Sunday, March 15, 2009

Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals

Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals posterThe 1977 soft-porn horror flick Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals begins in an American insane asylum with the plot’s heroine Emanuelle (Laura Gemser), a star journalist posing as a crazy woman on the female ward in order to get the exclusive story about the young, white cannibal girl from the Amazon who had just arrived. The first scene’s slow survey of the ward’s inhabitants is abruptly interrupted by a nurse, half-dressed, running down the hall screaming. The bloody stump that was her right breast is shown quite graphically as the orderlies blatantly explain that such a vicious act was the work of the new cannibal patient, whom they try to restrain with a straight jacket as she munches on a chunk of flesh in the corner of the room. That night, Emanuelle sneaks into the cannibal’s room and attempts to ask her some questions. When the girl becomes frightened, Emanuelle displays her unusual methods of journalism by reaching under the girl’s skirt and pleasuring her to calm her down. While doing this, Emanuelle notices a tribal tattoo on the girl’s midriff and proceeds to snap a photo of this “white child raised by a wild tribe of the Amazon” to bring back to her editor. The next day, Emanuelle is sent by her editor to Professor Mark Lester (Gabriele Tinti), a leading expert on cannibalistic tribes. The pair watch documentaries on tribal customs, plan an expedition to the Amazon to study the girl’s near-extinct tribe of Apiaca cannibals, and then indulge in a session of wild sex (which was obviously well-deserved after such difficult research).

The following day, despite warnings from co-workers of the dangers they may encounter, Emanuelle and Mark jet off to the Amazon. They meet with Mark’s old friends, who are part of a religious organization, and decide to bring Sister Angela and an acquaintance named Isabel on their journey to the organization’s Mission, located deep in the jungle. The night before the group departs, Isabel spies Emanuelle and Mark having sex and as a result proceeds to touch herself. The next day she tells Emanuelle that she had seen them and the three then begin exchanging sly sexual glances while traveling up the Amazon River in a motorboat. When the expedition stops to make camp, Emanuelle has a close-encounter with a snake, but is saved by avid hunter Donald McKenzie who miraculously appears without a moment to spare. He advises that the group join his camp set-up, with his wife Maggie, native assistant Salvador, and several others, because the cannibals had massacred everyone at the Mission. It is soon realized that Maggie is not completely faithful to Donald as she sneaks off with Salvador into the jungle. Donald secretly spies them together, but when he confronts Maggie as a tramp, she calls him impotent and the fight apparently dissolves. Mark gets nervous about being out in the jungle with the cannibals and Donald steadfastly refuses to go back to civilization with them, up until a half-eaten body is found on the beach by their boat. He then whispers to Maggie that they’ll travel with the group to safety and then continue the search. What they are searching for remains a mystery.

Their escape route proves dangerous when Angela ventures into the bush to relieve herself and is captured by the cannibals. Her naked body is then ripped apart as her search party can only listen to the blood-curdling screams. The next day when Donald is supposed to be keeping watch, he and Maggie slip off into the jungle to finally find the site of a small plane crash, the one which they had been searching for. They uncover a case with two small, leather pouches full of diamonds. Donald then apparently overcomes his impotency as they immediately have celebratory sex on the jungle floor. The cannibals take this chance to wound Donald and carry Maggie away. The rest of the group then comes to Donald’s rescue, salvages a blow-up boat and some flares from the plane crash, and sets off towards the cannibals’ island. The rescue mission splits into two groups and soon Emanuelle and Mark look on from the trees as Salvador is killed and Isabel and Donald are taken hostage. The final scene takes a turn for the worst as the nauseating cannibalism continues. Isabel is quickly drugged, while Maggie is gouged in the genitalia and the cannibals ravenously pull out her insides. Donald, who is already faint with what he has witnessed, is then sliced in half by the pulling of a taut rope around his waist. Watching from the trees, Mark quietly explains to Emanuelle that what they are witnessing is probably the annual Feast of Fertility on the full moon, and the tribe will use Isabel as their pregnant sacrifice to the Goddess of the Waters. Just as Emanuelle interjects that Isabel isn’t pregnant, the first of the cannibals has his way with Isabel’s drugged body. Unable to watch the succession of rape, Emanuelle and Mark sneak away to the river where Emanuelle gets the idea to paint the tribe’s tattoo on her belly and then rise naked from the water just as the cannibals are about to sacrifice Isabel on the sacrificial stone at the water’s edge. The plan works perfectly and Emanuelle ushers Isabel to the safety of the water in front of the astonished cannibals. But as the women begin to swim hurriedly away, the tribe becomes wise and chases after them in canoes. Tension mounts as Mark tries in vain to start the motorboat and the cannibals paddle closer, but the motor soon roars to life and the three foreigners speed away. Now out of harm's way, Emanuelle takes a moment to ponder the events and the carnage of the last few days, and realizes with dismay that a journalist will do almost anything for a story.

Stemming from the fact that this genre of film is a blemish on the face of the movie industry, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals certainly doesn’t do much in terms of promoting the Amazon as a tourist destination. From quicksand to cannibals to poisonous animals, the characters encounter at every turn the dangers which they’ve been warned about. The film portrays the all-male tribe as mindless and flesh-obsessed, and gives them the erroneous title of ‘the last cannibals’. Emanuelle’s editor continues this inaccuracy by classifying the cannibals’ traditional tattoo as Aztec; even though the Aztec Empire was located in Central America, not Brazil. It is also left hanging as to why the blonde, white woman from the first scene would have been raised in the care of such flesh-eating men. Such blunders make the statement: “True story as reported by Jennifer O’Sullivan”, which appears in the beginning credits, laughable. Perhaps Miss O’Sullivan had been actively indulging in opana, the same narcotic that allegedly triggered the tribe’s cannibalistic nature, when she reported such an account.

Labels: ,