Director – Sergio Martino
Cast – Ursula Andress, Stacy Keach, Claudio Cassinelli, Antonio Marsina, Franco Fantasia, Lanfranco Spinola
Release Year – 1978
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I have said it time and time again that all of these Italian exploitation cannibal films are basically the same film, but that does little to stop my interest and enjoyment in this sleazy flicks. After making his career with brutal and gritty giallo flicks like Blade of the Ripper, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tale, and Torso(which I saw on the big screen thanks to Austin’s downtown Alamo Drafthouse), famed Italian director Sergio Martino made his mark on the cannibal sub-genre with The Mountain of the Cannibal God. As you should expect, this watch contains all of the usual cannibal film elements, and while it started off well I was fairly disappointed in how the film completely lost “it” towards the end, resulting in just a decent watch afterall.
When an expedition led my her husband apparently goes sour, Susan Stevenson and her brother Arthur embark to New Guinea in search of him. They join up with a colleague of her husband, Professor Edward Foster, and after searching the jungle come to the realization that not only has something dreadful happened to him, but they themselves are in danger of a mysterious tribe of cannibals thought to be extinct.
From the get-go I was interested, mainly because unlike most cannibal films this one did not take an overly long period of time for our protagonists to make their way to the jungle. I simply love the idea of loved ones going on a search for someone who has disappeared in a remote and unmapped jungle, one of the many ideas I enjoy about these films. We get the usual story ideas with Susan and Arthur meeting up with a handsome rifle-toting professor to help them, as well as lots of footage regarding animals killing each other and local tribes ritualistically killing animals. Despite our protagonists making their way to the jungle fairly early(in comparison to other cannibal films), it took the usual amount of time before we were given the cannibal action, about half of the film’s runtime. I really enjoyed the usage of the cannibals at first, with them being a bit sneakier than the usual ones we see, and they came donning odd-looking masks as well. Sadly, as I mentioned earlier, the film tends to lose it completely during the third act, which I found boring and poorly executed. For a film running just over 100 minutes(103 minute unrated extended version), I felt that it should have either been trimmed down to 90 minutes, or be given more positive scenes during the final act, but of course none of those were the case.
Director Sergio Martino played this off as the usual cannibal film as far as direction and execution go, with cheezy zoom-in camerawork and hasty editing, complimented however with great gore and some good kills as well. The sets used were great as well, which is typical of these films given the dense jungles allow for many hiding spots to be used by our protagonists and especially the cannibals. From what I understand this film contains real life animal killings, and while I cannot confirm that on my own given they were not as obvious as the killings in Cannibal Holocaust, they looked close enough to the real thing to give that claim some merit. As I mentioned earlier, I felt that either the film should have been cut down in runtime or had more interesting scenes thrown in, and Martino did little to aid that and in fact most likely contributed equally to the breakdown at the end of the film. The subject matter uninteresting but was not so much uninteresting as the execution was, so in the end I leave equal blame on Martino for this film not reaching full potential, just enough to be a sleazy cannibal film…which isn’t so bad.
Overall, The Mountain of the Cannibal God is a decent watch from Italian horror director Sergio Martino. We get the usual storyline used for these cannibal films, and while it gets off to a good start things slowly crumble at the end of the film, but Martino delivers enough gore, action, and sleaze to result in a decent cannibal film sure to be enough for those who enjoy this shameless sub-genre.