I have been on a quest now, for the past decade or so, to watch every off the cuff, exploitative, Avant-garde, artsy, cult and B movie out there. I would have to say, for the most part, I have done a pretty good job (yet still work to be done). I have many notches in my belt and it was just a question of time before I would watch “Cannibal Holocaust”!
I have known of this movie for many, many years but have been dragging my feet to actually watch it. The primary reason, to be perfectly frank was I had no real interest in watching actual animals killed/tortured on camera. I will return to this notion a bit later. Notwithstanding, I finally decided to “suck it up” and lose myself in everything that is “Cannibal Holocaust”.
I am not going to rehash what has already been stated about this being the most controversial and banned movie ever made. Watch it for yourself and decide on your own. The plot is very straightforward; a college professor travels into the jungles of South America to recover the film footage of a missing film crew. There are many theories and much speculation on what did or did not happen to them. Therefore finding the film is paramount in understanding their fate.
Using the ruse of paraphrasing, the professor uses a guide, goes in the jungle meets some natives and is able to attain the footage. The footage is then brought to New York City and is reviewed by the professor and media producers interested in making the lost footage into a documentary. The moral of the story, and I don’t think I am giving anything away, is who really are savages, the “primitive man” or the “sophisticated man”?
Is this movie as raw as its reputation precedes itself? Yes and no. I have viewed many gory and graphic movies. “Cannibal Holocaust” is an Italian horror film and Italy is known for pumping out some pretty gruesome stuff. Decapitation, eating human flesh, nudity, killing, violent raping, violent sex, torture of people and animals are some the elements viewed in this film. Some of it was pulled off well, where some of it was really cheesy. Fake heads, shoddy acting and some of the special effects were awful. There are better gore flicks out there. And the soundtrack has some music that sounds like unreleased ABBA instrumentals, which seemed totally out of place, what’s that about?
The part of this movie that really rubbed me the wrong way was the killing and (yes) torturing of real animals. This motive was purely exploitive and did nothing for the film itself. I have heard some critical response saying that seeing these animals killed isn’t anything worse than what one might see on the National Geography Channel. Well if I may be so bold, I have yet to see any NG program show natives cut a turtle up with an ax and then play with its head. Or a coati that is being stabbed in the neck with a dagger as it shakes and shrieks. How about a pig kicked then shot? Also if an animal is killed on a NG program, it is by the natives, who need the animals as a source of food. In this movie most animals aren’t brought to their demise by natives. Under the assumption that realism was the goal, use fake animals for close ups. If you have a good editor then it will look authentic.
Perhaps I am sounding a bit too sensitive or wimpy about animals that have perished well over 30 years ago. However, I watched this movie with a friend of mine and he didn’t care for the animals being killed either. As a matter of fact, it bugged him several days afterward. Not that I was pleased about seeing murder, torture and rape, but this was done by actors, who were acting (some not that well). Therefore it allows me the viewer to know that this is make-believe, not real. Now if I can be freaked out (or moved) by a performance and know it was make-believe, and then you have the ingredients for a damn good movie.
Bottom line, gore hounds and B movie buffs are going to want to see this movie. I did, despite my personal protests, so my review is not intended to keep or discourage anyone from watching this film. I did find aspects of the movie interesting; the “lost footage” angle was the original “Blair Witch Project”. The moral was also a timeless message. However, this is not a movie I would return to. I watch many movies again and again. Out of pleasure or nostalgia, this movie I suppose has some merits, but it was purely something I can now cross of my bucket list.
**** out of **** "The one that goes all the way!" "The Most Controversial Film of All-Time!" "Ripout! Barbeque! Devour! How long can you take it?" So goes just three of the many taglines for Ruggero Deodato's infamous "Cannibal Holocaust"; a film that once tested the limits and tolerance of exploitation, and still does to this day. I don't have a very hard time imagining that even some of the most faithful horror/exploitation film-goers will find it difficult to watch; even … more
Call me crazy if you must but I love the mondo-canibale genre & will buy any film made by Lenzi or Deodato which exploits cannibalism. This, by far, may be one of the most difficult ones for me to stomach however as it's very disturbing. Needless to say, it rocks! Unlike other cannibal films in this genre, this one actually forces us to question who the real cannibals are. After we're finished watching the film, we are left with too many questions to ask ourselves … more
It is rather brisk in this field. The leaves are descending like a tapestry of aloof dreams. The wind entices these leaves into a plume of whimsical billowing ontological paradox. Then I recall that I … more
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Ten days after the film was released, Ruggero Deodato was arrested for "obscenity" and was later charged with murder and faced life in prison because the authorities belived that the actors were really murdered on camera. The charges were dropped when the actors appeared in front of court. Deodato's charges were dismissed but the film was banned in Italy for 3 years.