An enjoyable gore-filled tribute to the cannibal film cycle of the 1970s and 80s. It’s about the calamitous (un)making of just such a movie in the early 1980s, and works primarily because of its believability. In this respect TRIBESMEN can be viewed as something of a companion-piece to Austin Williams’ CRIMSON ORGY, which took a similar approach in dramatizing American exploitation moviemaking of the 1960s.
TRIBESMEN’S characters include Roland Pressberg, an exploitation movie producer who bankrolls a cannibal chomp-fest to be filmed in a Caribbean jungle, with the condition that “I never have to sit down and watch the fucking thing;” Tito Bronze, the universally hated anything-for-a-kick director of the opus; Jacque Fuller, the vastly overqualified Cambridge-educated screenwriter; Umberto Luigi, the non-English speaking star; Dennis Roth, the junkie cinematographer; and Cynthia, the naive beach-blonde starlet making her film debut (she’s in for quite a learning curve, needless to say). All are reasonably well developed characters, and the early-eighties exploitation milieu described here corresponds in most respects to what we know of the actual scene, which was marked by shameless cost-cutting and morally questionable acts.
That latter factor becomes especially pressing when one of the principals, under the influence of some vaguely defined supernatural presence, goes mad during a scene. This results in a bloody decapitation and a desperate chase through the jungle, during which the characters’ true natures are laid bare. By the end, you can be sure, not too many of them will be left alive, and nor will all their corpses be left intact.
I’d question the addition of the supernatural (the aforementioned CRIMSON ORGY proved that a story like this one can work just fine without it), but otherwise this is a solid and crisply written account containing all the gore, perversion, movie in-jokes (Italian film buffs will note that many of the character names are taken directly from reality) and miscellaneous bad behavior any exploitation movie maven could possibly want.