MANGIATI VIVI: The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978)

Also known as La Montagna del Dio CannibaleSlave of the Cannibal God and Prisoner of the Cannibal God, don’t be fooled by the pedigree of having big stars like Ursula Andress and Stacy Keach. This film may seem restrained at first, but it goes absolutely insane by the final ten minutes. I mean, when has Sergio Martino (All the Colors of the DarkYour Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key) ever steered us wrong?

Susan Stevenson (Andress, the original Bond girl) is looking for her husband Henry, an anthropologist who has gone missing in the jungles of New Guinea. Along with her brother Arthur and Professor Edward Foster (Keach), they travel to the mountain Ra Ra Me, a cursed place where the authorities will not allow expeditions.

Of course, they go there. What did you expect? They’re stupid white people. The jungle thanks them with attacks from spiders, snakes and alligators. And then Manolo (Claudio Cassinelli, What Have They Done to Your Daughters?), a jungle guide, joins their party.

Bad idea. Arthur has sex with one of the native girls, who is already married, but a cannibal attacks and kills both the husband and wife. A missionary makes them leave, as they have brought nothing but sin, adultery and death to his village. Don’t fuck in the woods. And don’t bring your Western values to the jungle.

It turns out that none of their reasons for coming to the island are altruistic. Susan and Arthur have no interest in finding her husband, but are instead looking for uranium deposits. Foster is there just to find the tribe of cannibals who had taken him captive in the past so he can wipe them off the face of the earth.

On the way, a waterfall takes Foster after Arthur doesn’t save him. And they reach the mountain, which isn’t just a uranium mine. It’s made from uranium. And how do we know that? Well, Susan’s husband’s body is being worshipped as a god because the Geiger counter he had keeps ticking, like a heartbeat.

At this point, the film rewards you by going completely off the rails, descending into chaos. A native attacks Susan, but is stopped by the tribe and castrated, then his penis is cooked and eaten. Another villager has sex with a giant pig. Meanwhile, the drums build in a hypnotic rhythm as another female villager masturbates (this is from the “director’s special selection” version, there are several cuts of the film). As this happens, Susan is stripped and smeared with orange honey by two naked female cannibals before being fed her own brother. Manolo is tortured. It feels like a nightmare you can’t wake up from, one of the only moments where the Martino who delivered a quick succession of giallo a decade or so before rears his artistic head.

Then, it’s over, with Manolo and Susan escaping. I mean, one would think that there would be years of therapy after this. But I don’t know. Perhaps she can get over this easier than most.

This isn’t a great movie. It might not even be good. It is entertaining for the last section, but there’s also the problematic issue of animal torture in the film — a monkey is slowly eaten by a snake and lizard being cut apart. Martino claims he tacked on these scenes at the distributor’s insistence. I guess the cannibal audience — an outgrowth of the audience for mondo films — needed more than just Ursula’s breasts and a dummy of Keach getting killed for their kicks.

If you have Shudder, you can watch this movie right now. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!

10 thoughts on “MANGIATI VIVI: The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978)

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