Another release from Full Moon’s recent “Grindhouse Collection” (see my take on THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE and DREAMANIAC) is a later entry from the ever-infamous Italian jungle/cannibal genre, SCHIAVE BIANCHE: VIOLENZA IN AMAZZONIA, which had been re-christened CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST II in some parts of the world (as an attempt to cash in on Ruggero Deodato’s notoriety), but is perhaps best known today (to American audiences, that is) as AMAZONIA: THE CATHERINE MILES STORY. It was also released under the Force Video label in the mid 1980s as WHITE SLAVE, which is the title is still bears for this DVD release. This DVD also features the same ol’ print the Force Video version utilized – but more on that later.
The story here concerns a misfortunate blonde-haired beauty named Catherine Miles (temporary Euro actress Elvire Audray), whose parents were murdered by savages right before her eyes as they were gallivanting about the Amazon on the young lady’s 18th birthday. The headhunters take a couple of souvenirs from the mini massacre: the heads of both mom and dad as well as a terrified Catherine, who goes on to live with the tribe by force, eventually becoming the “property” of the young virile warrior Umukai (Will Gonzales) in the process — but not before experiencing her fair share of humiliation at the hands of the tiny village’s inhabitants.
Much like the famous film certain distributors attempted to pass itself off as a sequel to, WHITE SLAVE is told in a documentary style of filmmaking. We’re told that Catherine Miles was a real individual, and that the following film is based on actual events. The opening sequence finds us in London, with an unseen Catherine talking to a journalist about her ordeal before venturing into a flashback as our heroine relays her terrifying ordeal to a Latin American court. Yup, that‘s right: we get a flashback within a flashback — something only the Italians could pull off! A narrator even pops up at the beginning and conclusion of the film to sell the “authenticity” of the product even more.
To be honest, WHITE SLAVE really isn’t a cannibal movie. There’s a warring tribe of man-eaters who are seen very briefly, but the headhunters poor Catherine lives with aren’t the kind to consume human flesh. The real monsters here – much like Robert Kerman pondered in CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST — are the “civilized” folks; something that is hinted at in the beginning of WHITE SLAVE, and revealed as time goes on. The story here (by Franco Prosperi, who also wrote and co-directed HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD with Mario Bava, and later penned THE GREEN INFERNO, which was also re-titled CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST II in some countries) is not as haunting or as memorable as its jungle setting siblings, and director Mario Gariazzo (who also brought us THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW and the overlooked EYES BEHIND THE STARS, and is credited here under the pseudonym of Roy Garrett) handles the project rather adeptly for an exploitation flick. Oh, and there’s a bit of nudity, too — and gore. And that works for me!
Out of the three selections from the Grindhouse Collection I have seen thus far, WHITE SLAVE is the best-looking one of the bunch. The Full Frame presentation has still been mastered from a video source by the looks of things, and the usual quality disclaimer appears before the movie starts. Interestingly enough, though, if you compare Full Moon’s release of this title to Shriek Show’s widescreen version from 2005, you’ll note that this budget priced title (it sells for a whopping $10 on Full Moon’s website) is brighter. Several day-for-night shots are shown with a blue filter on the Shriek Show release, but are clearly visible in this print.
Even if you own the other DVD, you might want to pick this one up just to see how much of a difference there is during those scenes. The Full Moon print almost looks as though it could be a couple of seconds longer, but I’ll leave that comparison to the more eagle-eyed exploitation aficionados out there. (Adam Becvar)
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