The Daily Grindhouse: Cannibal Ferox aka Make Them Die Slowly (dir. by Umberto Lenzi)

It’s time we got back to another edition of “The Daily Grindhouse” and this time we go into the lovely and wholesome fun that was the European cannibal subgenre which became popular from the mid-1970’s right up to the early 1980’s. The granddaddy and best of this subgenre will forever be Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust. That film help bring about the flood of cheap copies and knock-offs with each one trying to one-up Deodato’s masterpiece by amping up the violence and gore to try and get banned in as many countries as possible. One of these knock-off’s is Umberto Lenzi’s Cannibal Ferox aka Make Them Die Slowly.

It stars one of the heavyweights of Italian exploitation and grindhouse in Giovanni Lombardo Radice. It pretty much borrows part of the plot of Cannibal Holocaust then adds in a liberal helping of drug-dealers, mobsters and emeralds. Lenzi’s flick dumps the “found footage” style Deodato used for his film and instead goes a more traditional style. This lessens the impact of Lenzi’s film and definitely adds to fuel from critics and detractors who saw nothing of value in this film.

I wouldn’t say that Cannibal Ferox has no redeeming value whatsoever for it is an interesting flick. Gorehounds and lovers of this particular brand of grindhouse cinema have a special place in their heart for this flick with special mention going to the several kill sequences that occur throughout the film. Lead actor Radice gets the most elaborate and gruesome fate in this flick and I would say in most in the subgenre. No wonder in an interview years later he would regret ever filming this flick.

Oh yeah, Lenzi one up’s Deodato’s on-screen killing of a live turtle by doing a pig instead.

Like I said earlier, lovely and wholesome fun for the whole family.

12 responses to “The Daily Grindhouse: Cannibal Ferox aka Make Them Die Slowly (dir. by Umberto Lenzi)

  1. Sorry for chiming in again so soon after making everyone’s eyes glaze over for the past couple of days on the “Walking Dead” thread.

    Just wanted to say – People who hurt or kill animals for anything other than their own survival, especially for “entertainment”, are despicable. No excuse for what was done in those films.


      • Just to make clear, Giovanni Lombardo Radice has disavowed this film precisely because of the animal cruelty involved and he refused to take part in any of it. (That said, he also didn’t walk off the set either but I guess a paycheck is a paycheck.) Giovanni — or Johnny as I like to call him — recorded a commentary for the DVD release of this film in which he basically spends 90 minutes talking about how much he hates everything he sees playing out on the screen before him. Umberto Lenzi continues to defend this as one of his “greatest” films and has even gone so far as to attempt to compare it to a John Ford western.

        Also of note, the film reunites Johnny with his House on the Edge of the Park co-star and dance partner, Lorraine De Selle. It also features a really pointless cameo from the star of Cannibal Holocaust, Robert Kernan. At the time, Kernan was best known as an adult film performer but he has since gone on to become a fairly well-regarded character actor. Sam Raimi uses him all the time. 🙂


        • Yeah, I know from stuff I’ve read about behind the scenes stuff on the set it looked like Radice and Lenzi definitely had issues with each other. Though I think a lot of it came from Lenzi constantly egging on Radice about his performance. The way things went down it’s a shame there wasn’t anyone who filmed all of the conflict during the production the way someone did with Apocalypse Now.


  2. I was wondering if that moniker could have been inspired by a scene from one of his movies. Oh, wait a minute – it was Robert Kerman that had done the adult films…


    • Yes, Kerman was the pornographic actor. Though a few years back, someone tried to start a rumor that Johnny had been involved with some hardcore films as well but that rumor has been proven false. Believe me, i researched it to death b/c I was like — “pornographic movies starring Giovanni Lombardo Radice!? I am so there…” But no, there was no there to be at.


  3. Pingback: Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #30: The Adventures of Hercules (dir by Luigi Cozzi) | Through the Shattered Lens

  4. Pingback: The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Nightmare Beach, a.k.a. Welcome to Spring Break (dir by Harry Kirkpatrick and Umberto Lenzi) | Through the Shattered Lens

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