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  • Writer's pictureKelly M. Hudson

Boobs and Cannibals Galore!

Emanuelle (Laura Gemser) has gone undercover at a mental institution to expose what goes on behind the scenes there for the newspaper she works for. It is in the midst of this work that a new patient attacks a nurse, chewing off her right breast. Turns out, the patient was found at the outskirts of the Amazon and has a tattoo on her lower abdomen of a symbol of some lost cannibal tribe. Can she be a link to the last cannibal tribe left in the world? Emanuelle, intrigued, enlists the help of her newspaper boss, who links her up with an anthropologist who has worked that region of the Amazon before. Under the aegis of the paper, Emanuelle and the scientist rush off to the Amazon, commissioning a group to go into the jungle and find the lost tribe. After lots of nudity, some softcore sex, and a ton of general, sweaty carousing, they do find the tribe, or to be more accurate, the tribe finds them. And that’s when the bloodletting begins, and that’s when Emanuelle must save the day.

Joe D’Amato directed this wild and wooly pic, and true to his usual style, he doesn’t give a damn about anything having to do with good taste. There’s nudity aplenty here, along with a heaping helping of blood and gore. And I have to say, for 1977, this one is really ahead of its time. No, it isn’t as gory as Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox, or really any of the Italian cannibal movies that came out in its wake, but man, it sets the bar. This one does not fuck around. There’s a lot to love here, and not just Gemser’s outrageous beauty. Emanuelle is an interesting character, a very smart, liberated woman who lives life the way she wants. She doesn’t need any man to coddle and protect her. She sleeps with who she wants, when she wants (man or woman), and doesn’t ask their permission. She is a free spirit, fierce and independent. For an exploitation movie, that’s saying something. And the gore! Good God. There was a scene early on, before Emanuelle makes love with the anthropologist, where he shows her film of a cannibal tribe in Africa. Cut immediately to an adulterer having his penis sawed off and then to another tribesman scooping out this adulterer’s eyes and eating them with much mirth on his face. Seconds later, Emanuelle and her consort are writhing around in bed, naked. The thought occurred to me: who does D’Amato think he’s making this movie for? What kind of niche audience wants to see penis hacking followed by boobs and butts and groaning sex? I then realized it was me. I am his audience. Bravo, D’Amato!

So yeah, this is one for the books. It’s terrific, full of nudity and gore, and it makes no apologies for what it is. Yes, there is some uneasiness in the portrayal of the cannibal tribe as nothing but rapist savages, but it is put in context of sacred religious rites, so take that as you will. Aside from that queasy bit of racism (it comes with the territory in these cannibal films, less so in the most notorious of them all, Cannibal Holocaust), the movie is loads of fun. Gemser is simply awesome as Emanuelle and the action never really lets up. Ahead of its time, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals really set the template for the Italian cannibal subgenre that was just about to explode, for good and bad.


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