Sunday, April 16, 2017

#2,339. White Slave (1985)

Directed By: Mario Gariazzo

Starring: Elvire Audray, Will Gonzales, Dick Campbell

Tag line: "Only one thing kept her alive"

Trivia: This is the first of two movies that adopted the alternate title of Cannibal Holocaust 2

White Slave, a 1985 horror / adventure set in the jungles of South America, was released under a number of different titles, including Amazonia and, in a few European markets, Cannibal Holocaust 2, a blatant attempt to cash in on the notoriety of 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust. While there are, indeed, similarities between this movie and Deodato’s notorious film, White Slave doesn’t contain nearly as many shocks as Cannibal Holocaust, and at times is even a little dull.

Fresh out of boarding school, teenager Catherine Miles (Elvire Audray) decides to spend the summer at the South American rubber plantation owned and operated by her parents. To celebrate her arrival, Catherine’s father takes the family (including Catherine’s Aunt and Uncle) on a boat trip down the Amazon River. The good times are cut short, however, when the group is attacked by what appears to be a tribe of headhunters. Temporarily paralyzed by a poisonous dart, Catherine is eventually taken prisoner, and forced to watch as Umukai (Will Gonzales), a jungle warrior, beheads her mother and father.

Dragged to the headhunter’s village, Catherine is auctioned off to the highest bidder, who claims her as his wife. This doesn’t sit well with Umukai, who has fallen in love with Catherine, and he challenges her new husband to a fight to the death. Umukai is victorious, and over the course of several months tries to win Catherine’s heart. Because of his role in her parents’ demise, Catherine has sworn she will never submit to Umukai, and does everything she can to escape. But was Umukai actually the one who murdered her mother and father, or were they killed by someone else?

In addition to their similar settings (the jungles of South America), Cannibal Holocaust and White Slave are both presented as if they were documentaries; a large chunk of White Slave takes place inside a courtroom, where Catherine, months after her captivity has ended, is standing trial for murder (to explain this further would constitute a spoiler). But with its story of a white person being integrated into a primitive tribe, White Slave has more in common with 1972’s Man from Deep River, the Umberto Lenzi movie that’s credited with kicking off the cannibal subgenre, than it does Cannibal Holocaust

Unfortunately, White Slave has a few too many scenes set in the headhunters’ village, and after a while Catherine’s ordeal begins to lose its potency. Worse still, there are sequences that are downright boring. And while Cannibal Holocaust did a decent job showing how “civilized” people could be more barbaric than so-called “savages”, White Slave’s attempts to do the same fail to hit the mark (a late scene involving a pair of hunters in a helicopter is anything but subtle).

As with most cannibal films from this era, White Slave has its share of extreme content (Elvire Audray is topless during her entire stay with the natives, and the scene in which Catherine’s parents are beheaded is appropriately gruesome), and even features a couple of animal deaths (unlike Cannibal Holocaust, however, the jungle creatures in White Slave are killed not by humans, but by other animals). The movie is also quite beautiful, taking full advantage of its picturesque setting. In the end, though, White Slave is too lethargically paced to be effective, and even with its handful of exciting moments is never as interesting as its predecessors.

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