42nd Street Cinema

Papaya: Love Goddess of the Cannibals (1978)

As I find myself growing tired of the wintery climate, I'm taking a short trip to the tropics with Joe D'Amato's Papaya: Love Goddess of the Cannibals/Papaya dei Caraibi.

Starring: Sirpa Lane, Melissa Chimenti, Maurice Poli and Dakar.

By now, anyone reading this blog should already know I have a penchant for the films of Joe D'Amato. Whether they be good, bad or downright obscure, I'm bound to find some perverse enjoyment in his work and perhaps dear reader, you do too.

But, if you came here expecting a gore drenched shocker along the lines of Ruggero Deodato's Last Cannibal World/Ultimo mondo cannibale (1977), prepare yourself for a little disappointment. As Papaya is more akin to the steamy softcore romps found in D'Amato's Emanuelle film series.

The narrative of Papaya is somewhat more environmentally conscious when compared to other cannibal-related films, similar to Bruno Mattei's Zombie Creeping Flesh/Virus (1980), it deals with the exploitation of the Third World. Though, this plot device becomes largely forgotten about in true D'Amato style by the unnecessary scenes of nudity and/or accompanying violence. Although, in this instance the latter is severely lacking, save for the gratuitous pig gutting and Voodoo sacrifice sequences. I would assume that this film got marketed as a cannibal film purely to piggy back on the success of the then-recently emerging 'cannibal-boom', since the it only has roughly 2 scenes of actual cannibalism.



The film hauls itself along at a snail's pace, further padded out by unnecessary dialogue between Lane and Poli. In fairness to D'Amato, his background work as a cinematographer shines throughout, scenes are perfectly framed and the camera work is crisp.
He succeeds in creating a moody atmosphere, specifically in a scene wherein Lane and Poli stumble upon a seemingly deserted shantytown, as the couple investigate further, a horse-drawn carriage passes them by, missing its human occupant. A scene which might actually hold weight in a straight laced horror film, is in this instance, simply overlooked.

Perhaps the only saving grave is Melissa Chimenti's portrayal of Papaya, the seductive Island beauty. As she appears to be the only character in the entire film who has...character. Sirpa Lane, most well known for her scandalous performance in Walerian Borowocyzk's The Beast/La bête (1975), holds a persistently perplexed expression in almost every scene and Maurice Poli remains smug and nonchalant throughout, even during the film's sex scenes.

I think most genre fans yet to see this will be let down by it, but if you like me, are willing to endure a D'Amato picture, I would assume you already know what you're in for.

1 Star

17 comments:

Alex Jowski said...

Love Joe D'Amato movies! I don't think I've seen this one but it sounds like the typical D'Amato fare.

Pixel said...

Oh my you guys are BAD!

Retro-Zombie said...

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Jordan in Texas said...

Mmm. This sounds utterly boring. Never had the inclination to see it, and now I don't think I ever will.

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Paul WJM said...

Was this the Shameless DVD you watched? Shame about the absence of horror in this film as I think, from what you've said, it could have done with an injection of such to make it more interesting! Still, there are elements that sound quite intriging from you review (e.g. that deserted shanty town you mention, and the horse carriage).

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