Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

March 4, 2012

Movie Review: White Slave (aka Schiave bianche: violenza in Amazzonia, 1985)

Directed by Mario Gariazzo

Reviewed by Greg Goodsell

In a Brazilian courtroom, wealthy teenage heiress Catherine Armstrong (Elvire Audray) tells of her tale of woe. Vacationing with her parents on her 18th birthday, her family is boating on the Amazon River when her mother and father are gorily dispatched by blow darts. Their ship is overrun by a fierce tribe of Amazonian headhunters, more clean-cut than your average varsity basketball team, all wearing nylon/polyester orange loincloths. Chopping off the heads of Catherine’s parents to keep as trophies, they march the birthday girl through the jungle to their tribal compound. Stripping her of her clothes and dignity, the tribesmen attune Catherine to their savage ways. Weeks turn to months, and after a year Catherine has fallen head over heels in love with the man (Will Gonzales) who decapitated her parents! It is only after a year in the tribe that Catherine learns who the true killers of her family were. (The nonsensical story does explain how two characters at the beginning of the story suddenly disappeared without reason, but little else.) Vengeance on her mind, she paddles across a small pond to civilization – and heads roll.

A late entry in Italy’s “Ooga booga” jungle jive series, White Slave commands a newfound respect for such despicable projects as Cannibal Holocaust (1981). Contrast and compare this film’s model-perfect jungle savages with radiant Pepsodent smiles to the subhuman monsters with rotting fangs in Make Them Die Slowly (1980) and you’ll agree that little things do mean a lot.

Central to White Slave’s credibility issues is the non-performance from female lead Elvire Audray. Looking towards the camera with disdain and haughty indifference, it seems that Audray was offered the lead in a teenage beach musical that was switched out at the last minute for a Third World Cannibal film. One can almost hear the greasy producers whispering in Audray’s ear on the first day of filming, “This type of film is all the rage, sweetheart! Think of your career!”

In spite of – or precisely because of this – White Slave is a surprisingly enjoyable and entertaining picture. Quite unlike most films of this ilk, White Slave’s most improbable plot, attractive cast and gorgeous location photography all combine together for a delightfully stupid night at the movies. It is by far the most untrue movie “ever based on a true story,” ever. Faux documentary footage stapled in towards the end of the film, in a last minute attempt to recapture the chills found in Cannibal Holocaust is most unconvincing.

Part of Charles Bands’ Grindhouse Collection, the disc has trailers for other Charles Band features in attention to an introduction by Band, recalling his days as an exploitation filmmaker in lieu of straight-to-DVD Puppetmaster movies.

No comments:

Post a Comment