❉ Iain MacLeod reviews 88 Films’ latest Blu-Ray from the dying days of the Italian horror scene.
Italian rip-off cinema raises its cheeky head once again with this hi-def release that hails from the dying days of the once mighty Italian horror scene. Sharing its title but nothing else with Eli Roth’s own homage to Italian cannibal flicks this also goes by the titles Natura Contra and quite misleadingly Cannibal Holocaust 2. Misleading in that Italian way in that the industry would make unofficial sequels to international hits; Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters originally released in its home country as Zombi 2, a “sequel” to Dawn of the Dead, aka Zombi! And who can forget the release of Ciro Ippolito’s Alien 2: On Earth, the classic feature that took the franchise to new heights by setting it in the ‘80s, on Earth, with psychic cave explorers? Guess what Cannibal Holocaust 2 has in common with its predecessor? Less. Than. Zero. Not to mention a distinct lack of cannibals throughout.
This is a film that eschews everything that its namesake is celebrated and despised for. The grimy cinema verité aesthetic and stomach-churning violence is replaced here with a bland adventure narrative that has no chance of approaching the infamous impact that Ruggero Deodato’s gut-munching video nasty still has in its ability to shock and disgust. The closest we get here is when a small fish tries to swim up a native’s bottom. Made in 1988, it also lacks any resemblance to any of the other Italian cannibal flicks that stuck out on the shelves of video libraries with their garish sleeves promising less than politically correct depictions of civilised man running into unparalleled savagery.
Detailing the quest for the missing Professor Korenz by journalist Gemma with the aid of her brainy, anthropologist friend Peter and his own friends Mark and Fred we are witness to an episodic journey through the Amazon jungle, after the easiest theft of a seaplane ever in the history of cinema. Along the way we encounter various indigenous tribes who all speak perfect English, gold hunters, child smugglers and lots and lots of monkeys. Light on plot it nevertheless contains some truly impressive location photography. However, director Antonio Climati fails to provide an interesting narrative, instead providing a flailing one that seems to have also been edited with the aid of a butter knife.
88 Films have released a disc that would only seem to be of interest to genre completists. The remastered picture is clean and highlights the location work nicely. Extras wise we are treated to a thirty-minute excerpt from the documentary Banned Alive: The Rise and Fall of the Italian Cannibal Film provides the flesh-eating content that is missing from the main feature. It is definitely the most interesting part of the package featuring interviews with the sub-genre’s trailblazing directors Deodato and Umberto Lenzi who detail the interesting origins behind it.
There really is not a lot to recommend here. Newcomers to the genre would be best served by avoiding it altogether whilst for aficionados it serves as a reminder of how the industry crafted such throwaway entertainment.
- Brand new 2K remaster from the original camera negative in 1.66:1 OAR
- Extensive clean-up and colour correction carried out in the UK
- Remastered uncompressed English audio
- Remastered uncompressed Italian audio with newly translated subtitles
- ‘Scenes From Banned Alive: The Rise and Fall of Italian Cannibal Movies’. Ruggero Deodato, Umberto Lenzi and Sergio Martino discuss their notorious cannibal films, including The Man From Deep River, Cannibal Ferox, Cannibal Holocaust and The Mountain of the Cannibal God
- Italian opening and closing credits
- Remastered trailer
❉ 88 Films released ‘The Green Inferno: Cannibal Holocaust 2’ on Blu-ray 11 March.
❉ Iain MacLeod was raised on the North coast of Scotland on a steady diet of 2000AD and Moviedrome. Now living in Glasgow as a struggling screenwriter he still buys too many comics and blu-rays. Has never seen a ghost but heard two talking in his bedroom when he was four.