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This film was made at the (short) height of the Italian cannibal genre:
With Jungle Holocaust by
Ruggero Deodato and Emanuelle
and the Last Cannibals by Joe D'Amato, two successful genre films
have just come out the previous year, and the genre has not yet fallen
prey to the sleaze merchants that were responsible for many (hilarious)
from only a couple of years later ... which meant that director Sergio
Martino could even get two name actors as the leads, even though
Ursula Andress - despite still having a great body as one could see in her
nude scenes - was definitely past her prime, while Stacy Keach's career
has not fully taken off in '78.
In style though, Mountain of the Cannibal God differs
significantly from its immediate predecessors: while Jungle
Holocaust went straight for violence and gore, and Emanuelle
and the Last Cannibals was highlighting the erotic aspects of the
genre (granted, there aren't many, but throw in Laura Gemser as that
intrepid reporter Emanuelle and there's always a bit of shagging going
on), this film is more a traditional adventure yarn, with a storyline that
goes pretty much through all the perils of the jungle and saves up the
cannibalism mainly to the last third.
But story first:
Susan (Ursula Andress) and her mischievous brother Arthur (Antonia
Marsina) are desperate to find her brother Henry, who has gone missing in
some particularly savage part of the jungles of New Guinea. So they turn
to Henry's friend and jungle guide professor Edward Foster (Stacy Keach),
who agrees to take them to what is known as the Mountain of the
Cannibal God (now that should be a warning sign), since he has a
secret agenda of his own: He was once a prisoner of the cannibal tribe
known as the Pukas who was only kept off the menu of the tribe because he
saved the chieftain's son. But while there, he was forced to eat human
flesh and his life has turned into a nightmare ever since ... so he
figured if he killed all the cannibals, his life will turn normal again.
Strangely enough Asaro (T.M.Munna), his right hand man, is one of the
Our little safari group isn't out in the jungle for long when all their
carriers are killed by some natives (of course it's the Pukas) and Asaro
mysteriously disappears. Then the Pukas even attacks, and it's only thanks
to Manolo (Claudio Cassinelli) from the nearby mission that they are
saved. At the mission they stay for a few days, but then the Pukas even
attack the mission and kill a girl, and Foster's leg is seriously injured
by none other than Asaro himself, whom Foster has always treated like a
son, but who, once back in his tribe's country, has decided to pledge
allegiance to the Pucas again ... ultimately, Foster is forced to shoot
Seeing the misfortune the strangers have brought to the mission, Father
Moses (Franco Fantasia) throws them all out, and now Susan and Arthur, the
seriously injured Foster and Manolo, whom Susan has persuaded to come
along, head straight into Puka country. Soon enough, Foster falls prey to
some rapids they have to climb, mainly because Arthur refuses to help him,
but once they are at their goal, Manolo has to realize he has been had:
Neither Susan nor Arthur really care for Henry's whereabouts, they just
care for the Uranium which can be found around here in no short supply.
Learning that, Manolo wants to leave them right away, but already too late
... the Pukas have found them, and immediately kill Arthur (for dinner, as
it will turn out), and taking the others prisoner. Manolo they tie up to
enrich their menu at a later date, but Susan they want to make their
goddess. You see, they worship Henry's corpse because they think his
constantly ticking Geiger-counter is his undying heart, and they have
found a photography of him and Susan ... so she must be goddess, no ?
Susan is stripped (yes), drugged (oh well) and forced to eat human flesh -
her own brother, no less - (oh no), and she is almost raped too - which
eventually leads to one of these disgusting castration scenes -, but
ultimately, Manolo can find a way to free himself, then he frees her and
in a shake they are out of cannibal country ...
As stated above, the storytelling of Mountain of the Cannibal God
is rather traditional, as Sergio Martino is a rather traditional - but at
times very effective - director. And as a (violent) jungle adventure, the
film is quite ok, if nothing special, and of course, for the cannibal
scenes and - even worse, because they are not special effects - the animal
killings one has to have the stomach.
The film pales though compared to Martino's earlier, superb giallos
(e.g. Torso, Your
Vice is a Locked Room and only I have the Key).