Color, 1988, 90 mins. 40 secs.
Directed by Antonio Climati
Starring Marco Merlo, Fabrizio Merlo, May Deseligny, Pio Maria Federici, Roberto Ricci 88 Films (Blu-ray) (UK R0 HD) / WS (1.66:1) (16:9), Vipco (DVD) (UK R2 PAL)
It was inevitable that someone would come up with the idea of calling a movie Cannibal Holocaust II despite the legal and censorship hassles that befell Ruggero Deodato's notorious original film, and sure enough, multiple films were being slapped with alternate titles to try to pass them off as sequels to that extreme horror classic. Among these is one of the last of the golden age cycle, Green Inferno (no relation to the later Eli Roth film), also shown in Italy as Paradiso infernale and never given an official U.S. release of any kind. In the U.K. it was slightly edited at first on DVD in 2002 (removing a shot of a monkey getting hit with a tranquilizer dart), but now it can be seen in its entirety -- which actually isn't all that shocking since there's no animal death to be found. As a whole the film is about on par with most late '80s Italian exploitation output, which means you get a ridiculous, sax-heavy music score, a lot of anonymous actors, sloppier dubbing than usual, and loopy plotting. In short, break out the beer for this one.
When he gets a tip that the long missing Professor Korenz (Ricci) is alive and well somewhere in the Amazon, Pete (Federici) decides to recruit his buddies, Fred (co-writer Marco Merlo) and Mark (Fabrizio Merlo), to swipe a charter plane to investigate. (It's not stealing but rather borrowing since it's "for a good cause.") Upon arrival they hook up with his tipster, Jemma (Deseligny), and recruit a native guide to get them deep into the jungle where ruthless smugglers are intent on wiping out an indigenous tribe. They also get to wrestle snakes, wallow in mud, and dodge carnivorous fish that wriggle up people's butts. As it turns out there's no cannibalism in sight, but you do get some gore including a variation on the spring-loaded booby traps from Cannibal Ferox just for fun.
As you can probably guess, this is a film for which you really need to calibrate your expectations given its grouping with far more extreme Italian cannibal offerings, themselves descendent's from the already dubious mondo subgenre. This is more of a straight-up jungle adventure film with a sunnier, more humanist tone than you'd likely expect and definitely more genteel than even later offerings like Deodato's Cut and Run. That's actually surprising given that this is the handiwork of Antonio Climati, cinematographer of the infamous Jacopetti and Prosperi mondo films and director of the grueling Savage Man Savage Beast and This Violent World. This would prove to be his final film as a director, certainly an odd choice for a swan song, though he did stick around for another year to shoot Welcome to Spring Break and the delirious Primal Rage.
In 2019, U.K. label 88 Films issued the uncut film on Blu-ray complete with a limited o-card slipcase on the first pressing, along with a limited insert booklet featuring liner notes by Francesco Massaccesi. The transfer is credited as a new 2K one from the original camera negative, retaining the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio with "extensive cleanup and color correction carried out in the U.K." Needless to say, this is the best the film has ever looked; it's not exactly a visual stunner given the heavy use of dull shades of brown and green throughout, but it appears to be accurate to the source and makes for a pleasant viewing experience. Audio options include English and Italian LPCM 2.0 mono with optional English subtitles (translated from the Italian); neither track matches lip movements or sounds remotely authentic, so most will likely find much more amusement in the English dub. It's nice to have the choice though. A sampling of interviews from Banned Alive! The Rise and Fall of the Italian Cannibal Movie(30m25s) by Eugenio Ercolani and Giuliano Emanuele is an overview with Umberto Lenzi, Sergio Martino and Ruggero Deodato laying the groundwork for the craze with discussions about the creation of titles likeMan from Deep River,Cannibal Holocaust, andSlave of the Cannibal God for very little money in the wake of the mondo movie craze. The Italian opening and closing credits (3m21s) are also included (pretty much identical to what's in the English version apart from the obvious language difference) along with a newly created version of the English trailer. In addition to the aforementioned liner notes, the disc also comes with reversible sleeve options including English and Italian promotional art.