A pair of bumbling crooks are challenged by their female member to try something a little more interesting and rewarding, so they decide to kidnap the young daughter of a wealthy car merchant. They meet up with a contact to flee across the border but she is attacked and killed by cannibals when they stop to fix the car, the crooks narrowly manage flee to their safe house. Eventually the father finds out where his daughter is being held and sets out to track her down, but the crooks see them coming and flee into the deadly jungle...

Although not the first cannibal film, Cannibal Holocaust (1979) spawned a large number of sequels and rip-offs looking to cash in. Having made their name in exploitation cinema, the French production company Eurociné quickly turned their attention to this new market, rushing out Sexo caníbal (1980) and Mondo cannibale (1980) from their long time regular Jess Franco and when these proved successful, a third film, Cannibal Terror. The storyline seems to be copied heavily from the previous Sexo caníbal and they have certainly retained that film's very sketchy plot, providing just enough storyline to get the characters into a position to get eaten by cannibals and have a few gratuitous sex scenes along the way. To this extent characterisation is almost completely absent, the major character of Martin in particular seems to appear out of nowhere at the safe house. For some reason the kidnapped girl seems to be really enjoying herself and is completely unconcerned that she has not seen her parents in several days - perhaps an attempt to stop the censors from objecting to the characters having to bundle a struggling child the whole way.

One real relief is that the script chooses not to play up the bumbling nature of the two crooks - the opening scenes as they ineptly try to break into a boat suggest that it could have been intended as a slapstick comedy. Continuity is none too great and there are many plot holes - we never find out what happened to the ransom demands, never get to see the kidnap itself and never understand why Danville would take his wife on a potentially deadly mission. As far as exploitation goes, the film does boast a couple of good gut munching scenes but although Eurociné were highly experienced sexploitation producers and had packed plenty of nudity into Sexo caníbal, this film is seriously lacking in this deparment, with just a single brief nude scene and a rather unnecessary rape (another sex scene tastefully cuts away before the action starts). The pacing is pretty sedate throughout, as the film tries to pad itself out to a full 90 minute runtime and it moves along to a rather uninspired ending.

Unlike Eurociné's first two cannibal movies, this is not directed by Jess Franco but is highly remniscent of his productions from the era. Credited director Alain Deruelle does a reasonable job on the film but is clearly wanting to do something much more artisic, as a number of beautiful camera angles testify. Editing however is a real problem, with the film jumping between scenes quite randomly at times giving it the appearance of being cut in places, while the scenes for a sub-plot around a character called Pedro clearly seem to be have been shot later and spliced in. The film appears to be set in South America but the landscape is very clearly Spanish and a few grainy stock shots can do nothing to help convince the audience otherwise (in fact they only make it more noticable how little the scenery looks like a real jungle). However the gore effects are decent - the actors munching their way through a big pile of animal guts - although we never get to see any detailed disembowling and several of the deaths are off camera. The soundtrack is a mixed bag with an annoyingly upbeat main theme but some good dark piano elements in the more menacing scenes.

Jess Franco regulars Antonio Mayans and Olivier Mathot are the two familiar faces in this film and put up a good show - generally all of the lead actors are able to hold their own. Rather less effective are the extras, the cannibals in particular look like nothing more than bored White Europeans and many of them really to not have the physique to be dancing almost naked (some of the better looking cannibals are actually culled from footage for the earlier Jess Franco production Mondo cannibale).

The cannibal genre was never awash with cash, although most of the productions could at least afford to shoot in real jungles, so this really is a barrel-scraping production and it isn't really saved by the script or the relative lack of sleaze. Accordingly, Cannibal Terror could hardly be described as a must-see film, but for fans of Eurociné and Jess Franco style productions or cannibal films in general, this is likely to be of interest - just provided you don't expect any extreme gore and nudity or a coherent plot and authentic location shooting.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Antonio Mayans - a Jess Franco regular who also appeared in Macumba Sexual (1982)
Directed by anyone interesting? Alain Deruelle (credited as Allan W. Steeve) - a little known director who also worked on a Eurociné Women-In-Prison film Gardiennes du pénitencier (1979) and the Brigitte Lahaie vehicle Festival érotique (1978)
Any gore or violence? A couple of scenes of gut munching and a vividly mutilated corpse, although no on-screen disembowling.
Any sex or nudity? A brief female nude scene and a quite violent rape scene.
Who is it for? Fans of Jess Franco style films and the cannibal genre might find this of interest.

See Also:
Cannibal Holocaust (1979) Although not the first cannibal film, Ruggero Deodato's controversial picture was responsible for making the genre popular and spawning dozens of cash-ins and rip-offs.
Sexo caníbal (1980) Jess Franco's first cannibal film for Eurociné from which this film liberally steals the storyline. Hardly the best cannibal film out there, but noticably better directed than this one.
Mondo cannibale (1980) The second cannibal film that Franco helmed for Eurociné; Lina Romay and Antonio Mayans star, alongside Al Cliver as a man looking for his daughter, kidnapped by cannibals years before.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
The print quality is generally very strong with only very slight grain, good colours and high detail. A few stock wildlife shots are lower quality and a couple of brief scenes have more specking and grain and might be from a different print.
Audio English mono - sounds fine although the dubbing is quite poor (the little girl is clearly dubbed by an adult - although fortunately she doesn't speak much).
Subtitles None
Extras The disc includes:
  • Spicy Deleted Scene" - an extension of one of the scenes from the film, including some extra nudity - the same quality as the film print, although audio is French language. (1m 24s)
  • Original theatrical trailer - English language, with a rather strange voice-over and seemingly random clips from the film.
  • EASTER EGG: An interview with Jess Franco where they ask him about his involvement in this film and he discusses the director Alain Deruelle and some of his work with Eurociné. Franco speaks in very heavily accented English. (6 minutes)
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Other regions? Released in the UK by Hard Gore with an uncut, anamorphic print but no extras (is now out-of-print). Also released by Laser Paradise in Germany - non-anamorphic print with German audio only.
Cuts? Cut status unknown. English language print.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 9th September 2008.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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