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Home | Film Reviews | Extreme Cinema | Film Review: Mondo Cannibal (2004)

Film Review: Mondo Cannibal (2004)



The network where the famous anchorwoman Grace Forsyte works, is collapsing and she would do everything to regain the favour of the audience, therefore she convinces her professional team to go to the Amazon jungle for a sensational scoop about the cannibals


Combining the sensational brutality of mondo documentaries with the jungle adventures that saturated silver screens during Hollywood’s golden age, the cannibal genre was born. Italian directors flocked to the rainforests throughout the 1970’s, creating some of the most extreme exploitation films ever envisioned and stirring up worldwide controversy. These are the movies that even hardcore horror hounds will think one unstable for taking pleasure in.

Umberto Lenzi is credited as pioneer with his Il paese del sesso selvaggio, a.k.a. “Man From Deep River.” Released in 1972, it was criticized and banned nearly everywhere for its graphic depictions of sexual assault, violence and the impossible to be unseen sequences of real animal slaughter. These elements all became essential staples of the genre, as displayed in the most infamous of the lot, “Cannibal Holocaust” from Rugerro Deodato. Arrested on indecency charges and investigated for murder when rumors surfaced that the found footage predecessor was a snuff film, he and his grisly opus became the calling cards of a celluloid movement that would soon dissolve into obscurity. Or did it?

Not entirely friends, and I don’t mean this year’s Eli Roth homage, “The Green Inferno.” Bruno Mattei worked as an editor for Jesus Franco and Joe D’Amato before branching out and compounding a portfolio of disposable trash that would earn him recognition as “the Ed Wood of Italian film making.” Did you know he’d made “Terminator 2” one year before Cameron’s official sequel? That takes either talent (and balls) or a shocking lack thereof (and balls). No one will deny that he falls into the latter category, but his cinematic abortions are oddly endearing in that respect.

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Directing under the pseudonym Vincent Dawn, Mattei delivers the questionable goods with “Mondo Cannibal.” Known in different regions as “Cannibal World” and “Cannibal Holocaust 2,” our latest offering plays like a loose remake of Deodato’s cult classic, regurgitating dialogue and posing the same moral question of who the true primitives are. Shot in the Philippines on video for what appears to be a budget of twelve bucks, “Mondo” is a dismal clone that succeeds only in mesmerizing with unintentional hilarity. Is that a recommendation? In the case of yours truly, it is. I live for this shit.

Following a recent cancellation, television journalist Grace Forsyte (pronounced like the term for the ability to envision future problems) teams with crusading newsman Bob Manson for what she is certain will be a ratings darling. Helena Wagner and Claudio Morales, both one-and-done performers, portray the dynamic duo. They head to the wilds of Manila with a technical crew of three in search of a mythical tribe referred to by locals as “the invisible people.” According to legend, the savages still practice ancient native customs including the consumption of human flesh.

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Led by a guide dressed like a Guns N’ Roses roadie, the five hope to capture the rituals and keep their weekly program supported by the network. A couple of fruitless (unless you consider the exposing of breasts progress) days in, Grace decides the time for creative intervention is upon them. Relying on Bob’s history of staging atrocities and blaming them on companies that contribute to deforestation, a small militia of soldiers employed to keep peace in the outer villages is paid off to execute a group of tribal hunters under the assumption of cannibalism.

The douchebaggery of the leads doesn’t end there. Informed that their viewership has doubled since the first segment aired, they raise the stakes by torching the village of the deceased men, burning women and children to death in the process. Through the magic of editing, these unspeakable acts are attributed to the invisible people, and the group plunges deeper into the tropical wilderness to locate the clan and reap the benefits of their tenacity. As anyone familiar with the routine is aware, these grown-ass degenerates will definitely reap something by closing credits.


It would be blindly playing the odds to state that the performances are amateur hour material, because the voices are so outrageously dubbed that a European Dustin Hoffman could be buried under the robotic British dialects and baffling phraseology. The lines read like English interpreted into Italian via Bing Translator, and then fed back to English again. Standout examples are when a gutted caiman is referred to as “luscious for dinner,” and Grace uses “snot fanciers” to insult the executives. I have no clue what the hell that phrase is supposed to mean, but it delights nonetheless.


The lone factor that sets “Mondo” apart is the volume of cheap carnage it subjects the viewer to. Its inspirations were often slow to start, offering glimpses of butchery and random nudity to keep the proceedings interesting while building to a gory climax. Mattei (sorry, Dawn) dives into the fray from the get, opening with the endeavor’s most gruesome scene before backtracking to the setup. The effects are laughable, especially in the instances that require severed heads. As detailed in shameless close-up, these props look as though they were created by decapitating a wooden statue, slathering an inch of grease paint on the face and calling it good enough.

Bruno Mattei passed away in 2007, leaving behind a dossier of nearly fifty titles as director and countless others in his editing and writing capacities. Considered a hack at the onset, that popular opinion held firm throughout his career and therefore his record remains unaltered. Assuredly, this is not a ploy to guilt you into watching a piece you’re uncomfortable with, friends.


What it boils down to is whether or not you enjoy cannibal movies. If you’re like the majority and can’t bring yourself to stomach them, then how did you make it this far into the review in the first place? If you admire their anarchic debauchery, you still might loathe “Mondo Cannibal.” Then again, maybe you won’t. That’s as honest as any condensed recap of these polarizing works could possibly be. For what it’s worth, I dug it. But I’m very weird.

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