Cannibal A Go Go
One of the few genres not to owe anything to Hollywood. Cannibal films were the rage in Italy during the late 70's and early 80's, and all pretty much had the same plot and same conclusion. All you needed was a jungle setting, plenty of natives, a few silly explorers and enough guts and gore to make a billy goat puke. Most infamous of these films would be Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust and Umberto Lenzi's equally vile Cannibal Ferox. There would be a few non-jungle related cannibal movies, but none of them lived up to the glory or nasty reputation of their Italian cousins.

Anthrophagus- (1981)

Dir- Joe D'Amato
Director Joe D'Amato directed this mean little film that focuses on a group of tourists who are stranded on a remote Greek Island. As they explore the island, they soon find their numbers thinning as something is stalking them and munching on their corpses. D'Amato doesn't leave much out this vomit maker, mixing the standard stalk and slash with some cannibal action. Severely cut in this country, the European release was popular enough to spawn a sequel.

Cannibal Apocalypse- (1980)

Dir- Antonio Margheriti
What a genuine shock, for once a cannibal movie that doesn't take place in South America or involve pissed off natives. Giovanni Lambardo Radice and John Saxon are Vietnam vets who had encountered a pair of soldiers eating Vietcong brisket. One of the cannibals bites Saxon before he is rescued and it when he returns he develops a taste for human flesh. He also has a virus that turns others into flesh eaters, so you know that people are going to have a finger licking good time. As with other films it imitates you get the standard bloody gore and gruesome guts. Some highlights include a doctor getting his tongue bitten off, a motorcycle gang member eye gouged and a mechanic getting his leg sawed off. With elements of Romero and Fulci, the film tends to flip flop between a zombie film and a cannibal munch fest, but real purists know the difference. As expected many versions exist and, of course, we get the kinder and gentler version in the US. Alternate titles include Invasion of the Flesh Hunters, Cannibal Massacre and the real silly Cannibals in the Streets.

Cannibal Ferox- (1981)

Dir- Umberto Lenzi
I recall writing the review of Cannibal Holocaust thinking that it was the vilest of the Spaghetti Cannibal Films of the 70's. Like some plague Italian shocker masters took it upon themselves to top each other in this unique genre. Make Them Die Slowly would become one of the most infamous of the genre and next to Cannibal Holocaust may well be one of the most brutal of the Cannibal sub-genre. A group of graduate students set out to investigate the stories of cannibalism in South America and hope to disprove them as wild rumors. They befriend a cruel drug dealer, and in the course of the expedition he ends up raping and killing a local villager. The tribe then captures the outsiders and kills all except for one woman. The tribe then proceeds to cook and eat the team members as revenge for the cruelty the drug dealer inflicted on them. The surviving woman does make it back to civilization and receive her diploma, all the while keeping the horrible incident to herself. The film is best noted for the brutal impalement scene involving a woman who is hung by her breasts in a scene reminiscent of A Man Called Horse. Like Cannibal Holocaust, this film's overt racism is masked by the brutality of white men on their culture. They seem to focus more on the brutal, savage behavior of the locals and downplay the violence of the white explorers. As with all Cannibal films of this period what you got was plenty of cruel behavior, a lot of bloodshed and little mercy is given to the explorers.

Cannibal Holocaust- (1980)

Dir- Ruggero Deodato

Dr. Butcher, MD- (1980)

Dir- Marino Girolami
A series of organ disappearances occurs at a Manhattan hospital, and the investigators soon discover the thief is an Asian native who is taking the body parts back to his island. A team is put together including the head doctor, a female anthropologist, and two other officials to search this island and discover what is going on. The expedition lands on a remote Asian island and is soon attacked by a band of cannibals, the two survivors then find a scientist who is reanimating corpses by using the brains and limbs stolen from the hospital. If that were not enough the expedition discovers that a band of cannibals also lives on the island, and they must deal with the deadly duo of cannibals and zombies. This ultra gross Italian classic boasts the usual vomitous gore and features plenty of disembowelment, gut eating, eye gouging and a cool scene where a zombie's head gets cut up by an outboard motor. The bonus is that this film features both Cannibals and Zombies running amuck, now whoever said you couldn't get the best of both worlds.

Eaten Alive-(1980)

Dir- Umberto Lenzi
The general rule among the cannibal movie makers was to out-gross each other and make their film even more unsettling than their contemporaries. However, director Umberto Lenzi produces what may be one of the less gruesome cannibal tales but still makes it exciting enough for cannibal fans. A hit man using a blowgun murders three people and is killed after he is hit by a truck. On his body, an 8mm film is found that yields evidence of the whereabouts of a lost woman. Her concerned sister learns of a cult she may have joined after she is seen on the film. She then leaves for the jungles of Asia joined by cannibal film regular Robert Kerman. The two travel through the jungle on a canoe and encounter dangerous animals and tribes of primitive people with a taste for human flesh. They are captured by a group led by a religious cult leader who abuses his followers and has an army of followers who act on his commands. Locating her sister and convincing her to leave is one of many challenges as escape is out of the question with so many hostile elements in the way. The film is quite funny in many unintentional ways and sports some hokey dialogue and some transplanted footage from another cannibal movie. Director Lenzi would step into even crueler territory with the more shocking and way grosser Cannibal Ferox.

Green Inferno- (2013)

Dir- Eli Roth

Jungle Holocaust- (1977)

Dir- Ruggero Deodato
Before Cannibal Holocaust would forever villanize Italian director Ruggero Deodato, he would direct this his first Cannibal film. A plane crashes with two survivors in the jungles of South America, and local natives then capture them. One of the men is killed when he is stripped and hung in the air and dropped to the ground. The another survivor is humiliated by kids pissing on him; he soon meets a sympathetic native girl who takes a liking to him and helps him escape. The two then engage in really wild sex in the jungle, but she is captured and disemboweled by her people and has hot coals thrown into her chest cavity. If this weren't enough, you find the usual animal cruelty like a crocodile being gutted open and snakes eating lizards. This film was made in Malaysia and was produced in many versions where either the sex or the gore was toned down or beefed up. Even with its cuts, it is still a very sick film with some cruel acts of cannibalism and very graphic scenes of animal cruelty. Among the many other Cannibal films, this one would stand out as one of the worst until Deodato released the infamous and ultra sick Cannibal Holocaust. Lamberto Bava was the co-script and assistant director of this film.

Ravenous- (1999)

Dir- Antonia Bird

Texas Chainsaw Massacre- (1974)

Dir- Tobe Hooper
In the history of movies, we have yet to see another film that so shocked and horrified audiences since the days of Hitchcock. Today this movie would rate about as well as any slasher film, but in its day it was not what you call a family film. A group of hippies picks up a weird guy who babbles on about his family; he is soon kicked out when he slashes one of the hippies. They then make a few turns, run out of gas and end up at a house occupied by the weirdest family on record. The family has a knack for furniture made of bones and taste for human flesh. They soon make hamburger meat out of the group one at a time. Although many critics overplayed the movie's gore, it was indeed a graphic film, but the chilling atmosphere and the constant whir of the chainsaw make it more appetizing. Followed by a couple of dumb sequels and an untold number of crappy copycats. Surprisingly this movie was based on the same story that Hitchcock used in his classic Psycho a generation before.

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover- (1989)

Dir- Peter Greenaway
From its rather violent and disgusting opening to its even more disturbing ending Peter Greenaway's THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER sets itself apart from any movie you may have encountered. Established in a gourmet restaurant, the film details the lives of the four title characters, the dutiful yet tortured chef, the violent mobster owner, his abused love-starved wife and her bookworm lover. The thief is a large and brutish fellow who enjoys a lavish yet obscene feast surrounded by his cronies, he insults and abuses his wife along with his chef. His offensive table manners annoy and disgust the patrons yet his reputation as a killer keep them from complaining. At another table sits a bookworm who enjoys a novel while his meal gets cold, his attentions rarely shy away from his novel even with the rude behavior of the loud mobster. One night he stares out, and his eyes meet those of the abused wife, within moments the two are off having sex in the ladies room. This routine continues as the loud mobster eats his meals, insults the chef while his wife and her lover go off and make love in every imaginable uncomfortable location in the restaurant from the refrigerator to the storage room. The chef keeps a close eye on their antics to help prevent the thief from learning of the escapades. The cuckold thief discovers the charade and punishes the lover by forcing him to eat a novel page by page. He later has him killed as an example to his wife. The woman decides that enough is enough and has the chef prepare one final meal for her husband, complete with a most unpleasant appetizer. This film in many ways is a parable for every emotion from love, greed & revenge. The desire of the mobster and his control over everyone sets the film up for its rather shocking yet appropriate ending. The actors involved have portrayed major characters in Shakespeare plays, their training, and delivery raises this movie above the freakish elements that would be exploited in any other film. This is far from any freak show, and it's a beautifully shot and well thought out the film with very believable and sympathetic characters. They are asked to do things that few human beings would have the nerve or the stomach for. The subject matter may be unsettling, but this is because humans are every bit as corrupted; on or off screen.

Untold Story- (1992)

Dir- Danny Lee & Herman Lau
Anthony Wong (Hard Boiled) is the owner and chef of the Eight Immortals Restaurant. The previous owners mysteriously disappeared along with his family, prompting the local police to search for clues to their whereabouts. The chief detective Danny Lee (The Killer) intensifies the investigation and soon discovers the truth is far too shocking than anyone has considered. The Untold Story is an intelligent and well-written story with complex characters and dark humor. Supposedly based on a true story the events of this film are very much not for the squeamish, then again with Hong Kong cinema who can ask for anything more. Wong's performance would earn him the 1993's Hong Kong Film Award.