A good shock can be one of the most exhilarating experiences a movie can give you. I’m not talking about cheap shocks. There’s plenty of crazy stuff going on in modern movies that may be shocking, but are of little interest to me. A good shock might not be as elusive as a genuine chill, but it’s still a rare treat to be treasured whenever it is found.
Like a good scare, the high is never as good as it is the first time you experience it. You’re always chasing that feeling again. The problem is, the very nature of shocks makes them hard to find. For the full effect, you can’t be expecting it.
When I first watched Mountain of the Cannibal God on DVD, I had seen most of the major Italian cannibal movies. The animal violence is repugnant and ugly and pretty damn shocking, but after the first one (my first was Cannibal Holocaust) it never left me feeling like I couldn’t believe what I just saw. I knew what I was going to see heading in.
Mountain of the Cannibal God caught me off guard in several ways. Right off the bat, the slick production values made it feel different than the others. It felt a little safer. Of course, a monkey gets killed by a snake early on just to remind me what territory I’m in. Still, that’s par for the course with these movies.
Another thing, it had name performers in Stacy Keach and Ursula Andress. Admittedly not the biggest names in Hollywood, but they would still probably be more recognizable to mainstream audiences than Robert Kerman and John Morghen. Not only that, but Andress was stripped nude and slathered with something yellow and slimy.
None of that blew me away though. It wasn’t until the scene in the cave at the end of the movie that I said “Holy shit!” out loud three times in short order. I’m not usually that demonstrative during movies, but this was an involuntary reaction. Sort of like an audible flinch. I probably should have just gasped, but “Holy shit!” just rolled off the tongue. Not only that, but each “Holy shit!” was louder than the previous one. I’m lucky it only happened three times or I probably would have started to upset the neighbors.
I was already captivated as Andress was stripped and slathered. Maybe she’s not the biggest star at this point, but they didn’t go easy on the former Bond girl here. She’s able to hold her own with other exploitation stars of the era. The fact that she could hack it in a movie like this makes her cool in my book (which, I’m sure, was her ambition).
Anyway, after things get swinging, we catch a glimpse of some of the natives having sex. It doesn’t seem like cinematic sex, and if it’s simulated, Martino certainly had an eye toward accuracy. All the sheen from the earlier scenes in the movie is completely gone. This is some dirty and frenzied dorking. Usually you know by about 90 minutes into a movie if you’re going to see something like that.
As the overall arousal level in the cave rises, some people do the natural thing in such a situation and begin openly masturbating. Not entirely shocking given what we just saw, but one of the women takes it a step beyond what I was expecting and inserts a finger.
Again, this isn’t the most shocking material in its own right, but it can really catch you off guard when there hasn’t been much in the way of sexuality to this point. At least now, the audience can be ready for whatever is thrown their way. I’d think that, although the level of shocking material may be maintained, it probably wouldn’t be elevated. I would be wrong.
The next shot features a guy screwing what appears to be a really big pig from behind. Not being overly familiar with pigs and boars, I can’t say with absolute certainty what animal is on the receiving end of this furious pounding. What I can say is that the animal seems remarkably indifferent to the whole ordeal. It’s just busy grazing on whatever it is that seems to be growing in this cave. At what frequency is this sort of shit happening?
Call me a prude if you want to, but seeing guys fuck pigs always catches me off guard. I’m pretty sure Martino could have thrown anything at me after that and I would have felt like we were back to the light stuff. There’s a level of decency that you expect filmmakers to not go past (in any genre, even cannibal movies), and Martino had blown past that a few “holy shits” ago – and I completely love him for it.
I was so desensitized in about 90 seconds, that seeing some little person getting his skull cracked open after the world’s wimpiest kick barely registered.