The Naked Prey
Sixties survival thriller The Naked Prey sets off on a bad footing, with an uncomfortable voiceover that’s liable to trigger alarm bells in modern audiences (“A hundred years ago, Africa was a vast, dark unknown… And man, lacking the will to understand other men, became like beasts”). The suspicions linger into an opening act that prefigures the “savage tribe” brand of video nasty typified by Cannibal Holocaust, as a group of white hunters are set upon by barbaric natives and subjected to graphically inventive tortures.
Then, gradually, over the course of an extended cat-and-mouse chase across scorched scrubland, a more nuanced, critical work emerges. Ex-matinee idol Cornel Wilde impresses on both sides of the camera, giving a committed, physical performance in the lead role and keeping the action lean and relentless in his capacity as director, and, while some representational choices have dated better than others, the final result more than holds up. [Chris Buckle]