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By James Whittington, Saturday 15th September 2018
Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story 88 Films Certificate 18
Known around the world under several different titles such as White Slave, Cannibal Holocaust II, Blonde Captive and Forest Slave, Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story was one of the last hurrahs of the Italian Cannibal movie genre. Like most gut-munchers it claims to be based on fact, but the real fact here is that its more melodrama then splatter movie. This isn't a bad thing at all.
Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story tells the story of a western blonde (Elvire Audrey) who is captured, stripped and tormented by a group of jungle head-hunters. Can she escape from this tribe or will she learn more about life than she could ever have imagined?
Though the main titles contain a lush, European-style theme which gives way to a courtroom sequence and backstory where we witness a couple being ambushed by very unpleasant Amazonian head-hunters and then decapitated. Their daughter is taken captive and has to think quickly if she is to escape this nightmare. The film then settles into a story of survival, love, and revenge rather than just endless pieces of half-eaten entrails and exposed guts being passed around the local cannibal camp.
Though she is dubbed, Elvire Audray does give a haunting performance even when half naked, which she is most of the time. Dick Campbell finally gets to be the hard-chinned hero he always wanted to play with the bonus that he dubbed his own voice for once. Mario Gariazzo, directing under the name of Roy Garret, allows a lot of the bold images do the talking rather than punctuating it with needless or inane dialogue. It is gory and is violent but not to the extreme limits of other cannibal movies.
The image is sharp, and colourful with plenty of detail during the jungle sequences. It shows some grain in places but that will due to the stock it was shot on. The mono soundtracks are also nice and clear but the Italian one is the one to use as the dubbing on the English track is a tad dodgy in places.
As this is an 88 Films Italian series release you can be sure that it comes with some very worthy extras including the superb documentary, The Last Supper: The Final Days of the Italian Cannibal Film This follow-up to the award winning Eaten Alive! The Rise And Fall of the Italian Cannibal Film includes interviews with actor Michael Sopkiw (Massacre In Dinosaur Valley), directors Ed Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project) and Ruggero Deodato (Cut and Run), academics Mikel Koven and Calum Waddell and author and critic John Martin. There's also an interview with Cameraman Federico Del Zoppo, a collector's booklet on the life and times of Amazonia actress Elvire Audray and the original theatrical trailer.
Though not in the same grimy league of the grindhouse cannibal efforts that had been released before, Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story is a solid movie that tried to take the genre in a different, more audience friendly (meaning there's no animal cruelty) direction and is all the better for it.
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