Wednesday, 13 March 2019

GREEN INFERNO BLU-RAY review

Released on the 88 Films label, this Italian production sees a group of westerners encounter more than they bargained for in the Amazon jungle, AKA The Green Inferno. The plot (what there is of it) consists of four travellers, searching for a missing professor in the Amazon jungle and interacting with the Imas tribe in order to earn their way back out again. In the jungle they capture monkeys using blowpipes, have a close call with a jaguar and are witness to some bizarre and potentially deadly customs, such as having their exposed genitals threatened by a poisonous snake. The message here is, if you go down to the Amazon jungle today, don't be surprised if you end up dead.

Release number 49 in 88 Films' long running series of vintage Italian shockers, this 1988 Antonio Climati film (variously known as Natura Contro/Against Nature, Green Inferno and in some places as Cannibal Holocaust 2) is a strange, often confusing journey through cultural stereotypes. Firstly, if you approach this film looking for something akin to Cannibal Holocaust, you'll be sorely disappointed by the lack of cannibals as the closest this film gets to flesh-eating is the tiny fish that tries to swim up a guide's rectum.

To wind it back a bit, the film starts with the pretty cool stealing of a sea-plane which is then driven down the highway to their take off destination, followed by the introduction of Jemma (May Deseligny) a journalist interviewing a man about shrunken heads but more concerned with the whereabouts of a missing professor who has entered the Amazon jungle never to be seen again. With her three co-conspirators, they follow his path into the jungle and into immediate danger. Perhaps the biggest problem this film faces is the inescapable feeling that the main characters (jock guy, jock guy number 2, nerd with glasses and woman) deserve anything that happens to them as frankly, they shouldn't be there in the first place.

Still, the location is wonderful, and there's a gonzo documentary approach to the early scenes catching shots of fresh water dolphins and tending to ill monkeys in a way to establish the exotic weirdness of their destination but also the beauty of this land, untouched by modern life until now. The main characters take part in the capture of tree-dwelling monkey using blow darts in a manner that is slightly unsetting. Whether it's the sight of drugged up monkeys or the capture of a jaguar in a pit, if you know anything about the lack of animal welfare in films of the late 1970s and 80s (most notoriously in this film's cinematic step-cousin Cannibal Holocaust) it's easy to be distracted by how real the danger to these animals appears to be. Along with that, the actors appear to be in some danger too, as they come perilously close to the jaguar as they attempt to drag it out of the pit.

Apart from sounding like a kick-ass name for a super hero, the Green Inferno is another name for the uncompromising Amazon Rainforest, shown to be the most deadly place imaginable, but then also a giant water park built for the pleasure of the white folk. A native girl is caught by the current and is at risk of drowning in the river? No worries, just get dragged behind the seaplane using your feet as makeshift skis to save the day. There's a strange mix of tone that is at once a deadly trip into the jungle using witch doctors to heal snake bites, but then laughing and joking around, not dissimilar to Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach.

It may be a greatest hits of jungle hysteria, but as long as you don't go into it expecting flesh-eating tribesmen and gory body mutilations, Green Inferno is a fun, bizarre and occasionally culturally problematic travelogue.

Verdict
3/5

Special Features-
 -Option to play the film in English or Italian (either way the dubbing doesn't line up)
 -Scenes from documentary 'Banned Alive'
 -Italian opening and closing credits
 -Trailer

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