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Home | Film Reviews | Extreme Cinema | Film Review: Cannibal Ferox (1981)

Film Review: Cannibal Ferox (1981)

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New York grad student and anthropologist Gloria, her brother Rudy, and their friend Pat, travel to a remote part of the Amazon jungle to find and disapprove the local theory of cannibalism among the local tribes when they run into something far worse: a cruel and sadistic, streetwise drug dealer, named Mike Lawson, and his partner, Joe, hiding out in the jungle from murder and drug-dealing charges in back in New York and whom are presently using the docile natives to mine for emeralds and harvest cocca. When the crazed Lawson kills a few natives, including the daughter of the chief, just for his sadistic enjoyment, the warriors turn against their masters and subject the two dealers and three grad students to the most horrific torture and murder for their crimes using their own harsh law of the jungle.


1981 marked the year Cannibal Ferox arrived on the scene (not surprising as the 2 nasty films “Cannibal Holocaust” and” Cannibal Apocalypse” debuted a year before). Though with each of these contributing to extreme moments, Cannibal Ferox still stands on its own into forays of nasty cinema. It was originally titled Make them Die Slowly (or was it the other way around?) In any case, it was nasty enough to take a spot on the “Video Nasties” list for its use of extreme violence. For starters, this film (like Cannibal Holocaust) uses plenty of  real on-screen animal killings.


In my mind, its nothing too different than watching tigers tear apart a deer on wild Kingdom, but none the less the scenes are filmed close up and made an impact. In one scene, character Mike Logan kills an animal trapped in a pit.

Though the story goes that the actual scene was performed by a double as the actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice refused to do it. We also get to see a Boa constrictor strangle and eat a small pig…which makes for a interesting bit of something you don’t see everyday.
The film boasted advertisements “banned in 31 countries” (even though that’s not true anymore). The movie has a small team of 3 friends who head for a expedition out into the Amazon country.


Anthropologist Gloria (Lorraine De Selle) is intent on finishing her research for her graduate degree. The subject is why Cannibalism doesn’t exist. Of course this is an obvious setup for disaster as they head into tribe country to only be proven wrong in their notions. Gloira heads out with her friend Pat (Zora Kerova) and brother Rudy (Danilo Mattei).

For some odd reason, they tend to believe they can just walk into a tribe, gather there proof and move on. Though what they didn’t anticipate was ass hole of the film and criminal Mike Logan showing up with his buddy as they try and escape from the village. The 3 are told a contrived story that they were on the verge of being cannibalized. What do they all do? They of course head back into the village to see whats going on. Sort of a flaw in reasoning, but hey, that’s the cinema right? Well Mike and his friend turn out to be the spark that lights the fire as the group finally discovers the truth about their disrespect to the tribe, killing one of them and torturing another in front of them.


This kind of behavior really pisses of the tribe, so when the younger stronger tribesmen return they take it upon themselves a bit of retribution. It also seems to have awakened the cannibalistic nature of them which spares no opportunity to eat animals and flesh when they get a chance. What really stands out in this film is the showing of castration being implemented not once, but twice on screen. Not to mention some additional tortures and a full on body cavity opening scene that has a few of the tribe pulling out innards like it was prime rib. By standards today, its somewhat hard pressed to still put this one above newer more violent films but it does has its effect in its simple approach.

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The stand out moment though is the scene you’ll find on the nasty poster. Pat, the groups tag along friend get stripped of her shirt and then hung by her tits with 2 meat hooks. The special fx on this one is pretty convincing with probably really excels this one up the disturbing charts. Finally we get to see how the cannibals scalp a person and enjoy the delicacy afterwards. The film was directed by Umberto Lenzi who has a laundry list full of horror features to his name.

Cannibal Ferox was originally filmed in Italian / Spanish with its scenes actually filmed in the Amazon rain forest. Viewers might find the opener crime lord scenes unnecessary but it does set up a reason for more folks to venture out to the rain forest to track these idiots down. The movie embraces much of the motive of eye for an eye even though they are still savages. Though its extreme moments were extreme enough to keep this one remembered by many as a twisted film to watch.


-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)

Cannibal Ferox is now available on 3 Disc Deluxe Bluray per Grindhouse Releasing

Cannibal Ferox – Make them Die Slowly


  1. It’s definitely without a doubt one of the top cannibal exploitation movies of all time. Holocaust obviously holds the top spot, at least for me, but Ferox is my close second.



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