Before Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox made all of the dull people angry, and after Deep River Savages got the ball rolling, there came this interesting little movie from director Sergio Martino. It differs from the rest of the flock of Cannibal movies in one major way – it has two actual movie stars in the lead roles.
Unlike the other, more notorious cannibal movies from that era, which featured largely unknown or cult cast members, this one had the talents of Ursula Andress and Stacy Keach top-lining a film in which a band of people searching for a missing man fall foul of jungle natives. There's no documentary being made and no film crew following them, so it plays much more as a straightforward movie drama for the most part, which helps it move along at a steady pace.
However, the abhorrent animal cruelty scenes and the really quite startling gore scenes (when they finally arrive) that feature in the film got the title listed as a Video Nasty. Viewing it uncut now, it still shocks where it always did, but if you take away the real animal shots and leave in the dramatised violence, it becomes one of the most competent and enjoyable of all of the slew of Italian cannibal movies which were made around the same time.
Of course, it features all of the cliches that come with the sub-genre, but they seem slightly less hokey here, thanks to Andress and Keach both playing it straight and not hamming up their roles in a 'hey, we're in some trash!' way.
The film does feature one particularly notorious scene which doesn't involve masses of gore – the scene in which natives strip Ursula Andress naked and gratuitously smear her in paint.
It's scenes like that and the casual stereotypes put forward in the portrayal of innocent natives (and indeed the brutal cannibals) which give the film the seedy air of the exploitation era, but The Mountain Of The Cannibal God plays much more like an action-adventure film than the relentless gross-out films of Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenzi.
It's not an all-encompassing genre classic, but it is a better made, better written and better directed effort than the titles which got most of the hype.