Papaya: Love Goddess Of The Cannibals – DVD Review

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In the Caribbean, Vincent, the designer for a nuclear power plant that is being built on a small island, along with a reporter named Sara who is on vacation, cross paths, and their past desires for each other are rekindled. This passion is doubled when a local native named Papaya takes them on a journey of uninhibited sexuality as she tries to persuade Vincent not to build the power plant, and becomes filled with lust for Sara. Vincent and Sara also become witnesses to a secret yearly voodoo ceremony in Papaya’s village. While Sara becomes a strong believer in Papaya’s cause, Vincent holds steady on his determination to build the plant, and the villagers have to make a decision as to what will become of the unwelcome presence of the white man.

Love him or hate him, director Joe D’Amato is not only the undisputed king of Italian sleaze, but he is also an absolute marvel at what he does. His cinematography takes on the scenery of the Caribbean setting with the eye of a travelogue, making each shot of distant mountains and palm tree covered beaches a beckoning call as to where your next vacation should be spent. And of course his eye for blending sensuality with pure sexuality is practically unparalleled. While keeping his film just below pure XXX entertainment, D’Amato does not shy away from what the audiences, both male and female, equally want.

The chosen title for this 1978 sun-splashed tale may draw similarity to D’Amato’s Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals or Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, but the movie itself is much more focused on creating a tropical softcore porno rather than blending erotica and horror. In fact, there are only two short sequences of bloodshed in the entire film. The first is during the main opening sequence that will have all men wincing, while the second is a brief moment during the frenzied voodoo ritual and the only instance of cannibalism within the entire feature.

Aside from these two moments, D’Amato and screenwriter Roberto Gandus seem acutely interested in filling the screen with as much nudity and sex as the possible, and use the wafer-thin storyline (which to its credit does have a strong environmental message/warning) to move the characters from one romp to the next. For almost the entire film’s running time, the three main characters are partially if not fully undressed and in some state of arousal.

The singularly-named Melissa, as Papaya, is indeed a goddess in physical form, while Sirpa Lane who rose to international notoriety in The Beast, as Sara is blonde perfection. Their mere presence on the screen is enough to get the heart racing, and that is even before they shed their clothes. Maurice Poli, as Vincent, rounds out the trio and is the epitome of the Italian man. With scene after scene of steamy coitus, D’Amato is careful to keep switching around bedroom partners and number of people involved to keep the action fresh, while making sure that a carefully placed limb or sheet keeps the film outside hardcore territory. The orgy of nude dancing and the lone seduction of Sara by Papaya rank high up on heat index, and will surely become scenes to return to for proper “studying.”

This is by no means D’Amato’s best work, but completists will be happy to have this one in the home collection finally, while more casual film viewers may find this to be a satisfying introduction to the impossibly vast world of the Italian auteur and what he has to offer the senses.

Severin Films’ uncut and uncensored print of PAPAYA LOVE GODDESS OF THE CANNIBALS (the print itself uses the alternate title CARIBBEAN PAPAYA) has been fully restored from an Italian vault print. The anamorphic widescreen picture is a little soft at times, but there is hardly any visible damage, and the colors are pristine. The English dub, which is the only audio option, is presented in Dolby Surround.

Theatrical Trailer

The uninhibited sexuality and carnal lust of the seventies remains alive and well in the available works of Joe D’Amato, and this slice of sleazy exploitation certainly aims to keep that tradition going. Sirpa Lane’s beauty alone is worth the price of admission.


Severin Films presents Papaya Love Goddess Of The Cannibals. Directed by Joe D’Amato. Starring Melissa, Sirpa Lane, Maurice Polie. Written by Roberto Gandus. Running time: 89 minutes. Not Rated. Released on DVD: June 24th, 2008. Available at