Risk – Joe D’Amato’s ‘Papaya: Love Goddess Of The Cannibals’ (1978)

16 Jul

Papaya: Love Goddess Of The Cannibals has enlightened me of one thing and one thing only. The papaya fruit is actually quite big in reality and not as small as Tropicana’s packaging would have me believe. But this film isn’t about fruit juice, no, it’s about Papaya (Melissa Chimenti), the female leader of a cannibal tribe who literally seduces and destroys a team of geologists who try  to rid an island of her tribe.

Now, when I say seduce and destroy, I really do mean seduce and destroy. Take the poor sod who falls for Papaya in the first five minutes of the film. After some erotic massage and great sex, she bites off his penis mid blow job and then sets the wooden hut he is in on fire so he burns to death. All because he wants to build a nuclear reactor on the island. Is this Joe D’Amato’s attempt at nuclear power politics? I won’t go that far, but lets not dismiss this example of exploitation cinema from holding such a message. Shot and released the year after Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, the feature is much the same – beautiful locations, some steamy sex scenes and a bunch of bloody murders to bulk out the cannibal plot line. Sadly, Emanuelle just feels a little more superior and Papaya feels like a very premature rip-off (D-Amato directed both films).

Having said that, Papaya is still worth a watch. Chimenti is absolutely beautiful as the titular Papaya and Sirpa Lane as reporter Sara is a perfect juxtaposition against her in both looks and character. It’s also a bit of fun as are most of D’Amato’s pictures, not exactly cinematic gems but brilliant exploitation genre films none the less.

For me, there’s just one problem. D’Amato can’t make rubbing a papaya over your body look fun or erotic. For food fun, Nine 1/2 Weeks did it so much better.

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