As Bond girls go, Honey Ryder was the original, and one of the best. She was brought to life by the always beautiful Ursula Andress, who went on to become a 60s sex symbol and fantasy of men the world over. With that said, sure she’s unarguably hot, but whether she can act is an entirely different question. Perhaps the role of Susan Stevenson can provide us some insight.
Hot? Yes. Actress? Maybe.
As the wife of missing anthropologist Henry Stevenson, Susan has traveled with her brother Arthur to the jungles ofNew Guinea, supposedly, to find him. Upon arrival, she learns that her husband was most likely captured by cannibals and taken to a sacred mountain. Teaming up with Professor Edward Foster, played by a young Stacy Keach, the search begins.
Veering from the straight-ahead line of most cannibal stories, this film gets points for attempting some plot twists. Other kudos are certainly due for some full frontal from Ursula Andress and a slew of images that clearly inspired Deodato.
After establishing the half-hearted premise of the missing husband, the band of rescuers forges ahead into the jungle. While slowly wandering through the brush does little to advance the less than stellar plot, it does teach us a few things. Firstly, Susan’s brother, Arthur, is a complete douche. Secondly, every cannibal film needs lots of animal on animal violence cut sequences.
Once Arthur manages to run off the local jungle guides, the only thing left to do is wait. And, what do you know? The obligatory “jungle man” shows up, in the form of Manolo, to lead us on. It’s never clear why Manolo is wandering the jungle, but he arrives just in time to save Susan from a blood-thirsty native. Yet another example of convenience in storytelling.
With Manolo’s help, the group makes their way to a small mission where we learn of Edward’s ulterior motives. He was once captured by the cannibals and forced to eat human flesh. As a result, he is hell-bent on the destruction of all cannibals. While that may be an admirable goal, surviving Arthur’s doucheyness should be his first concern.
The second act drags on, laboriously. The cast dwindles and we get to our attempt at a plot twist. Susan hates her husband and is seeking to strike it rich mining Uranium. Impressive as that may sound, it is, in fact, ludicrous. It’s not even remotely believable that she could recognize Uranium with her own team of scientists pointing at it, in her own hand.
The bad acting continues and they actually find the Uranium, but whoops it’s protected by cannibals and they’re on the menu… except for Susan whom the cannibals believe to be a goddess because of an old photograph belonging to her husband. Yep, cannibals are dumb.
The rituals undertaken by the cannibals once our heroes are captured is actually the only really interesting bit in the film. Laced with images that defy films distributed today, there are some crazy shenanigans happening here. One native is furiously humping away on a pig while a cannibal girl loves herself up, quite graphically. And, just for good measure, they have a midget cannibal.
All of that is well and good, but does nothing to offset the boredom brought on by this half-assed attempt at schlock cinema. The third act brings us more cannibal feasts and a pathetic ending that leads us to believe that the cannibals aren’t even tough. Come on, they eat people! No one should be able to escape them! Just look at those masks, they should be fierce! Oh well, at least it’s over.
If you need to watch a boring, average cannibal film and can’t find a Playboy from 1965 to see Ursula Andress naked, or you’re the rare Stacy Keach completist, you should watch this film. Otherwise, better cannibal films are easy to find and much more satisfying.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every time an animal eats another
Take a Drink: for every ridiculous cannibal mask
Drink a Shot: when you see the midget cannibal