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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Forbidden Jungle Fruit


Gow The Headhunter Hides Among Blu-Ray Extras

An exploration feature from the late silent era later flushed down exploitation rat holes where it lingered to late 50's and beyond, all this showing, I guess, that cannibals and headhunters are timeless in appeal for a public willing to slum. Like any strong act, the flesh eaters are held till a second half, but are worth our wait because they do look ferocious. A first cannibal tribe, says narration, has minds of three year olds, from which cut to neighbor islanders, those who collect skulls, who are at level of six year olds. Visit enough atolls and you'd make graduation day. Certain ceremonies are "repulsive" and "disgusting," so much so that censors won't allow them shown, says the interlocutor. We leave a dance ritual between male natives and female pigs on that note, to which imagination may fill blanks. Gow The Headhunter became Cannibal Island for 1956 revival; I picture it playing behind a Gordon Scott Tarzan, or one of the Bombas booked for $10. Thing is, much of footage here is creepy; you'd not want to cast-away among these yum-yum-eat-'em-ups. Visuals are straightforward, it's narration that trashes things up. Flicker Alley offers Blu-Ray of Gow/Cannibal as companion to The Most Dangerous Game on High-Def, an irresistible package.

3 Comments:

Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Don't need a second reason to get THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME on Blu-ray (the score alone is worth getting which I have) but now you have given me one. I had a 16MM copy of a thing called BLACK GOLD which was also filmed during the silent era and released early in the sound era. White prospectors in the mountains with every inch of their bodies covered with fur coats and parkas have their gear carried by natives naked except for loin cloths. Said the narrator, "The natives were able to keep warm by chewing on the leaves of the cocoa plant." Hidden wisdom there. Think about how low we could get our winter heating bills had we cocoa leaves to chew on. We might also find ourselves over dressed and opt for loin cloths. I used to run this to audiences high on marijuana but who never caught the cocaine reference. They thought themselves hip but like many who think that were just dopes.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

Sounds similar to the MONDO movies of the Sixties.

11:57 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer recalls some televised jungle treks:


During that year between college and law school, I was living in Hickory, North Caroline in a third floor attic room. I had a 9 inch GE black and white portable, a graduation gift from my parents, and the UHF antenna dangling out the window could bring in Charlotte's Channel 36, with its package of Warner Bros. and Universal films, and, just barely, Hickory's own Channel 14.

Channel 14 had a limited broadcast schedule then, usually three or four hours in the evening. Its live programming was for half an hour and devoted to local news. The image quality was so harsh--glare and high contrasts--that I could almost imagine that its studio equipment originated with DuMont's failed attempt to set up a network of UHF stations 20 years before.

Its telecine equipment was adequate, however, though the programming was rather a grab bag. There were leftovers from a 20th Century-Fox package, such as "Mark of Zorro," "The Lodger," and "Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake," episodes from the same studio's "Hour of Stars," a taped kiddie show, with old-time cowboy star "Sunset" Carson hosting a showing of Republic westerns featuring such second-tier stars as Alan "Rocky" Lane, "Wild Bill" Elliot, Don "Red" Barry, and himself, and oddities such as Luis Brunel's "Robinson Crusoe."

There was also something called "Timbuctoo," a rather primitive British film from the early thirties about the adventures of British travelers in "darkest Africa." It may have been intended as a comedy, but the footage filmed on location was quite raw. There were bare-breasted native girls, a grisly sequence in which a hippopotamus was slaughtered, and a very strange one featuring a kind of magician. It climaxes with two little boys seemingly thrown up in the air and impaled on the ends of spears. The magician and the boys were then shown running through a crowd at the village, though whether the sequence was filmed before or after the act is a question. There didn't seem to be any trickery involved and the effect was very disturbing.

I don't know if "Timbuctoo" ever had much of a release in the United States, but if it did, I'm sure that the exploitation angles would have been similar to those of "Gow, The Headhunter," "Ingagi," or other such films that promised a look at something dark and well beyond the limits of commonplace experience.

9:18 AM  

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