01st Jun2018

‘The Mountain of the Cannibal God’ Blu-ray Review (Shameless)

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Ursula Andress, Antonio Marsina, Stacy Keach, Claudio Cassinelli, Antonio Marsina, Franco Fantasia, Lanfranco Spinola, Carlo Longhi | Written by Cesare Frugoni | Directed by Sergio Martino

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When her husband fails to return from an expedition after several months in the jungles of New Guinea, Susan Stevenson (Ursula Andress) and her brother Arthur Weisser (Antonio Marsina), enlist the help of Professor Edward Foster (Stacy Keach) to start their own unauthorised expedition to find him. Believing he may have ventured into a forbidden cursed island, they decide to go themselves but as they travel deep into the jungle they soon realise the wildlife may be deadly, but they are not the only predators on the island that they will have to overcome if they are going to get back out alive.

The Mountain of the Cannibal God is an Italian exploration film from director Sergio Martino, which takes the action deep into the jungle in this action-horror. Compared to some of the other entries it may not be the most shocking, but thanks to the films pace it remains one of the more entertaining entries in the cannibal sub-genre. If they are not being attacked by a local cannibal tribe, there is an array of vicious predators in the jungle who are just as dangerous including; a cobra, crocodile and a giant python.

Compared to some of the other cannibal films such as Cannibal Ferox (1981), the level of violence in the film does not have the same shocking levels of gore, although there are still several moments in the which justifies its inclusion on the original video nasties list. A brutal genital castration instantly comes to mind, which subsequently become a reoccurring theme within the cannibal genre.

As with most of the cannibal films at the time there seemed to be a thirst for blood and even though they could only kill the actors on screen with some realistic special effects, but when it came to the killing the animals they were not so considerate. This is the longest cut you can get of the film you can get in the UK, but due to the extreme nature of the footage the film still has two minutes of animal cruelty removed before the film. This comes as no surprise as these scenes would have been rejected by the BBFC, but with that said I am still surprised at how much footage has been included in the latest release. One such scene involves a live lizard which is ripped apart during a ritual, before its insides are consumes raw by the locals. Knowing scenes such as these are real makes it quite disturbing to watch, as it is no longer just fiction on the screen. It is surprising how much has now been passed and the changes in attitude from the BBFC. Personally, I don’t think the additional animal scenes are necessary for the enjoyment of the film and this will probably only concern the hardcore completist who prefer to see the film in its entirety.

Surprisingly the most bizarre and in some ways most disturbing moment for me is not of an animal being slaughtered, but an unnecessary drawn out scene which involves bestiality with a pig. During a spontaneous sexual frenzy scene where the tribe seem unable to contain themselves, one of the tribesman find himself alone and decides to rape a pig. I can understand they want to try and push the boundaries of the film, but this does seem excessive even for an exploitation film.

The most bizarre and in some ways most disturbing moment for me however, is not of an animal being slaughtered. In fact, he barely seems bothered as he continues to eat, but during a sexual frenzy by the tribe, one of the tribesman find himself alone and unable to contain himself and decides to rape a pig. I can understand they want to try and push the boundaries of the film, but to include a drawn-out scene of bestiality with a pig felt unnecessary.

The performances in the film are actually quite good with Stacy Keach and Ursula Andress seeming to take to their roles rather seriously. Stacy Keach plays the hardened explorer who remains unphased by the various dangers in the jungle and seems to deal with every situation with a cool composure. With his performance he probably felt that the film would excepted more as action film, rather than a controversial exploitation movie.

Ursula Andress despite her stereotypical clumsiness at times actually plays a strong lead, although you can see why she was cast in the marketing. From her sexual allurement which Bond fans will recall from the beaches in Dr No (1962), to the full-frontal nudity which the front cover artwork replicates, as she is stripped down and washed in muddy water. Ursula’s most entertaining moment however are when she finds herself in danger partly due to her clumsy nature, which sees her facing a poisonous spider or a giant python. It is in these moments where you could also agree with Edward Fosters sexist comment which he makes to Susan when she says she wants to enter the jungle, “It’s hard enough for a man, for a woman it would be really impossible”.

The new transfer of the film is amazing and for those who have previously watch the film on VHS tapes or a mutilated VIPCO transfer should be looking to upgrade.

Shameless have managed to deliver again with a breath taking 2k restoration of The Mountain of the Cannibal God, showing just how well a film can be upgraded 40 years later. The image is crisp and clear, so the shots of the jungle look stunning. I like to watch the films as they were originally intended, but once you see the new transfer all previous versions seem irrelevant, so anyone with those VHS tapes or a mutilated VIPCO transfers should be looking to finally upgrade.

The cannibal sub-genre may not be to everyone’s taste, but for those who are interesting in the extreme cinema or fans of the video nasties will want to have this in their collection. It may not have the social commentary of Cannibal Holocaust or the extreme violence of Cannibal Ferox, but the film is memorable enough to make it stand out on its own in the genre and as is definitely one of the most enjoyable.

The Mountain of the Cannibal God is out now on Blu-ray from Shameless Films.

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