Directed By Joe D’Amato
Starring Melissa Chimenti, Sirpa Lane
Those of you who know me, by reading a lot here or checking out the podcast, know that I am an unabashed fan of Eurotrash films of the late 60’s and 70’s. These are most often not great films, but that’s what makes them so much fun. They’re exploitative, campy, often terribly written, and they play against some classically beautiful backdrops in various areas in Europe. Joe D’Amato director of nearly 200 projects from 1972 to 2002 has a fairly eclectic filmography including a series of cannibal inspired films, some good, some bad, and some that fall somewhere in between.
D’Amato shot this film during his time in the Dominican Republic, where he shot several films. Watching this film I was reminded why I typically prefer Jess Franco doing these kinds of films because regardless of plot Franco was always able to make whatever film he was working look interesting, either with interesting sets, cinematography, or assembly. Not saying that D’Amato is a slouch at this kind of filmmaking because he definitely isn’t but you can tell when he’s rushing through a project versus when he’s taking time and crafting a film. Papaya is more of a rush job, but it still has its merits making it worth discussion. As rushed as the film feels D’Amato still manages to frame some shots gorgeously and even make a slum look beautiful too.
By calling this film a rush job I think I’m focusing more on the development of the story rather than the shooting and cutting of the film. Also, the budget on this film feels a bit on the low side, even for a D’Amato film. Once the main characters hit the slum though, there are some great shots that kept me watching the film. It’s a bit tough to describe what this film is about because I wonder myself if D’Amato and crew really knew what the film was about when they were making it. There’s some fairly innocuous sex to be had by a couple and Papaya and Papaya gets ticked off early on and drops some I Spit on Your Grave style violence on one guy. There’s also a side story about some natives being concerned about a nuclear power plant. Later in the film things do finally get to the level of weird you’d expect, and hope for, in a D’Amato film but it’s just a long time coming.
Papaya: Love Goddess of the Cannibals is a really tame film for D’Amato. The sex scenes are Cinemax level and the gore is barely “R” rated just not what we expect from D’Amato. If you’re a fan of bizarre exploitation films of the 70’s then this one’s still worth a rent.
This widescreen presentation is better looking than I expected it to be considering the age of the print. The image is fairly clear if a bit soft. There’s also a good bit of grain, print damage, and grit on the print but through it all the detail is better than many films of this era. It’s a rough presentation but considering the age and quality of the source material it looks really good.
The Dolby Digital presentation here is quite good, like the video, considering the age and quality of the source. The presentation is surprisingly clean featuring little distortion. Dialogue is easy to hear throughout even though it’s just a bit muddy.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The packaging here is great for this single disc release with the art featuring a redo of the retro poster art from the film’s original release. Great stuff. The only bonus feature on the disc is a theatrical trailer. One of the things that makes these film so much fun on DVD are great interviews and commentaries from the people involved with the film. D’Amato has passed away as has Sirpa Lane but if nothing else getting some genre experts to discuss the films would have been appreciated extras.
Papaya: Love Goddess of the Cannibals doesn’t rank anywhere near D’Amato’s best works but it might be weird enough for a night’s viewing.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
The Movie 6/10
The Video 6/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 2/10
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10