Green Inferno – original title: Natura contra [“Contrary to Nature”] aka Cannibal Holocaust II – is a 1988 Italian action horror feature film directed by Antonio Climati (Sweet and Savage; This Violent World; Savage Man Savage Beast) from a screenplay co-written with Franco Prosperi, Federico Moccia and Lorenzo Castellano. The movie stars Mario Merlo, Fabrizio Merlo, May Deseligny, Pio Maria Federici and Bruno Corazzari.
Antonio Climati had no intention of making a sequel to Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 film and the Cannibal Holocaust II title was used by distributors of the film to cash-in on the success and notoriety of the earlier shocker. Ironically, Green Inferno was the working title for Cannibal Holocaust.
Certain scenes in Deodato’s 1980 movie have also been noted as being similar to scenes in Antonio Climati’s mondo film This Violent World (1976), specifically the scene in which the character Professor Monroe bathes sans clothes in the river and the scene of the abortion rite. The cinéma vérité style used heavily in Cannibal Holocaust was also used before in Climati’s first mondo film, Savage Man Savage Beast (1975) in a scene in which a tourist is attacked and killed by a pride of lions.
This was the last film directed by Climati, who had gained notoriety as a major player in the mondo ‘shockumentary’ film genre. Although fictional, the film deals with many common tropes of mondo films, including exotic customs and locales, and cruel violence.
In Tarantinoesque manner, Eli Roth re-used the title for his 2013 Italian-inspired jungle shocker, The Green Inferno.
First off, let’s be clear – this isn’t the rubbish Eli Roth film from 2015. Oh no, this Green Inferno is an entirely different rubbish film altogether, made in 1988 and directed by one Antonio Climati, probably best known for working on movies like Jacopetti and Prosperi’s Mondo Cane (1962) and 1966’s Africa: Blood and Guts. Despite Climati’s association with outrageous and controversial mondo cinema, what we’ve got here is an entirely sillier bag of nonsense.
Three men steal the biggest yellowest aeroplane they can find and drive it down a motorway, presumably leaving the absurd monster truck they drove to the site of the robbery at the scene of the crime. Despite this not a single policeman seems to spot this infraction of justice. Off to the Amazon they go. As they look for a place to land one character exclaims “There’s not a boat in the bay!” as one passes extremely obviously across the screen.
They’re there to meet up with intrepid reporter Jemma, who has just been traumatised by a scene of utter daftness. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget this,” she says as she surveys a head shrinkers laboratory complete with actors’ heads stuck through a table and a giant poster of Paul Newman’s face on the wall, and neither will we.
Our useless explorers are on the trail of a missing professor (identified by the characteristic sound of his cigarette lighter on a tape, no less). They need a jungle guide. They find him in the Beer & Toad Racing bar. Once all the toads have been weighed (or possibly just raised and lowered a lot in outstretched palms for some reason that is never made clear) there is a toad race. It is quite possibly the highlight of the film.
The next five minutes feature monkey resuscitation, a trumpet solo on the river, and an eel stuck up a man’s backside that has to be removed by one of our ‘heroes’ (I am not making this up). Then it’s time for our first tribe of natives. We’re told they ‘don’t like to wear clothes’ but for some reason they do like to wear garish pink and yellow wigs. We never find out what this tribe is called, which is a shame.
It’s night and there’s an attack by bats on strings, after which everyone goes monkey hunting. Then it’s time for some ants on chest and spider on belly ‘torture’ before the whole film slows right down and turns into a series of episodic, mildly interesting adventures for our explorers. In fact it’s safe to say any appeal Green Inferno may have to the trash connoisseur is in its opening half, although we do get Mozart in the jungle, more trumpet playing and trousers being taken down at gunpoint.
Extras on the new 88 Films Blu-ray include Italian opening and closing titles and a half-hour featurette on the history of cannibal movies. To get maximum value from this disc the drinking game you can play with this one is to watch it with the English dialogue track but turn on the subtitles. Every time there’s a wild deviation between the two take a swig and you won’t be worrying too much about the end of the film anyway.
John Llewellyn Probert, guest reviewer via House of Mortal Cinema
“On paper, an Italian jungle adventure film directed by someone of Climati’s exploitation pedigree sounds like a truly tantalising prospect, but for whatever reason, his heart just doesn’t seem to have been in the project […] The Green Inferno is a thoroughly feeble, lifeless and tiresome Italian led trek up the Amazon…” Cult Movie Forums
“This film is surprisingly bad. Natura Contro came out after the cannibal genre had already lost its popularity, so it seems by this point Italians have completely forgotten how to make a cannibal film. The film is filled with countless subplots and idiotic characters.” Who The Real Cannibals Are
Cast and characters:
- Marco Merlo … Fred
- Fabrizio Merlo … Mark
- May Deseligny … Jemma Demien
- Pio Maria Federici … Pete
- Bruno Corazzari … Child Smuggler
- Roberto Ricci … Professor Korenz
- Jessica Quintero … Kuwala
- David Maunsell … River Fisherman
- Sasha D’Arc … Kuwala’s sister
- Roberto Alessandri … Head Hunter
- Sal Borgese … Juan Garcia (as Salvatore Borgese)