Cannibals is a 1980 French/Spanish horror feature film directed by prolific Spanish exploitation director Jesús Franco starring Sabrina Siani. It is one of two cannibal films directed by Franco featuring Al Cliver, the other being Devil Hunter. It is also known as Mondo Cannibale, White Cannibal Queen and Barbarian Goddess.
Doctor Taylor, his wife Elizabeth and their teenage daughter Lana go to an isolated hospital in the Brazilian jungle. They are attacked by savages and the doctor witnesses them kill and eat his wife, and abduct his daughter.
Taylor manages to get back to civilization, but he needs psychiatric help; only Doctor Ana believes his story about cannibals, and takes the risk of going with him and a few rich people who can pay for a safari in the remote jungle.
The cannibals decimate a number of the safari members in a succession of attacks, and only Taylor, Doctor Ana, and a photographer reach the cannibal tribe – only to discover that his daughter is now the wife of the tribe leader, and considered a goddess…
The film is notable for the fact that it shares an amount of footage with Cannibal Terror. While many sources suggest that Franco’s footage was ‘borrowed’ for Cannibal Terror, a closer examination reveals that there are more connections than this between the two films. Both films share a number of locations, cast, and even dubbing actors. Some connections which suggest more than a mere borrowing of footage are:
Sabrina Siani is the eponymous White Cannibal Queen of Cannibals, and also appears (as a fully clothed adult) in a bar scene in Cannibal Terror. Several shots of the dancing cannibal tribe in their village are common to both films, and several shots appear only in one or the other.
One actor with a very distinctive face and large Mick Jagger type of mouth is seen in Cannibal Terror in no less than three roles (two cannibals and one border guard) and is also quite visible as one of the cannibals devouring Al Cliver’s wife in Cannibals. Pamela Stanford plays Manuella in Cannibal Terror, and has the brief role of the unfortunate Mrs. Jeremy Taylor in Cannibals. She also appeared in a number of Jesus Franco’s other films around this time period, perhaps most notably, Lorna the Exorcist. As well, the actor who plays Roberto in Cannibal Terror is the captain of the boat at the beginning of Cannibals.
Cannibals is considered even by Jess Franco himself to be the worst cannibal film ever made, due to its slow pacing, bad acting, terrible special effects and awful camera work. Franco said that he only did the two cannibal films for the money, and admitted he had no idea why anyone would want to watch them. He said that Sabrina Siani was the worst actress he ever worked with in his life (second only to Romina Power) and that Siani’s only good quality was her delectable derrière which he shows off to good effect in this film.
“Omitting the animal cruelty, that seemed to be part and parcel of so many of the Italian entries, Franco actually brings in a reasonably competently made slice of cannibal mayhem without resorting to such shock tactics. The cannibal attacks are also quite nightmarish and unpleasant and very effective, as they play out in close-up slow motion”. Sex Gore Mutants
“This film is one of the most uninspired that I have seen in while from Jess Franco and I was totally caught off guard how tame and restrained he made the cannibals. Ultimately is you have climbed to the top of the cannibal mountain with films like Cannibal Ferox or Cannibal Holocaust then a film like Cannibals might be to tame and uneventful for you”. 10,000 Bullets
“If you are one of those people who clings to the misguided belief that Uwe Boll or Paul W.S. Anderson are the worst directors in history you need to watch more Franco. Seriously. Cannibals is a piece of shit, and is really for cannibal completists only. Not even rabid Francophiles will find much value from this bland atrocity.” Digital Retribution
Further reading: Jungle Holocaust: Cannibal Tribes in Exploitation Cinema – article