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Mangiati Vivi

Eaten Alive
Doomed to Die / Eaten Alive by the Cannibals / Eaten Alive from the Cannibals / Lebendig Gefressen / Emerald Jungle

Italy 1980
produced by
Luciano Martino, Mino Loy for Dania Film, National Cinematografica, Medusa Produzione
directed by Umberto Lenzi
starring Robert Kerman, Janet Agren, Ivan Rassimov, Paola Senatore, Me Me Lai, Mel Ferrer, Franco Coduti, Fiamma Maglione (as Mag Fleming), Franco Fantasia, Alfred Joseph Berry, Michele Schmiegelia
written by Umberto Lenzi, music by Robreto Donati, Fiamma Maglione

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Flix.com

Several murders happen in Manhattan and at the Niagara Falls that have one thing in common: they are all done by some Asian usinga blowpipe and poisoned darts - but unfortunately before this native can be captured and questioned, he is run over by a car.

Now there is only one clue for the police to go on, Sheila's (Janet Agren) sister Diane (Paola Senatore) ... thing is nobody knows where Diane really is. With the help of professor Carter (Mel Ferrer), Sheila does a bit of research though and finds out her sister is in New Guinea, with a sect, Brother Jonas' (Ivan Rassimov) Purification Sect.

That means of course Sheila has to go to New Guinea, and set out into the jungle to find the sect, accompanied by rough-edged and cynical but kind hearted jungle guide Mark (Robert Kerman) ... and even on the way to the sect's jungle hide-out, Mark and Sheila encounter cannibals. Somehow though they make it to Brother Jonas' jungle paradise, and they find Diane alive and well, but they also find out how highly perverted Jonas'  version of the paradise is: He keeps his followers in line by handing them drugs, keeps them from running away by having the camp situated in cannibal country, his guards, led by sadistic Karan (Franco Coduti), keep a close watch over his followers, and women he regards as his personal prey to be shagged at will.

Sheila is soon drugged into submission, but Mark makes an unsuccessful attempt to get away. Upon returning, he pledges allegiance to Jonas, but secretly he plots a getaway with Sheila, Diane and native girl Mowara (Me Me Lai, the pin-up girl of the cannibal genre, if there ever was one).

Finally, the moment of their escape has come, but Sheila has been highly drugged and constantly tries to escape the others and return to Jonas - and that with Jonas' guards behind them and the cannibals in front of them.

The unavoidable happens of course, Sheila breaks loose from the others and runs off, Mark after her, and the other two girls are captured by Karan and his men. But Karan has the bad idea to rape the two women right there on the spot instead of getting them out of cannibal country, and in the end the girls as well as Karan and his guards fall prey to the cannibals.

The effects of the drugs meanwhile wear off on Sheila, and she and Mark seem to make good their escape ... until they seem to be overrun by cannibals. It isn't until the last minute that some helicopters - somehow alarmed by professor Carter - show up and save them.

Jonas, hearing the helicopters approaching, hands out poison to his followers and has those killed who refuse to drink it, as he rather dies than goes to prison - but somehow, it seems that wiley devil manages to escape ...

Back in New York, Sheila has to admit she failed in her mission to save her sister, her tale about the cannibals is to be hushed up by the authorities, and she finds out she's penniless because her sister has given all their inheritance - quite a sum - to Jonas ... but at least she now has Mark on her side.

 


Flix.com

Occasionally, Mangiati Vivi is called a classic of the cannibal genre, and for some reason, it is perpetually re-released, which might be more than the film deserves. It's true that Umberto Lenzi started the cannibal genre with his film Il Paese del Sesso Selvaggio/Deep River Savages back in 1972, a well-done, violent adventure movie in which the actual cannibals played only second fiddle. By 1980 however, the genre was fully developed, thanks to films like Ultimo Mondo Cannibale/Jungle Holocaust/Last Cannibal World (1977) and Cannibal Holocaust (1980, both by Ruggero Deodato), Emanuelle e gli ultimi Cannibali/Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977, by Joe D'Amato) or La Montagna del Dio Cannibale/The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978, by Sergio Martino).

Actually, the cannibal genre was already past its prime, and one can't help but noticing it with this film (and even more so with Lenzi's cannibal movie from 1981, Cannibal Ferox): The plot is just too darn silly and too clichéd to convince anymore, there are plotholes aplenty, to come up with even more violence some real life animal-killings (either by natives or by other animals) are thrown into the film without any relation to the story, also a hefty portion of sleaze is added, and to top it all of, Lenzi tried to blend the standard cannibal formula with his version of the Jonestown Massacre, then a rather recent news item. Ah, and by the way, quite a few scenes from Deodato's Jungle Holocaust are bluntly re-used here, including Me Me Lai's rather graphic death scene, as well as portions of Lenzi's own Deep River Savages and Martino's The Mountain of the Cannibal God (the castration scene).

The outcome is pretty much as bad as you'd expect, but somehow, you might find the film unintentionally funny - provided you have got a strong stomach and are able to look through the not terribly convincing gore effects -, and you might even find this film enjoyable, if for all the wrong reasons. So maybe I'm wrong, maybe this is a classic of the genre after all ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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