To be a Video Nasty, a film must first be a nasty video, meaning, if it was never released on Video in the UK, it couldn't successfully be Banned in the UK as a Video Nasty. In addition to this, and to breaking a great many rules set out by England's Video Recordings Act of 1984 (itself derived from the Obscene Publications Act 1959), a film had to be successfully prosecuted in her Majesty's courts. As the BBFC and the DPP Classified, Censored and prosecuted an entire boat-load of films, this one, Ultimo mondo cannibale (AKA: Last Cannibal World) was more than certainly among those seized, investigated and dissected
To be sure, Ultimo mondo cannibale contains more than its fair share of elements that managed to get tamer films banned on that notorious list. Often, some researchers even make the mistake of including this film on the list of Video Nasties, as this one was closely associated with those films.
However, Last Cannibal World is not a Video Nasty. Although the BBFC demanded a series of cuts for its theatrical release, they didn't have purview over video tapes until the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association (NVALA) took their lobbying steps to make it happen. Therefore the UK video release was uncut, hence "obscene", hence seized. However, it was never successfully prosecuted and missed its inclusion on the list by a hair's breadth, in spite of its content. And this one's got it all. From sexualized violence to human excretory functions to animal cruelty (including scenes of actual animals being killed) and all manner of other horrors. What can I say? O.J. was found not guilty too.
Still, for all its controversy, Last Cannibal World, as a film, is nothing monumental. This one is shocking (if you haven't already seen a whole shelob shebang of more shocking cannibal exploitation flicks, that is) and manages to be scary, occasionally convincingly gory and... well, it features yet another constantly nude performance from one Me Me Lai.
Folks, for those of you unfamiliar with the name Me Me Lai, she's worth sitting through any experience in grueling drudgery, just to see her face, let alone everything else.
On the other hand, Last Cannibal World is just another in a series of similar flicks that work toward shocking the audience with revolting rituals and the consumption of raw animal organs (that purport, in the film, to be human). It's also another in a long series of films that liberally rip off A Man Called Horse. Well, to be fair, director Ruggero Deodato and his writing staff (consisting of Renzo Genta, Giorgio Carlo Rossi, Tito Capri and Gianfranco Clerici) weren't really ripping off A Man Called Horse directly. They were ripping off The Man from Deep River, which directly ripped off A Man Called Horse. Okay, then!
Explorer Robert Harper (Massimo Foschi) and his amigo Rolf (Ivan Rassimov, star of The Man from Deep River) crash land their prop plane in the savage jungles of the Island of Mindanao (really Malaysia) en route to meeting up with a camp of their fellows. The camp is deserted and they (along with their team of Sheik Razak Shikur's Charlie and Judy Rosly's Swan) are soon preyed upon by the indigenous Cannibal Tribes.
It isn't long before Robert is stripped naked, beaten, humiliated and hung up on a big ass rope in a garish experiment. Not only is this scene stolen from A Man Called Horse's violent hanging scene, but it's also to add an additional layer of rip off. Just as the Natives in A Man Called Horse believed ol' Morgan was horse-like, the native jackasses here are convinced that Bobby-boy is a Bird-Man, because they saw him flying around in his prop-plane.
The rest is pretty predictable if you've seen any similar film, though instead of directly going native as in many films that ape A Man Called Horse, Robert comes upon his savagery by necessity as he adopts the more violent and sexually bloodthirsty ways of his cannibal captors and begins to devolve in the name of survival.
Things really take off when he escapes with the help of the exceptionally beautiful Pulan (Me Me Lai). Let me tell you, if anything, Me Me is more beautiful in this movie than in Man from Deep River and Mangiati Vivi put together. Does it help that she's either merely topless or completely naked throughout the entire run time? It doesn't hurt, pilgrims, it doesn't hurt, but I mean it when I say, just her face is worth the whole film.
But I digress. This is the act in which Robert really becomes the true white savage as he out Herods Herod in the violent jungle. Of course, not only his actions would be classified as "Obscene" here. Seriously, after watching all of the Video Nasties, I can honestly tell you I'm pretty damned stunned that this managed to avoid being listed as one of them. There are several scenes of rape (alternated with, at least, violent sex), Robert is urinated upon by native children, his penis is fondled by the native adults and then there is the Animal Cruelty. Most disturbing in this case is the butchering of an alligator while it's still alive, but there are a whole series of other sick things done to the animal kingdom here that push far beyond the realm of good taste. Trust me, if you're an animal lover (of any kind), this probably isn't your film. And, yeah, I'm including birds, reptiles, fish and mammals in this group.
Then again, Deodato did push the limits even farther with his next Cannibal Exploitation flick, Cannibal Holocaust, now considered to be a masterpiece (or, at least, watershed moment) for the subgenre. In some ways Last Cannibal World (which has also been released as Jungle Holocaust) plays like a bridge between Man from Deep River and Cannibal Holocaust. In many ways this seems more like a prototype for Cannibal Holocaust, with Man from Deep River doubling as its framework.
But then again, this is a must for completes, fans of the genre and fans of Me Me Lai. In truth, with the exception of the far-too-extreme elements, Last Cannibal World could have been one hell of a jungle adventure film. There are some scenes of true horror here and some breathtaking landscape photography. It also manages to keep free from the "Campy" dimensions that have marred so many films that took themselves this seriously. This isn't a cheese fest, shlock fest though it may be. The squeamish may never want to see a worse film than this. The adventure fan, however, could do worse.
Taken for all with all, Ultimo Mondo Canibale is still a derivative rip-off in which exploitation easily beats out artistry. Its its shock value is far exceeded by its successor Cannibal Holocaust, and though it came close, this one stands as an also-ran in the history of the Video Nasties. Two Stars out of Five for Ultimo Mondo Canibale! Special thanks go to Me Me, of course. She's much more than a pretty face and a beautiful body. Her silent acting is among the best of the film and her character is the most successful in inspiring pathos in the viewer, especially when she chooses a new path, turns to her former brethren and (not-in-so-many-words) says "EAT ME!" It's too bad that this is such a dangerous thing to say to those guys. My, My, Me Me.
Who knows what Evil Lurks
In the Cannibal World?
THE GIALLO KNOWS!!!
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