JESS FRANCO MONTH: White Cannibal Queen (1980), Cannibal Terror (1981), Devil Hunter (1980)

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. This article originally ran on September 24, 2021.

Oh, call it what you will, you ol’ ’80s “Midnight Movie” and VHS-renting road dogs: Mondo CannibaleCannibal World, Cannibals, White Cannibal Queen, A Woman for the Cannibals, or Barbarian Goddess. All we known is that, once again, Jess Franco, casts himself as the patron saint of the video nasty, as he sticks his hands into the boiling native vats and fucks up a genre. While shooting, this soon-to-be U.K.-banned ditty was titled Rio Salvaje, aka Wild River, probably as an ersatz sequel to Umberto Lenzi’s 1972 progenitor, Man from Deep River. As if we’d be duped by a Franco joint.

White Cannibal Queen

Ah, the VHS clamshell sleeve I remember. Heaven.

On the plus side: Franco gives us the always welcomed Al Cliver (The Beyond) and Sabrina Siani (Conquest and The Throne of Fire). According to Franco, he did this movie and fellow cannibal romp Devil Hunter (1980) for the money and had no idea why anyone would enjoy these films. (Is it just me, or does Franco have a lot of those type of films in his career? He said the same thing about his NaziZom rip, Zombie Lake.) Franco also went on record that Sabrina Siani was the worst actress he ever worked with and that her only good quality was her “delectable derrière.”

Whatever, Jess. Pedophilic Pig.

However, to Franco’s credit, he does change it up a bit: Instead of looking for the usual lost tribes or oil, or whatever vegetable or mineral MacGuffin we need to steal from a peaceful native tribe to make a better life for the white man, our civilized man — with one arm, who lost it during the first expedition — returns to the jungle where he lost his family to rescue his now teenage daughter — who’s become the blonde white cannibal queen of the tribe.

Cannibal Terror

It’s another Jess Franco joint: it’s different, but the same.

Now, don’t let Jess Franco bamboozle you with Cannibal Terror, aka Terreur Cannibale (1981). While Franco penned the script, it’s actually a way-too-late French entry into the genre directed by Alaine Deruelle, and not a repack of White Cannibal Queen, aka Mondo Cannibale. But it does raid that Franco film for stock footage. As result, we see Sabrina Siani, the White Cannibal Queen, while not starring in the film, appearing in a bar scene (oops); several shots of the dancing cannibals from Franco’s film are redux, here; a background actor (said to have a distinctive, Mick Jagger-type face) appears in three roles, here: as two cannibals, a border guard, and a third cannibal eating Al Cliver’s wife; the guitar player at the bar, here, found Al Cliver after he had his arm cut off in White Cannibal Queen (oops).

White Cannibal Queen and Cannibal Terror also share actors Olivier Mathot and Antonio Mayans, both whom have starring roles, as well as porn actress Pamela Stanford, who has a major role in Cannibal Terror, but a support role in White Cannibal Queen by way of stock pillaging. The leading woman change up is Silvia Solar from Umberto Lenzi’s Eyeball (1975).

As far as the “plot” goes in the French remake/ripoff: Two criminals take their kidnapping victim to their partner’s jungle hideaway. The local cannibal tribe hunts them down one by one.

Devil Hunter

Where I have I seen you before? Oy! Another Jess Franco cannibal joint!

And don’t let Jess Franco hornswoggle you with Devil Hunter (1980), aka, Sexo Canibal, The Man Hunter, and Mandingo Manhunter, for he is director Clifford Brown and writer Julius Valery, incognito; his second wife, Lina Romay, co-directed, while his first wife, Nicole Guettard, edited.

And since Devil Hunter was shot back-to-back with White Cannibal Queen, Al Cliver returns in the leading hero role. And Antonio Mayans, from it’s-not-Franco’s-film-but-it-is Cannibal Terror, returns as Cliver’s co-star. The change up, here, is that Ursula Buchfellner, a German model who became Playboymagazine’s “Playmate of the Month” in October 1979, stars as our resident damsel-in-distress. Did you see the Euro-adult comedies Popcorn and Icecream (1979), Cola, Candy, Chololate (1979), and Hot Dogs in Ibiza (1979), and Jess Franco’s women-in-prison romp Hellhole Women, aka Sadomania (1981)? Well, now you know four more Ursula Buchfellner’s films than most (normal) people. Do you feel blessed by B&S?

As far as the “plot” goes, well, it’s pretty much a retread of Cannibal Terror: After the kidnapping by white bandits of a top model/actress (Buchfellner) on a jungle shoot/location scouting trip, an ex-Vietnam vet (Cliver) and his mercenary pal (Mayans) head into the deep jungle of the island nation to rescue her, not only from the kidnappers, but from cannibals who worship a “Devil God.” And (snickering) the “God” is a tall African dude with ping-pong eyes falling out of his head.

And get this: Jess Franco claims the makers of Predator stole their idea from this movie.

Whatever, Mr. Franco. Ye who commits celluloid theft, himself.

Needless to say: All of the stock footage padding from White Cannibal Queen and Cannibal Terror, along with the expected Franco-sleaze, and awful dubbing, is back — to lesser . . . and lesser effect. Wow, Jess, thanks for making White Cannibal Queen look even better than it’s allowed to be. But it does “splatter” nicely to make the U.K.’s “Video Nasties” list, which is the whole reason we’re reviewing this film this week for our “Video Nasties Week.”

So, there you go. Now you’re an educated Euro-cannibal flick consumer in-the-know that Cannibal Terror and Devil Hunter aren’t alternate titles to White Cannibal Queen, but three distinct — as distinct as a Franco joint can be — separate films . . . that are different, but the same. Sorta. Kinda. Oh, Franco!

But you know Franco: He’s a magnificent, maniacal bastard and we love him for it. What would our youth have been without Franco flicks and Venom tunes?

We did a whole week of cannibal films with our “Mangiati Vivi Week” tribute back in February 2018. You can also learn more about the genre with our review of the documentary Me Me Lai Bites Back (2021). And there’s more “nasties” to be found with our “Section 1,” “Section 2,” and “Section 3” explorations.

You can purchase White Cannibal Queen from Blue Underground or watch it as a free-with-ads-stream on Tubi.

You can purchase Cannibal Terror from 88 Films or watch it as a VOD on Amazon Prime.

You can purchase Devil Hunter from Severin Films or watch it as as free-with-ads-stream on Daily Motion.

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