‘He was different. He wore a mask and his body was
painted white. I’ve never seen his kind before.’
It’s been a while, but we’re back in the jungle with those pesky cannibals again. This time though, talented director Sergio Martino is leading the expedition, so thankfully this one moves at a much faster pace than Deep River Savages and Cannibal.
Martino was a veteran director of horror, gialli, sex comedies and adventure films by this point in his career, and it shows. It’ll never be counted among his best work, but it definitely feels like one of the ‘biggest’ and most expensive of the Nasties. Hollywood stars like Stacy Keach and Ursula Andress don’t hurt the film either, committing to their characters and giving believable performances.
It opens, with crushing inevitability, with some animal violence. This happens about once every twenty minutes, really spoiling the pace of the movie. Martino keeps his adventure romping along at a fair old clip, going from one exciting set piece to another, but then the film constantly grinds to a halt to show, say, a snake eating a monkey or a crocodile eating an iguana. It even happens at the 93 minute mark of the film, right in the middle of the climax – with less than 10 minutes to go, we cut away from the action to watch an eagle being killed by a snake. Is it a metaphor? Fuck off, it’s bad filmmaking and should never have even been filmed, let alone put in a movie for entertainment.
And entertainment is the name of the game here. Like Deep River Savages, it’s at heart an old-fashioned jungle adventure flick. Here, however, the horror elements are much more pronounced, particularly in the last act.
Before that though, we have Ursula Andress and her brother (so annoying that he is punched by no less than four different characters throughout the movie) seeking help from rugged Stacy Keach to find her missing husband on a remote cannibal island. Along the way they encounter tarantulas, booby traps and angry natives. There’s a well-staged crocodile attack on a raft and an exciting chase afterwards. It’s also worth mentioning that the actors seem to be performing their own stunts, particularly during the raft scene and a hair-raising climb up a waterfall. It’s like Deliverance, but with more entrail eating.
Andress is finally captured by the cannibals and accepted as their goddess. While she fulfills her no doubt contractually obligated nude scene, the horror comes into play. There’s a close up of a dick being cut off, some good and proper cannibalism and a skull being smashed revealing some squashy looking brains. Meanwhile, there’s a close up of a native woman masturbating that seems to have wandered in from a Jess Franco movie and a fleeting moment of bestiality that I would rather just forget about, thank you very much.
Mountain of the Cannibal God acts as a bit of a bridge between the older cannibal films and the ones we will soon be covering. It’s still more of an adventure movie – cut out the gore and nudity and you could be left with a 90-minute kids film. But the strong scenes of violence definitely point the way towards the intense horror of likes of Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.