Director: Ruggero Deodato
Writer: Gianfranco Clerici
Starring: Robert Kerman, Francesa Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen
Review By: Griff
I first heard about this movie while reading an issue of Film Comment back around 2005. This is when Grindhouse released a deluxe edition DVD. For those who are not in the know, this is easily one of the most infamous movies ever made. Ten days after it was first released in Italy Ruggero Deodato was arrested and the film was confiscated. He was brought up on obscenity and eventually murder charges when the authorities became convinced that he had made a snuff film. Deodato actually had to produce the actors in court to prove that they were in fact, still alive.
This movie is one of the forefathers of the “found footage” genre. The story revolves around a missing film crew who have disappeared while on an expedition in the Amazon. They were there to film a documentary about a cannibal tribe that lives in the area.
Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman), an anthropologist from NY agrees to go to the Amazon to try and find the missing crew. After a series of misadventures, he recovers the missing crews cans of film. On the film is a documentary that explains what happened to the film crew…
After searching around quite a bit I was able to find a copy of this movie for sale at Newbury Comics back in Shrewsbury, MA. (Is that even still around?) I rounded up a group of friends who I had talked up this movie to and we grabbed a case of beer and buckled in for the ride. We were somewhere around the half hour mark or so when one my friends stood up, said “This is sick,” and walked out the door.
This movie is that disgusting. I guarantee there will be something in this movie to offend everyone. It is brutal and dark and the kind of movie that will leave you looking at the world like it is a dirty place for days afterwards. There are things in this movie you will never un-see. It runs the gamut from torture, to rape, to genital mutilation. But for me anyway, the most truly horrifying aspect of the film is the animal cruelty. Quite a few animals are killed on screen and unlike the acts of violence committed on the humans, it is all real. A pig is shot in the head, a turtle is ripped apart, (The scene that inspired my friend to go home.) you get the idea.
Deodato has said that he made this film after he saw some news coverage of terrorism. He thought that they were sensationalizing the violence and embellishing elements for their own benefit. Cannibal Holocaust is supposed to be making a statement about modern society and how we all behave. In the movie, the film crew that is shooting the documentary become frustrated with how docile the tribes people are and they start manipulating events in order to provoke a reaction and make a better a film. This of course leads to dire consequences. When the tribes people do take revenge, their actions seem justified and we are left to ponder “who the real cannibals are?”
It’s difficult for me to say that I liked this film. I found the animal violence repulsive and I have a hard time buying into the fact that you need to make a movie like this in order to get your point across. Am I glad that I saw it? In some ways yes, It does have it’s place in movie history. It is the granddaddy of the found footage and the Cannibal genre. At it’s core it does try to have something to say about society but my recommendation for everyone out there is to leave this one alone. Gore fans will most likely enjoy this one and it is effective at what it does but this is a brutal unrelenting film that will leave you feeling empty inside. I have loaned this movie to other friends with this same warning and they have returned it to me unwatched saying they “just couldn’t do it.” I am going to give you that same advice. Just don’t do it.
I give Cannibal Holocaust 1 and 1/2 guys out of 3.
The Trailer: Warning! Boobies ahead!