Wednesday, August 3, 2011

PRIMITIVES: Finding the Savage Terror in the Robot Filled Jungle of Indonesia

OK good. Now that we have all that Italian cannibal stuff out of the way, it's time to focus on different things. Different things? Yes, different things. I give you...


So when The Bloodsprayer said it was time for our yearly dose of horror films with extra cheese and pepperoni I wanted to contribute. I had written a little nostalgia piece last year about how I came to love 7 Doors of Death aka The Beyond. I loved writing it. I loved seeing it up there. There's nothing like going to your favorite blog site and seeing something you wrote up there. So the first Italian Horror Week passes, and I get to thinking. There wasn't much substance to that blog. I could have really done some research and fleshed it out. I could have at least found or made an audio clip of the distinctly different soundtrack from the 7 Doors version (and it will be my ring tone/text message tone someday... it will pain you). So this year I gave the cannibal genre my all.

Eating People is Easy - Dr. Jimmy's Cannibalistic Holiday Underrated Dissertation

Or you can dine on last year's entry... a dramatic nostalgic expose on the cogs and widgets of my Italian obessession.

How I Learned to Love Italian Horror Movies

In all there were sixteen movies on my list. Some I had scene. Some I had heard of. Most I was blissfully unaware of. So I tracked most of them down. The first thing to know about tracking down an Italian film of any kind is there are usually several different names. There's the Italian name, English name, distributors name, re-cut name... It's nice to have a project that is research intensive. I thought the research would be actually viewing the movies and not actually scouting them out.

Needless to say I watched all the movies I had been missing from my repertoire. Some of it was brutal while other films I couldn't believe I had waited so long to see. I am now a huge Robert Kerman fan. I am a huge Eaten Alive! fan in general. I think that Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenzi have stepped into the ring with Argento and Fulci. For years the only two names you'd hear in Italian film were Argento and Fulci due to their commercial success and bad ass pictures. I have added name after name to that list: Bava, Martino, Lamberto Bava... and those are just the semi-popular ones. I have a way to go. It's a fun journey and I'm glad to be on it.

In this whole research project I missed one film from my list. I couldn't find it anywhere save on a Tales of Voodoo release and I didn't have time to wait for it to make it to my door. Low and behold a rather new Facebook buddy was able to make it happen. I had a copy in my little hand with a weekend. The irony is that it wasn't in fact an Italian horror picture. It was an Indonesian horror picture. All my research had pointed me directly to it only to find out that it was of an origin other than Italian. Well, I didn't want to impede on the "perfection" of my Italian Horror Week (part 2) entry... Please enjoy this little summation of Primitives.

Primitives aka Primitif aka Savage Terrors (1978)

This is another picture that claims to have been a "true story". This is true like Fox News (or any news for that matter) is true. I'm sure there are as many "cannibals in the jungle" stories as there are "man walks into a bar" jokes. Furthermore I'm not sure you are allowed to trust a film that thanks the government from the country of origin where the film was made. It's like sucking up to the teacher. To do so speaks of conspiracy and unbalanced powers.

Right of the bat I'm going to tell you that I was only able to view the first half of the film. The second wasn't there. I'm not necessarily put off by that given what I saw in the first half. Primitives is no Mondo Cane or Eaten Alive! It's got a killer soundtrack. There's this epic jungle piece in the intro and then a new wave synth escapade compliments of Kraftwerk entitled "We are the Robots". How this song fits into this picture I'll never know, but I'm glad it did. Truth: I don't even like Kraftwerk. I personally thought it sounded more like the Revolting Cocks at first but it was 1978. Less angry too I suppose.

One thing I can tell you about native pharmacology and surgery... they invite an audience (goodbye HIPPA violations, hello fanfare). They also seem to enjoy licking wounds, "surgical" instruments and then... if you're lucky, they medicate later. You have to wonder if it tastes like chicken and not simply because it's cliche to say so. This particular injury looked a bit like a fruit roll up.

In Italian cannibal pictures everyone is dressed inappropriately for the excursion on which they are to go. No different here. These cool cats are dressed at the height of Euro Trash fashion. You're waiting for them to pull out the airplane bottle of Campari as opposed to J&B. Campari being the unofficial dirnk of the cannibal genre as opposed to the prevalence of J&B scotch in the Giallo genre. It's a territorial thing.

Yes, that is the music from Eyes Wide Shut.

As often discussed, animal deaths about: Monitor lizard, Anaconda (you'll notice that in all of my research/writing I'll ever do about this genre I will get the large snake names wrong every time... anaconda v. boa constrictor? I am not a god damn herpetologist). I'm not sure if the Indonesian filmmakers simply followed the Italian/Mondo format, but I'm hard pressed to find another explanation as to how this picture gets its characteristic Italian traits half way around the globe. From what I read it was simply an homage piece (or a capitalization on the popularity of the genre). The director simply liked what was coming out of Italy and made his own picture.

Back to the music. You want some truly great cannibal music that has a little of Wendy Carlos's the Shining in it? This score is for you (not the Kraftwerk part of course). I had actually made a bet with myself that Kubrick's the Shining and Primitives had the same composer. Nope. Gatot Sedarto is not Wendy Carlos (even post op).

If Italian cannibal films or cannibal films regardless of nationality of two parents they'd be Mondo Cane and Jungle Adventure pictures of the 1960's. This one is closer to the jungle adventure pictures. Also, the Mondo Cane parent got divorce and shacks up with the softcore porn parent constantly. A torrid love affair. I guess I'll leave you with these two pieces of info. 1. If you are going into the jungle don't wear speedos because it impairs the audience from taking the film seriously. 2. Have you ever seen a barking cannibal? Well, I did.

-Dr. Terror (Cannibal)

Special thanks to Jorge Lopez for procuring this piece of cinema for me. It is much appreciated. I owe you.

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