Elvire Audray (who died at forty) is the eponymous Catherine Miles, teenage daughter to a pair of wealthy plantation owners on the banks of the Amazon. Our story begins as she, her parents and aunt and uncle, take a boat trip down the river to celebrate her graduation from boarding school in London. The boat is attacked, and Catherine’s parents are both killed (prior to having their heads hacked off), before she’s kidnapped by an indigenous tribe and taken deep into the jungle. She initially resists their primitive ways before gradually, across the course of a year in “captivity”, adopting their customs. All the while, Catherine nurtures her eventual revenge once she’s certain of who the killers were.
The narrative plays in flashback as part of a bridging trial sequence, the film having informed us via opening caption that it’s a true story. Of course, it isn’t. But the structure (while influenced perhaps by the narrative devices used in Cannibal Holocaust five years earlier) allows the audience more of an insight into the filmmakers’ intentions than the acting probably will. It’s all a bit wooden, and that’s being generous.
Having said that, the jungle sequences which take up most of the running time are generally rather handsomely shot (albeit including a fair amount of stock footage), and while this isn’t a film that would be likely to include a “no animals were harmed” end credit, there is at least an attempt to understand and promote the simpler lifestyle that Catherine finds herself living with the tribe. Indeed, when she returns to civilisation for the eventual and inevitable showdown with the killers, it’s almost disappointing to see her make the choice.
There’s a gorgeous but not always appropriate sub-Morricone/Donaggio score by Franco Campanino, accompanying the story of the native tribe member (Will Gonzales, in what is unsurprisingly his only film credit) who falls for Catherine, and who Catherine eventually falls for in return. Plus plenty of nakedness, less gratuitously shot than you might expect, and lots of rather abrupt head-hacking.
There’s some artifacting during the darker sequences, but the Blu-ray generally looks pretty good, if not spectacular. But the set includes a fascinating fifty-minute documentary on the Italian cannibal genre, that easily makes it worth the purchase for the aficionado.
Extras: Trailer, The Last Supper: The Final Days of the Italian Cannibal Film documentary, interview with cameraman Federico Del Zoppo
REVIEW: AMAZONIA: THE CATHERINE MILES STORY (aka CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST II; THE CATHERINE MILES STORY) / DIRECTOR: MARIO GARIAZZO (as ROY GARRETT) / SCREENPLAY: FRANCO PROSPERI / STARRING: ELVIRE AUDRAY, WILL GONZALES, DICK CAMPBELL, ANDREW LOUIS (aka ANDREA) COPPOLA / CERT: 18 /RELEASE DATE: 20TH AUGUST 2018