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Cannibal Holocaust (1980)


Cannibal Holocaust

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?”

One of the most famous scenes from the movie


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.



My Copy of the DVD


The Trailer: Warning! Boobies ahead!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Adam June 22, 2012, 8:45 am

    yeah Mark, I think I will be taking a pass on this one ;-)

  • Asrap June 22, 2012, 8:46 am

    Yup, this is the real forefather of found footage, way before Blair Witch. I first saw this in 2001 and didn’t know any background on this film including the director’s court case. Me and my friends actually thought it was real at that time! I don’t like gore films so I can’t really say I fully enjoyed this, but it did leave a lasting impression.

  • scottydynamite June 22, 2012, 9:16 am

    Your review and pictures were disturbing enough.

  • rrclimber June 22, 2012, 9:35 am

    Chickens lol, Anytime you want to borrow the DVD just let me know. :-D
    If for some reason you want some more info check out Eli Roth saying it is one of his 5 favorite films on RT (Notice also that he talks about Who Can Kill a Child? That yours truly has reviewed on this site)


    Also head on over to Trailers from Hell for some commentary by Stuart Gordon (Director or Re-Animator


    • Adam June 22, 2012, 10:41 am

      only way I am watching this is if we get to have bbq ribs and some wings while we watch it.

  • MarkusWelby1 June 22, 2012, 11:05 am

    I’ve never mustered up the courage to watch this one, but I love the tagline “it’s better to rest in the warm belly of a friend than in the cold earth”

  • Klash June 22, 2012, 11:23 am

    Having been one of the chosen few in the group Mark mentioned I remember that fateful day. I recall drinking many beers and asking myself on numerous occasions what the hell I was watching. I also remember the person whose name I won’t mention walking out of the house after expressing their disgust with the movie, that was the only humorous moment within that entire time. The rest is a blurred downward spiral of gore and slaughter, and thats not because of the beer.

    This is definitely one of those movies that if you opt to watch you should know what you’re getting into.

    • Adam June 22, 2012, 11:54 am

      So who was it that walked out before all the beer was gone????

      • rrclimber June 22, 2012, 2:32 pm

        Listen, It’s absolutely alright. We don’t need to call him out on the internet. ;-)

        • Adam June 22, 2012, 3:36 pm

          nothing wrong with tossing someone under the bus of truth… besides he was probably the smartest guy in that whole situation ;-)

    • rrclimber June 22, 2012, 2:33 pm

      Klash I don’t what was worse. Sitting through this or sitting through Ultraviolet. At least we had beers for this one…

      • Klash June 22, 2012, 3:28 pm

        Oh sweet Jesus, I had forgotten all about that horrific movie…
        You make a really good point as I believe someone still owes me a refund for sitting through that crapfest. Hell I’ll even settle for delivering a free shot to the kidney as an alternative to cash.

  • Pete June 23, 2012, 1:12 am

    I was um ‘lucky’ enough to meet the director at a conference last year. Seemed so very ordinary for the director of such an extreme film. It’s a disgrace the animal cruelty in the film and unforgiveable. Would never have watched it if I didn’t have to for my thesis. Apart from that though, I’ve gotta admit it’s a hell of a powerful, disturbing bit of film.

    • rrclimber June 23, 2012, 10:31 am

      Thanks for the comment Pete! While I was doing some research for this post I found out that after seeing the Hostel movies he thought there was an audience for his films again and he was gearing up to do a Cannibal Holocaust part 2. (He has a cameo in the second Hostel film) It looks like that has been scrapped though. It does look like we are going to get a House on the Edge of the Park part II though…Not sure we really need a part two of that film.

  • Novroz June 23, 2012, 8:44 am

    Euuuch!! I will never see this movie…EVER!!
    I like violence movies when it happens in battlefield like Ninja assassin (the story is stupid but the blood effect is awesome) or Saving Private Ryan…but movies like this, where they torture human in a sick way really going to make me sick.

    And then you add it up with torturing animals for real!!! If I saw the DVD in front of me, I would throw with down the river. This part> a turtle is ripped apart < is the sickest of all, as a mother of three turtles and damn proud of raising them (I even make a blog special for them) I don't think I have the heart to see that scene.

    Thank you for letting me know such hideous movie exist and I will avoid it easily.

    • Adam June 23, 2012, 9:50 am

      I am with you, not my cup of tea either lol

    • rrclimber June 23, 2012, 10:42 am

      Definitely not a movie for everyone. I like to think I have a pretty strong stomach for this stuff and I am horror fan but this is a truly disturbing film. That said, it is considered the high water mark for an entire sub-genre of cannibal movies made by Italian directors during the 70’s and 80’s. If for some reason you want to read more about it. Fearnet has a nice post about some of the the other highlights (or lowlights) of the genre. http://www.fearnet.com/news/b15941_fearnets_guide_italian_cannibal_horror.html

      I promise a little bit lighter fare for next weeks Freaky Friday :-D

  • Eric June 24, 2012, 4:03 pm

    I know my curiosity will get the better of me someday and I will sit down to watch this. Some things just need to be seen to be believed, for better or for worse.

  • Jan Arzooman August 20, 2012, 7:41 pm

    Agree with scottydynamite: “Your review and pictures were disturbing enough.” I can’t believe someone would really kill animals for the sake of … “art” or “making a statement about society”?

    But thanks for sitting through it and writing about it. I would NEVER have the stomach for it. Ugh.

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