Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cannibal Ferox (Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray) - Make Them Celebrate Slowly

Let’s talk Ferox. Lets’ talk Make Them Die Slowly. Palmer Video in Kennilworth, NJ was the source of one of the most eye opening days of my life. I rented a pile of movies. Blood Feast, Pieces, Shocking Africa and Make Them Die Slowly were all in the stack. A tremendous assortment of naughty movies that were not meant for my fourteen year old eyes. That day was a true game changer, when I realized that I was a gorehound and not just a monster man. A fourteen year old kid armed with a Leonard Maltin movie guide that told you what objectionable content was in a film, is a guidebook to trash cinema. If the movie was rated a turkey (as opposed to the one through four stars) I had to know if it was any good. All my favorites would end up with the big bird next to the title and most Italian Horror flicks were among them. So it was me and Ferox. Cocaine and boobs on hooks. Animals being slaughtered in excess of Cannibal Holocaust’s animal slaughter (I wouldn’t see Holocaust until I was in my 20’s). Superb music, danceable and shocking. Large scale shots of New York City juxtaposed with the outskirts of cannibal filled jungles in South America.

Ferox stuck with me. The big box art stuck with me and the fact that everyone calls it Cannibal Ferox has always infuriated me even in my own love of the movie and the desire to keep the Italian Horror movies as Italian as possible. I suppose when you see a movie as Make Them Die Slowly it’s Make Them Die Slowly forever. I’m quite certain I wasn’t aware of its country of origin when I first watched it, and I know that I didn’t know about the alternate naming convention (the “real name”). Upon finally seeing Cannibal Holocaust I felt bad that I enjoy Deodato’s work to Lenzi’s work. I realized later that I could like them each for different reasons, that they were very different movies despite the common tropes and essential cannibal goodness. You can have more than one favorite movie although I will still admit that I prefer Robert Kerman in Holocaust to his role in Ferox. I prefer the score in Holocaust; the danceable intro to Ferox has made great music for dancing for me and my three year old daughter, but Holocaust makes me weepy. I think some of the more violent moments are more shocking in Holocaust, but the gore… the gore is for Ferox. Cannibal Holocaust is a veritable art movie compared to the slew spitting action in Ferox. Even though they share similar kills or dismemberments, the Ferox ones feel filthy and raunchy. Holocaust almost feels natural. Like a mondo picture which probably explains why Deodato and company got in trouble with the law for making a “snuff” picture.

You hate Cannibal Holocaust you say? Well then you hate Ferox. You truly can’t have it both ways and in a sense they are sister movies or lovers that need each other to exist. These two movies get compared, and that’s perfectly fine. You’re allowed to discuss movies, but both are equally important. The Lenzi/Deodato “war” was good for horror and good for shock film, and it got me into one of my favorite subgenres in horror, that being the cannibal movies of the 70’s and 80’s (we don’t dare go into the Italian cannibal movies of the 90’s and beyond).

That brings us to Grindhouse Releasing’s stellar offering of a multi disk, soundtrack included, art included, booklet included, fantastic media packaging for Cannibal Ferox. This is a very similar format to the release afforded Cannibal Holocaust last summer. It’s given superior treatment and demonstrates why we are overjoyed that Grindhouse Releasing has been getting into the Blu-ray market one re-issue at a time. I swoon at the thought that we will see Pieces on Blu-ray soon; if one we could be so lucky to get a similar package.

The picture quality is superb. This is a 2K transfer from the original camera negative; a treat for the fans and for Ferox enthusiasts. The grain… oh I want to bath in the texture of the film grain that is painted on my screen as if it were a screen in an auditorium. I want to feel the texture on my skin as if it were covered in the dirt and dust of a semi moldy porn theater in Manhattan. A dark lit room, perhaps your living room, with Cannibal Ferox beating it’s way on the screen through a Blu-ray lenses that looks like this, is a true chameleon. The Grindhouse Releasing transfer is best described as a FILM print on Blu-ray and not simply a digital rendering of the film. I felt the same way about Holocaust. I’ve read detracting reviews of Holocaust’s transfer. I have made sure to note those sites that review it as such and simply choose to ignore them going forward. Enjoy this special offering for its video and audio perfection. The digital stereo really works for this release, remixed by Paul Ottsson who is an Academy Award winner.

Of course the extras on this edition are voluptuous. It’s a smorgasbord of goodies. Before we discuss the soundtrack, you can take a walk through the history of Ferox and the cannibal genre as well as demystify this release with interviews and a fan/filmmaker gush of a booklet. The booklet itself features the Make Them Die Slowly title with traditional labeling and artwork. It’s handsome full color book featuring the words of Bill Landis of Sleazoid Express and Eli Roth, long time champion of Cannibal Ferox and Holocaust.

The outside slip sleeve has the tamer artwork that covers up the dirty pillows of a gorgeously drawn victim. It’s the one you’re used to with liberties taken in the background. Inside you get a medium size promo poster. The soundtrack comes with hooked-boob girl on the cover with grindy sensationalist colors and design. The interior cover features the alternative “topless captured girl” cover the epitomizes both the cannibal subgenre and exploitation Italian cinema, a true favorite of mine. The reverse of the sleeve has Umberto Lenzi’s filmography, illustrated and fun. The discs feature stills from the movie which, while nice, is not as special as the film reels from the Cannibal Holocaust set.

The cover of the CD has Giovani Lombardo Radice missing the top of his head. While I think the vinyl release of the soundtrack got the packaging tweaked to perfection, this is a fantastic digital offering included at the reasonable price of the double Blu-ray. The disc itself includes bonus tracks and alternate takes. The Budy-Maglione score is a true creeper with plenty of Italian stings, mood shifts and a feeling of complete despair.

The interview reels on this one are extensive and far reaching going beyond the scope of Ferox. Umberto Lenzi, Geovani Lombardo Radice, Danilo Mattei, Zora Kerowa and even special effects man, Gino DeRossi.

The deleted scenes… two animal kills that may not appeal to the vegan horror fans among you. Brutal stuff and not for the squeamish (I love having the chance to use the word squeamish). Only two scenes so if you can’t stomach the animal kills, you don’t have to sit through that extra feature. The still and poster gallery contains a lot of the familiar images from the picture, but is a great representation of the visual history of Ferox. Remember that this is an unrated, uncensored director’s cut. Expect to see all the animal evil on screen.

You have option to listen in stereo, original mono or Italian and you also get the Italian, German and US trailers.

Perhaps my strongest recommendation for novice fans and longtime genre gorehounds is to have you enjoy the Eaten Alive! Documentary that features the history of the Italian cannibal film with all the greats. Lenzi, Deodato, Martino, Radice, Kerman. It’s a feature length move on top of the feature length movie you paid to watch. You won’t be quizzed on this, but it’s a great way to get into the genre, explore titles with which you may be unfamiliar and give you juicy tidbits about the bastard movies of beautiful Italian cinema.

I’ve seen the reviews of this disc. They’re all good, and that warms my heart. They also seem to take stance on which of the biggie directors from Italy got the cannibal genre right. If they shocked you, they got it right. If you had fun while be just a lil disturbed and maybe even a little turned on by some debauched image on screen, they got right. If you remember the music or a quote (“get out of my face, motherfucker”), then they got it right.  Ferox got it right, and so did the rest of the Italian golden-agers who stopped to make you think about what was acceptable cinema; what was acceptable entertainment; what was shocking; and what was thought-provoking. Have fun with Cannibal Ferox. Make sure to take a drive around Manhattan listening to the score.

From Grindhouse Releasing: 

Shot on location in the savage Amazon wilds of South America, and known during its original U.S. release as MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY, CANNIBAL FEROX is one of the most violent and shocking films ever made. There are at least two dozen scenes of barbaric torture and sadistic cruelty graphically shown.

The legendary Grindhouse Releasing deluxe edition DVD of Umberto Lenzi’s infamous classic of graphic horror is still available. And watch for the upcoming Blu-ray/DVD edition of CANNIBAL FEROX  with shocking new bonus features!

-Original uncensored director’s cut
-Spectacular new digital stereo re-mix
-Candid and shocking audio commentary by director Umberto Lenzi and star John Morghen
-Exclusive on-camera interview with Umberto Lenzi
-Original Italian, German and U.S. theatrical trailers
-Extensive gallery of stills and poster art
-Exhaustive filmographies
-Liner notes by legendary Times Square historian Bill Landis (SLEAZOID EXPRESS)

1 comment:

  1. I disagree: you can love Cannibal Ferox and hate Cannibal Holocaust. I do. For me Cannibal Holocaust is a very boring movie: the bad acting, the bad dialogue and the uninteresting story makes me feel disconected from the movie so the gore scenes doesn't have any impact on me, I can appreciate the quality of the special effects but nothing else. On the other hand, I like the story of Cannibal Ferox and its themes, plus the somewhat likeable or interesting characters made me invest on the events of the movie and so the gore scenes do have an effect.