I’ve been obsessed with funky horror flicks for most of my life. Sneaking them on tv while my parents were oblivious, renting them whenever i could and watching them in the theater. About 8 years ago I discovered the Video Nasties list. It’s a list of 74 films banned by the British Film Board in the early 80s. I tracked down as many as i could over the course of a year or two, going through them alphabetically to force myself to watch some of the more unsavory films I had been avoiding. It was with great trepidation that I reached the C’s early on in my quest. Italian flicks Cannibal Apocalypse, Cannibal Ferox, Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Man. All were films I knew were supposed to be supremely nasty and I didn’t really want to see them. But being the completist that i am, i spun the discs and churned my stomach. After watching Cannibal Holocaust, I had to leave the house and ride my bike and try to forget what I had seen. Even if you close your eyes during the gruesome animal deaths, it’s a grisly flick not to be taken lightly. Since then I’ve seen a few other Italian cannibal flicks, Man From Deep River, Mountain of the Cannibal God, and Follow the River on Your Right (a doc about a real anthropologist that lived and ate with a cannibal tribe). It’s a genre that most would leave lying under the rug, forgotten by time, remembered with shame. Not Adam Cesare. He wrote a fictional book about one.
Tribesmen is a novel about a small crew on a shoestring budget who adventure to a small island to shoot a cannibal flick to top all cannibal flicks. They arrive on the island and find it uninhabited but having the remains of some forgotten civilization. Huts, ropes, and fishing equipment. But no tribe. The crew sets up and gets ready for an ardous shoot schedule, helmed by Tito Bronze (Tinto Brass?). The stage is set, filming begins and all hell breaks loose as psychosis overtakes the crew turning them into murderous monsters.
Tribesmen is a short book that gets to the damn point and quick. We came for blood, not expostion and Adam doesn’t waste time getting there. Graphic descriptions of bodily carnage are strewn about in the novel, which moves at the speed of a bullet plowing into some poor bastards face.
One thing i’ve always hated in novels, are real life music or film references. When done poorly the reference comes off as tacky, as if the writer is screaming, Look, I’m Cool! I know what Cool stuff is! It always takes me out of whatever i’m reading and thankfully Adam doesn’t doe that here. He references many films that exist, but in a general way using fake names. Sure, i know he’s talking about Cannibal Holocaust but he doesn’t come out and say, hey, i’m talking about cannibal holocaust. One character is probably Franco Nero, but he doesn’t say, Hey, I’m talking about Franco Nero! He keeps everything hypothetical though to the trained cinephile, we get what he’s trying to say without him having to come out and say it.
It’s a lot of fun reading about the making of a cannibal flick from someone who has obviously watched several and has knowledge of how a film is made in real life. Many small but accurate technical phrases are used and it helps make the book that much more believable without, screaming I KNOW HOW TO MAKE A FILM, SEE?! It’s pleasant to find subtly in a book that for the most part is anything but.
The book could have been an obnoxious collection of film references and cinephile jokes but thankfully it isn’t. It’s just a damn fine, well written gory action filled book that gives you what you paid for. A fun ride.