15 June 2019

The Video Nasties: Prisoner Of The Cannibal God (1978)

Now let me state from the start that I am a big Sergio Martino fan (and have been lucky enough to spend time with him on a couple of occasions when he was our guest at the Cine-Excess conference). he has made some great films - check out Torso (1973), The Case Of The Scorpion's Tail (1971), The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh (1971), 2019: After The Fall Of New York (1983), A Man Called Blade (1977) among others -  in a wide variety of genres including giallo, science fiction, western, comedy and crime films. Prisoner Of the Cannibal God represents what is, as far as I am aware, his only excursion into the territory of the Italian cannibal film.

Martino's Prisoner Of The Cannibal God is one of the few nasties to contain big name actors, in this case Ursula Andress and Stacy Keach. The back of the original Hokushin sleeve presents a neat summary of the plot...

"Dr. Foster on his weekly visit to the jungle base camp of Professor Stevenson, finds the mutilated bodies of his assistants and no Professor.

When Stevenson's wife and brother learn of his disappearance and the fact that the area where he disappeared contains rich untapped uranium sources they persuade Foster to guide them to the area to search for both - Primitive tribes, cannibalistic rituals and a trail of death follow them."

As the party of explorers make their way into the New Guinea jungle it becomes clear that each of them has their own hidden agenda. As well as double crossing each other they also have to contend with a local cannibal tribe, long thought to be extinct, on their trail.

On the whole the film is quite an enjoyable jungle adventure that is well paced and shot, however Martino does indulge in that old staple of Italian cannibal and mondo films and include actual scenes of animal cruelty that leave a nasty taste in the viewers mouth. Scenes include a monkey being devoured by an anaconda and an iguana being gutted as a 'sacrifice' to appease the gods. It is a bit depressing to see Martino stooping to this, but the scenes here are still relatively restrained compared to the excesses of Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Umberto Lenzi's Cannibal Ferox (1981).

Spending a day in Birmingham with Sergio Martino and his daughter Federica, November 2017
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