Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mountain of the Cannibal God

Monday, October 14, 2008

My first experience with an Italian cannibal movie was bad enough to turn me off of the genre for a long time. That movie was Eaten Alive (Umberto Lenzi's, not the weird-ass Tobe Hooper movie), and I guessed I watched it about 2 1/2 - 3 years ago, when I was still in college. It was one of the few horror movies I've seen that I, on some level, objected to. Something about it actually offended me. At least part of that was the (actual) animal cruelty depicted in the movie... I'm not an animal lover, but I don't need to see people cutting open living creatures. Mostly though, I think it was the pervading sense of misogyny in the film. I actually wrote a paper in college defending horror movies from charges of misogyny, but Eaten Alive is not a film I would stand up for. There is so much violence directed towards women, almost pornographically shown, in addition to numerous gratuitous sequences of rape, and all with no point. Last House On the Left is another movie with a lot of rape and violence directed towards women, but it is made with some level of skill and artistry. Eaten Alive is a corny, shitty, poorly made, low-rent Italian exploitation film with no real point except to depict human suffering, preferably of the women.

So what I'm trying to say is that I thought it was a slightly below average movie. And from what I've heard about other Italian cannibal movie classics like Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox, I should stay away. But there was something tempting about Mountain of the Cannibal God, something different. For one, it stars the sexy Ursula Andress and the badass Stacy Keach, which is like way classy for this kind of movie. The production values looked on the higher end, and it seemed less sleazy and depraved than Eaten Alive... while still having an appropriate level of sleaze and depravity. And it was directed by Sergio Martino, whose Torso I just watched for YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ and enjoyed, and who also did some other decent giallos.

And I'm glad to say that this movie didn't bother the way that Eaten Alive did, this was much more in the spirit of the sleazy B movies that I like, despite some unfortunate and unnecessary animal violence. Sadly, though, it wasn't a very good movie either. Ursula Andress gets naked, which is great, and there are a handful of entertaining moments of action and violence, but it's too slow and long for one of these movies, and with a weird structure. Things that seem like they should be major events barely register. Stacy Keach is positioned as the male lead in the film, but then about 30 minutes from the end he just kinda slips off a waterfall and dies. After that, the remaining characters are captured by the cannibals, and the movie starts to get weird with a crazy cannibal sex orgy (including graphic female masturbation, and a man fucking a giant pig). It seems like it's heading towards something big... but then they just kind of escape, and there is a brief fight with some cannibals, and the end. It's a surprisingly indifferent finale. In fact it's a lot like Turistas in that regard... it has all the obligatory exploitative elements for one of these movies, but it's all indifferently staged and doesn't leave you feeling like you watched much of a movie.

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