The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978)

The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978) movie poster

director Sergio Martino
viewed: 10/09/2015

The Mountain of the Cannibal God might just be the biggest budget movie from the “cannibal boom” heyday.  It features actual movie stars like Stacy Keach and Ursula Andress, and the production values are miles above other films from the period.  If you think that this means that the film is going to be tamer or less exploitative than others, well,…it’s not.

Shot in Sri Lanka which is doubling for New Guinea, Mountain‘s racist exploitation is not of South American indigenous peoples but rather South Pacific indigenous peoples.  Like other cannibal films of its period, it features a good deal of real life animal snuff, including the gutting of a monitor lizard and most upsettingly, a monkey eaten alive by a large snake.  As off-putting as real life animal torture or mutilation might be, that aspect is a true hallmark of the genre and period.  For as gruesome and disturbing as it is, it is also extremely effective in heightening the faked gore of the film and accentuating the notion of nature’s inherent violence, of killing and eating as horrible but natural, suggesting something similar about cannibalism in man.

The Mountain of the Cannibal God is a much better produced film than any others of the period that I’ve seen.  Does it make it a better movie overall?  It’s got a lot more story going for it and Stacy Keach is actually pretty good as the troubled outdoorsman who leads Andress and her brother Arthur (Antonio Marsina) into the jungle in search of Angress’s lost husband.

As the movie lurches into its final half hour, director Sergio Martino unleashes the film’s goriest moments and its most gob-smacking shocks.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) rightly earned its place as the ultimate cannibal exploitation film, but The Mountain of the Cannibal God might actually be the best made film of the period.

Oh, yeah, one last thing, most outrageous moment:  Stacey Keach is recalling his traumatizing life with the cannibal tribe, being forced to eat human flesh, something that he cannot get over.  Then he suggests the one way to deal with his trauma is to head back and kill the entire tribe, to which his companion nods his head and agrees.  It’s just a moment but it’s highly insane: therapy through genocide.  Yeah.  Right.

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