Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977)

a.k.a. - Emanuelle e gli ultimi cannibali (ITA), Trap them and Kill them (USA)

Joe D'Amato's horror twist on the Black Emanuelle series, starring Laura Gemser. Shriek Show USA R1 DVD.

The Film

Acclaimed photo-journalist Emanuelle (Laura Gemser) is undercover taking photographs for an exposé of a New York mental hospital when she witnesses a nurse who has had her nipple bitten off by a patient. The patient turns out to have a curious tribal tattoo which Emanuelle discovers is that of an apparently extinct Amazon cannibal tribe. She meets up with anthropologist Mark Lester (Gabriele Tinti) who she encourages to help lead an expedition into the Amazon to research an article on the tribes. In the jungle they meet up with Wilkes whose daughter Isabelle is heading up river to deliver supplies to a missionary. As the group camp by the river on an evening they bump into hunter Donald McKenzie (Donal O'Brien) who tells them that the missionary's camp has been destroyed by savages. The next morning the groups discover that one of their crew has been brutally slaughtered and their boats are missing - they have to begin the perilous cross-country trek back to safety...

The Black Emanuelle series originated as a cash-in on the enourmously successful French film Emmanuelle (1974) and it is no surprise therefore to see it further cashing-in on contemporary cinematic trends, in this case Ruggero Deodato's Ultimo mondo cannibale (1977) (one of the first Italian cannibal films, that Deodato would follow up with his much more influencial Cannibal Holocaust (1980)). D'Amato's film, which he co-scripted, follows what would become a rather generic cannibal film storyline, with a small group of Westerners finding themselves trapped in the jungle and at the mercy of the savages who inevitably start to eat their way up the cast list.

The storyline opens in typical Black Emanuelle film fashion, although the build-up to the arrival in the rainforest seems to be very quickly hurried over with the almost comical result that an expedition into the Amazon seems to be planned in a single day (and consist of no more than two people). From here on there are no real links to the established Emanuelle character aside from the fact that she takes a few photographs - the character could easily have been in the story as a visitor of the missionary station. The links to the earlier films are also quite limited - aside from a few sex scenes there is very little eroticism and the focus seems to be on making a dedicated cannibal film. In this respect the script is solid if unimpressive - there is nothing here that would not be done a lot better by many of the later genre entries, but at least the pacing is strong and some tension is built up at the enjoyable climax.

Although D'Amato had really taken Emanuelle around the world in his earlier films, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals spends most of its runtime in an Italian river, masquerading as the Amazon - the effect is not too bad but it does mean that the stock animal footage looks very poorly integrated (although fortunately it is only used once). The direction of the sex scenes, usually a highlight of the series, is rather uninspired and like the script it feels like D'Amato was much more interested in getting to the gore scenes. At these he does excel with some incredibly vivid effects on display (although the film does avoid the animal violence which was to become a genre staple). Even composer Nico Fidenco changes tack here with a much darker than usual soundtrack which works well to build up tension, although still retaining a cheesy title song.

Laura Gemser is of course Emanuelle although she probably gets the least to do of all her films here in what is essentially a co-leading role alongside her real life husband Gabriele Tinti as the professor and Donal O'Brien (Keoma (1976)) as the hunter. The attractive young Mónica Zanchi (who also appeared alongside Laura Gemser in Suor Emanuelle (1977)) plays the roughly treated Isabelle Wilkes.

Only loosely connected to the style of the other films, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals does not easily fit with the rest of Joe D'Amato's Black Emanuelle films which focused almost entirely on sex - whether erotic softcore or sleazy hardcore - instead he has made a rather straight-forward cannibal film with a servicable if generic plot. The Italian locations are not as obviously faked as some of the later cannibal pictures and the gory effects are certainly impressive making this film of interest to fans of the cannibal genre, but it is not recommended for viewers wanting something along the lines of the other Black Emanuelle films.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Laura Gemser - a regular erotic star who later appeared in D'Amato's post-apocalyptic Endgame (1983)
Directed by anyone interesting? Joe D'Amato - one of the most notorious Italian directors of the Euro-cult era, he directed a number of horror films including Antropophagus (1980) and Rosso sangue (1981) although never made another jungle cannibal film.
Any gore or violence? Some very vivid gore scenes including a nipple being cut off and detailed disembowling. No animal violence.
Any sex or nudity? A few sex and female nude scenes.
Who is it for? Fans of cannibal films will enjoy this none too original, but well paced story with some solid gore effects. Fans of the erotica that formed the other entries to the series will be disappointed by the relative lack of nudity in this film.

See Also:
Black Emanuelle (1975) Bitto Albertini's first film - a rather loosely plotted affair that focuses mainly on a series of erotic sex scenes.
Black Emanuelle series Joe D'Amato's five film series of increasingly sleazy adventures for Laura Gemser's Emanuelle.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour
The print does not have any noticable damage but it is occasionally quite soft, lacking detail and often quite dark which makes the night time scenes rather hard to make out. Some of the day-for-night tinting does not seem to have been applied properly so characters refer to night-time when they are standing in broad daylight.
Audio English mono - a little muffled but the dialogue is clear. The dubbed track is rather on the poor side with lip-sync being out in a few scenes and the voice acting on the weak side.
Subtitles None
Extras The disc includes:
  • Trailer - English language and with English text.
  • Gallery of promotional stills - 25 images, as a video file with chapter stops. No audio.
  • Bonus trailers for Violence in a Women's Prison and the Lucio Fulci giallo Lizard in a Woman's Skin
Region Region 1 (USA, North America) - NTSC
Other regions? The AWE Scandinavian DVD release includes an anamorphic print (reported to be better quality than this disc), as well as Danish, Finnish, Swedish and Norweigan subtitles over an English audio track. Some extra features but mostly text based. Various other releases avaiable, most with low picture quality or cuts (the UK DVD was cut by the BBFC by 1m 58s).
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. The print used has English language credits (appear to be newly created).



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 22nd November 2010.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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