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April 21, 2012

Movie Review: Make Them Die Slowly (1981)

Directed by Umberto Lenzi
Starring Giovanni Radice, Lorraine De Sella and Danilo Mattei

Along with the film Cannibal Holocaust, Make Them Die Slowly, (aka: Cannibal Ferox) was among the first of the notorious Italian exploitation/jungle cannibal movies. Now considered by many, including myself, to be classics of the trash-cinema genre, they weren't very well received during their initial run. Upon its release, the film made claims to being “The most violent film ever made” and boasted of being banned in 31 countries and although that seems a bit dubious, the figure has been quoted in the Guinness Book of Records.

Plot-wise, the story mimics its counterpart, Cannibal Holocaust, almost step for step minus a few tweaks here and there. We have a party of good intentioned Americans traveling into the Amazonian jungle to try and disprove the existence of cannibalism once and for all. As they begin to penetrate the dark heart of the jungle they are forced to abandon their jeep and continue their trek on foot. Soon afterward they bump into a couple of shady characters who claim to be emerald prospectors who have escaped the clutches of a sadistic tribe of flesh eaters. Now on the run, they soon find themselves back in the natives village and the Americans then discover the story they were told is far from the truth. The prospectors it seems, were terrorizing and torturing the tribe members in an effort to get their hands on gem stones and even convince one of the American girls to get in on the action in a botched rape attempt of one of the village girls which ends with the native girl being shot and killed. At this point, the natives have had their fill of the abuse and decide to rid themselves of the foreigners, guilty and innocent alike.

Personally, I didn't find this movie quite as shocking as Cannibal Holocaust, it has a slightly different feel to it. Due mostly, I think, to the soundtrack. It was a mix of epic disco, (yeah, I just used those two words in the same sentence) and synthesizer funk which helped to keep me from taking it all too seriously. And although the movie was just a tad slow at times, the soundtrack alone was enough to keep me glued to my seat and groovin' to the beat. It took about an hour to get to the stuff you'd expect to see in a movie of this type but when it comes, it delivers. And it's not called an exploitation movie for nothing, your gonna get your sex scenes, genital mutilation, dismemberment and of course... cannibalism! Most of the effects are surprisingly good considering the low budget, especially the beheading scene near the end, enhanced by the fact that as soon as the native chops the guys heads off, he reaches into his skull and starts feasting on the dudes gray-matter, (shocking, but fun stuff).

The first time I saw this film was in 1985 in VHS format and the film quality was absolute trash. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the DVD release through CHEEZY FLICKS has a great restoration done to it, its not perfect but that was to my liking, you still need somewhat of a grainy feel to these kind of movies to appreciate them for what they are. Most consider them garbage, but there are lots of us out there who adore these films and its great to see a distributor like CHEEZY FLICKS dusting off the cobwebs and bringing this stuff back into the mainstream so that hopefully, a new generation of horror fans can get a shot at seeing these obscure gems from days-gone-by.

Along with the feature on this disc, we are treated to a couple of “grind-house style” PSAs. One features Julie Andrews doing a monologue on decency ratings in the film industry (irony) and the other is a hilarious and disturbing drive-in theater advertisement for some type of car heater. You pull into your spot at the drive-in and attached to the speaker-pole is a dangerous looking device that hooks to the inside of your window, attached to a propane tank. You are encouraged to roll all the windows up to fully enjoy the comforting heat it will emit. These PSAs alone are worth the price of this DVD, but that's not all you get! There are a glorious 9 minutes of trailers featuring some of the most notorious and worst movies ever made, all available through CHEEZY FLICKS. Among them are Black Beard the Pirate, Billy the Kid vs Dracula, Day of the Triffids and Jesse James meets Frankensteins Daughter.

This one is a complete win all the way around, and with a retail price of $4.99 through the CHEEZY FLICKS website, you cant go wrong picking this one up. Its a no-brainer.

7.5 out of 10 Reviewed by KennyB

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