70 - Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985)
The Cannibal movie is a disgusting sub-genre in exploitation film that was no more than an excuse to show excessive gore and provide shock value from lesser-known foreign cultures. It's a relic of the past (except if your Eli Roth) and something that cinema should be glad to have left behind.
Mostly made by Italian filmmakers and portraying savage civilizations in Asia or South America, the cannibal genre has it's roots all the way back in the 1940's with the Tarzan series. The genre of cannibal film as we know it most likely started as a result of 1965's The Naked Prey which is about a white guy being chased by natives after offending them.
Umberto Lenzi's 1972 film Man From Deep River (called Sacrifice! in the US) was probably the most influential in creating the cannibal craze of the 70's and 80's where dozens of these movies were made. None of them were original, they all followed the same basic format - someone (typically a photographer or film crew) would go into the jungle and be captured by a group cannibals and lots of gore and blood would follow.
Audiences were interested because these movies provided cheap thrills, disgusting images, and a glimpse of the unknown. The thought of journeying into untouched fronteirs has always fascinated Western Cultures and turning those National Geographic articles into a horror movie was a novel concept.
The most notorious of all the Cannibal Films is undoubedtly 1980's Cannibal Holocaust made by Ruggero Deodato. It's a terrible movie but it's remebered for it's excessive violence, murdering of actual animals onscreen (including a tortoise) and the infamous court cases that followed. People unfamiliar with exploitation films know about Cannibal Holocaust as it's infamy has gained it mainstream attention but it might be one of the worst films in an already horrible genre.
So why Massacre in Dinosaur Valley? If we hate cannibal films on this podcast why would we even bother covering one? Simply put, we have to. If we are going to have a podcast about exploitation movies than we need to include one of the most prolific sub-genres there is. But why this movie in particular?
It's a cannibal film that tries not to be a cannibal film. It's one of the oddest movies I've ever and it's clear that the filmmakers had no intention of making a cannibal film; they were forced to. Every character in this movie feels like they are auditioning to be in their own spinoff film. It's a random assortment of characters that are forced together by a bad decision and their interactions are much more interesting than the "plot" that surrounds them.
There is actually very little violence in the movie and only a small sequence that includes cannibals. It's almost an after thought in a movie that was designed to be a jungle adventure movie. Most of the films we cover on this podcast fail to have any sort of compelling plot, this one has too many! What starts out as a story about a guy hunting for dinosaur fossils becomes a movie about running away from cannibals and finally becomes a movie about breaking free from a white slaver who makes his home in the jungle. Including all of this in 80 minutes makes for a dizzying experience but it's certainly enjoyable.
Massacre in Dinosaur Valley is a real hidden gem in the exploitation genre. It's exactly what you would expect to see from a movie like this and it's a much better example of what these films have to offer than Cannibal Holocaust. It's worth tracking down a copy if your a fan of the genre - which we assume you are.