Cannibal Terror – 1981 / Director: Alain Deruelle

The unmistakable stench of Jess Franco hovers over Cannibal Terror like a blocked drain. Unbelievably, however, the producers found a director just as inept in Alain Deruelle. The man responsible for such edifying spectacles such as Festival Porno and Orgies pour nymphomanes gives us possibly the worst film ever made. The cannibal genre has perhaps only produced one important work, Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust. Among the casual racism and unconvincing prosthetics, there lurks a work of considerable impact and power. Terror, on the other hand, is a work of unremitting shitness.

In a film like this, plot is meaningless. All that is needed is a perfunctionary storyline to get the protagonists into cannibal country, preferably with a few offal-spilling moments and some tits to spice things up a little. Whereas most cannibal films use an expedition-gone-terribly-wrong plot device, at least Terror goes the extra mile to give us a needlessly convoluted kidnap-goes-totally-awry plot instead, which is nice. What follows is so stupifyingly badly done, that words cannot fully describe it. I’ll have a go anyway, though. That this film was banned in the UK as a video nasty makes me want to renounce my citizenship and move to somewhere good, like North Korea. Perhaps I could go back to the old country, Ireland is very nice at this time of year.

Actors wander around in a Quaaludes daze, struggling not to look directly into the camera, and failing miserably not to appear embarrassed. The kidnapped little girl, the most irritating child actor ever seen until Macauley Culkin crawled out of Michael Jackson’s love nest, is dragged to a place deep in an unnamed South American country. This South American country appears to be Spain. The cannibals themselves, who appear to live five minutes from a main road, are, to a man, Europeans in Adam Ant-style face paint, and wield sticks topped with plastic skulls. Their fantastic native dancing, much of which is looped and shown several times, proves once and for all that white boys got rhythm. Witness them openly laughing into the camera as they shake their sticks around a feeble camp fire with Red Indian-style chanting playing on the soundtrack. Special mention must be made to the two sex case-types who watch the chief dismember a Kate Bush-a-like who’s Jeep overheats too close to the cannibal camp. Their self-conscious shimmying and nervous glances towards the camera give a scene, which the film makers presumably meant to be horrifying, a real air of farce and total incompetence.

Anyone committed enough to sit through this tripe will be rewarded by the sight of a sturdy-thighed woman in a white cocktail dress and matching shoes slogging through the ‘jungle’, the feeblest death-by-arrow scene ever, a respectable businessman calling a border guard a cunt, people tied to poles, Tarzan-style and a rape scene which could not have been more ineffectively done than if one of the watching monkeys had filmed it. Some scenes seem to have drifted onto the celluloid of their own volition: several times, a native attempts to steal one of the stern-faced-arms-folded chief’s bones from his pile. Why? On the guy’s second try at bone snatching, the cameraman’s attention is obviously elsewhere (possibly on the nearby topless native girl), and completely misses the attempt. His hurried downwards pan shows nothing but the chief’s feet.

This film is shit, total, unmitigated shit. That’s why I’ve watched it at least four times, and enjoyed it every time. Franco’s films leave me cold and, although this shares some footage and actors with his Mondo Cannibale, the sheer effrontery of producing a film this shambolic is endearing. There are no saving graces: acting, production values, plot? Nope, it has none. Its still great though.

Just look at the sideburns on that fucker