Whilst the rise of the British Empire and European colonialism may have been profitable for rich white men, it certainly was no fun for the natives. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness paints the picture of the nightmarish side of Africa but for the most part it was a continent raped of its natural resources and seen as an adventure playground and piggy bank for enterprising businessmen. In Cornel Wilde’s The Naked Prey he shows what can happen when hunter becomes the hunted.
A professional safari guide (Wilde) is leading an expedition for two white men on an elephant hunt in the African Veld. After the head of the party (Patrick Mynhardt) insults one of the local tribes they’re all captured. The rest of the party are brutally killed but the safari guide is given the fate of running for his life. He is perused by several of the tribesmen, led by Ken Gampu, and has to use all of his skills and luck to evade their pursuit whilst battling the local wildlife.
The Naked Prey is a very straightforward film but one which works well due to its relentless pace. Wild Africa is showcased in all its glory, and there are times where you have expect a David Attenborough voiceover to kick-in. It’s rather liberal for its time, and whilst the action itself is as unforgiving as the landscape, it’s nuanced to a degree in the power-relationship between coloniser and the colonised. The Naked Prey is the type of action film seldom seen today and it’s a lot of fun.
- Gorgeous 1080p presentation of the film on Blu-ray
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- New and exclusive interview with film historian Sheldon Hall
- Original theatrical trailer
- 28-page booklet featuring the historical account that provided the basis for the film, an interview with Wilde and archival imagery
The Naked Prey is released on Dual Format by Eureka as part of their Masters of Cinema collection and is out now.