Although Biblically themed films have been produced probably as long as the Bible itself has been in existence, 2014 has been an especially fruitful year for consecrated celluloid. Noah, Son of God, God’s Not Dead, and Heaven is for Real have already proven their worth at the box office this year, while Ridley Scott’s Exodus, Mary, Mother of Christ, the life story of Mother Theresa, and rapture epic Left Behind, starring the otherworldly Nicolas Cage, will be unleashed with an Old Testament fury by the end of the year.
Add these to such classics as The Last Temptation of Christ , The Passion of the Christ, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and, I don’t know, The Magic Christian, and one can see how religious themed films have long been a mainstay of commercial cinema.
Entering the fray in 1983 is an underappreciated classic of Italian cinema Adam and Eve Versus the Cannibals, also known by its original title, Adamo ed Eva, la prima storia d'amore, which translates, roughly, to Adam and Eve: The First Love Story. One of the many things to love about Italian cinema is how the movies generally come with a variety of titles. For example, our spicy little specimen here is known in various incarnations as Blue Paradise, as well as the plain and simple Adam and Eve. I can only assume that one of its many titles is its porn name.
Since there are no reported protests against the religious contents of Adam and Eve Versus the Cannibals, it is probably safe to speculate that its essential substance must be Biblically accurate. Amazon.com lists the last DVD production of this film on January 8, 2013, and I can’t find any instance of religious groups boycotting its release, or appearing on American news shows to argue against its depiction of Biblical narratives. As such, I will assume that what we are witnessing is true. Considering that all manner of Hell was raised by evangelical groups upon the releases of Noah, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Monty Python’s Life of Brian, one must wonder where dissenting voices were upon the original release of Adam and Eve Versus the Cannibals in 1983, or its DVD counterpart in 2013.
Finally, the true story of Adam and Eve to educate the children. Let’s take a look, shall we.
The first thing we notice is that the beginning of the world looks an awful lot like one would imagine the end of the world is going to look. As the universe is created amidst a cacophony of lightning storms and lava flows, one almost expects the on-screen credits to be read to us in a sonorous, echoing voice, befitting the occasion. Adam is born from a giant egg-like pod, like some type of body snatcher, and somehow transports himself to the top of a mountain, luxuriating in the sunset like Roger Daltrey in Tommy. So far, so good. I’m sold.
Then, Creation takes sort of a turn for the bizarre. Remember that scene in The Master when Joaquin Phoenix makes a woman out of sand on the beach? And then humps it to holy hell? Well, that’s sort of how Adam creates Eve, according to this film. I recognize that this is not a standard interpretation of Genesis, but this is an Italian film, and since The Pope lives in Italy, I figure they know a thing or two about Creation. And, hey---since nobody has yet come out in the press to dispute this particular rendering of events, who am I to argue, and what am I to believe?
In addition, Adam is kind of hunky, in that 1983 untamed rock star sort of way, and Eve is just a little cutie. Who knew? And when the actors playing Adam and Eve, Mark Gregory and Andrea Goldman, speak flawless, fluent Italian, Italians everywhere can rejoice in having their suspicions confirmed that Italy is truly the beginning of the world, and the center of the universe. Adam and Eve Versus the Cannibals said it, so it must be true. But then, we must also believe that Mark Gregory and Andrea Goldman are the real names of the Italian actors playing Adam and Eve. Check.
But one can never be sure what to believe from an Italian Biblical epic, or a movie with five different names, or a film where the producer/director, Enzo Doria, is also credited throughout his career as Enzo Passadore, E.F. Doria, Ezio Passadore, Enzo P. Doria, and Vincent Green. Yes, the same Enzo Doria that brought us such classics as The Sleazy Uncle (1989), Ups and Downs of a Super Stud (1979), and of course, Private Lessons, with Carroll Baker in 1975.
Even Luigi Rossi, Doria’s co-writer on Adam and Eve Versus the Cannibals (one of eight co-writers), directs under the pseudonym John Wilder, and edited the film as Alan O'Neal. Really. One must wonder if there are certain nomenclature policies that govern obscure Italian sci-fi horror cinema, or if this whole movie was simply some witness protection scheme for wayward heretics.
However, there is still plenty more scriptural scholarship to consider. For example, this might be a good time to ask; what’s all this about the cannibals, then? Good question.
Apparently, while the earth has been populated with an abundance of wild creatures, like tigers, leopards, rutting lions, flamingos, and parrots, to name but a few of the wondrous bounty, there also appear to be pterodactyls and matted haired cave dwelling monkey people. Now, if the film is suggesting that Adam and Eve fought it out with cavemen, it would not be inconceivable for Jesus to come riding up on a dinosaur at any moment, right? But, alas, it is not meant to be.
Fortunately, the film is no poorer for that. For example, we learn that Adam and Eve are really the Ralph and Alice Kramden of Biblical times, with all of their bickering and one-upmanship. We also learn from Adam and Eve Versus the Cannibals that the cave people were at war with the Indians (again, who knew?), and also that the cave people were very fond of grabbing Adam’s package (which, possibly, could have made a worthy subtitle). I don’t remember this in the King James version of Genesis, but maybe it is in one of the later editions. Finally, it is cleared up once and for all that anal was the preferred form of hit and run in olden times. Obviously, the filmmakers were translating their information from Genesis After Dark.
I don’t want to spoil the ending, but let’s just say that Adam and Eve Versus the Cannibals fills in many of the missing gaps from The Bible that we never knew existed. Take that, Noah!
Anthony Galli currently lives in Athens, Georgia. He shares a birthday with his black cat, Magic, and they both claim Wings of Desire as their favorite film. Anthony has published two books of poetry, Amnesia for Insomniacs and Invisible Idiot.