Get Your Ferox Off

Thursday, August 2 2018
Get Your Ferox Off

It’s one of the most notorious of all the video nasties, a title whose name, like that of Driller Killer, The Last House On The Left and I Spit on Your Grave, as well as its Cannibal-titled similar titles, Apocalypse and Holocaust chief among them, and now it’s been given the full treatment from horror specialist Shameless.

We’re talking Cannibal Ferox, which follows hot on the heels of its recent Mountain Of The Cannibal God and the aforementioned Cannibal Holocaust, from the same imprint, released this week by the independent imprint and the latest horror classic to get its yellow box and matching sleeve treatment.

The label’s Garwin Spencer-Davison talked us through the restoration process, as well as the free sick bag, a promotional gimmick turned cracking free gift idea for the latest instalment in its ongoing attempts to almost singlehandedly revive the cannibal genre and reassess the slew of 1970s films that came under that banner.

Part of the problem, as outlined previously on The Raygun newsletter, has centred on the animal cruelty so prevalent in this genre. Much of the said footage was inserted at the insistence of producers who believed that these scenes were demanded by consumers and helped international sales.

But animal cruelty is a big no-no at the BBFC. Any independent label releasing classic titles will tell you of the problems they’ve had trying to get contentious material through, especially for older titles when there’s no proof that animals were not harmed.

As Spencer-Davison told us recently: “We did get Ruggero Deodato to re-edit – for the first and only time – a version of his Cannibal Holocaust where he voluntarily removed more than the BBFC required.

“What we did for Cannibal Holocaust was to use substitutions. We also used substitutions for both Mountain Of The Cannibal God and Cannibal Ferox so notwithstanding the BBFC animal cruelty ‘cuts’ the films actually run full duration and indeed we reinserted previously cut scenes to Mountain Of The Cannibal God. These are completely gratuitous sex scenes, previously cut in UK. Shameless is releasing the full-gore and full-sex but substituting the more unnecessary animal cruelty scenes – especially those which have no relevance to the story but were added on order of the producers in order to increase sales to certain territories (as is revealed in the film extras). The substitutions therefore result in the films being presented in their full (native) duration.”

For Ferox, as well as BBFC issues, there was also restoration to be handled, and the sick bags.

So here, in full, is Spencer Garwin-Davison on Cannibal Ferox…

“We’ve had a very positive pre-release thumbs up across the internet and also for the Shameless sleeve art which we’re indeed very pleased with.

“The first pressing of this numbered edition will also contain the obligatory ‘barf bag’ – this being one of the most sickening film ever!

“As it turns out, we delivered the first 1,000 batch to trade and we’ve already been asked to reprint –  even before the release date.

“The Shameless release is unique because we’ve kept it as close to the bone as possible: we started from a 2K scan of the original camera negative (which looked green… Green Inferno green!)

“We restored it keeping the restoration to match, and actually revive, the original edgy look of the 16MM film stock it was shot on. We used period lab notes as guide and reference. (Technical note: Cannibal Ferox was filmed in the Amazonian jungle. To keep the shoot manageable, small 16mm cameras were used so the resulting quality of the source material is that of 16mm film stock – which has an aspect ratio of 1:33:1 [like old TV screens] and a much smaller information area which is under a quarter of standard 35mm film. After editing the film was then blown up to 35mm for cinema distribution of the time.

The much smaller 16mm film format results in a noticeable grainy source which we have transfered onto digital media in the most neutral manner.)

“We were in fact mindful to reduce the distortions which over digital tampering has introduced in some other presentations where we found the resulting image actually shimmer with digital-sharpeners bling.

So in other words, we went against the grain by keeping the grain in this new restored (not so) Shameless presentation.

“We show this in one of the Extras: a comparison between unrestored 2K ‘DPX’ scanned file (of the nearly square ratio format 16MM the film was shot on) without colour correction or restoration compared with the restored, re-colour-graded picture which was re-framed in wide screen as intended by Ferox director Lenzi.

“In other Extras: we were fortunate enough to interview the notorious director Umberto Lenzi (unfortunately though it was most probably his last interview). Lenzi was generally an outspoken type of person in any event, and this time, off-camera he said to us: (paraphrasing) why don’t you guys for once actually keep what I say even if it’s a bit blunt.

“So we respected his warts and all words in the interview which come with the disc, where he’s pretty scathing about the cynicism involved in the production of these exploitation films (which he confesses disliking).

“In another extra, we also interviewed Giovanni Lombardo Radice aka John Morgen who is equally outspoken about the the  senseless cruelty of the film and indeed its director.

“The fact is Cannibal Ferox, which led the original DPP’s Video Nasty list, really is so distasteful that its own makers denounce it as vile and irredeemably barbaric   .. Unlike say Shameless’s Cannibal Holocaust which is less excessively gross (though more uncomfortably realistic in fact).

“The vomit bags included with the discs were actually hand printed (!) with the statement: ‘Cannibal Ferox is very nasty. Shameless and its representatives do not condone it, and decline any responsibility for upset – leading to moral panic or involuntary expulsion from viewers’ stomach’.”

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