Cannibal HolocaustDirector: Ruggero Deodato
While Umberto Lenzi began the Italian-made cycle of brutal Amazonian cannibal horrors with Il Paese del Sesso Selvaggio and effectively ended it with the nauseating Cannibal Ferox, it was Ruggero Deodato who directed the subgenre's most enduring film. This popular bloodbath features a fetus ripped from a woman's body, people impaled on spikes, a genuine tortoise-flaying, and numerous other indignities, both real and simulated. The plot concerns the efforts of a group of American explorers to discover the fate of a missing documentary film crew. They receive a scratchy film-reel containing the bloody truth from a tribe of tree-dwelling natives, and the reel's contents make up the bulk of the film. Advertisements claimed that "the crew who filmed it were actually devoured alive by cannibals," yet most of them were spotted alive in future unsavory gore films. While the film is undoubtedly gruesome enough to satisfy fans, its mixture of nauseating mondo animal slaughter, repulsive sexual violence, and pie-faced attempts at socially conscious moralizing make it rather distasteful morally as well. The fact that the film's sole spokesperson for the anti-exploitation perspective is played by porno star Richard Bolla should give an indication of where its sympathies lie.
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Cast & Crew
|Robert Kerman||Professor Harold Monroe|
|Francesca Ciardi||Faye Daniels|
|Perry Pirkanen||Jack Anders|
|Luca Barbareschi||Mark Tomaso|
|Salvatore Basile||Chaco Losojos|
|Paolo Paoloni||Chief NY Executive|
|Riz Ortolani||Score Composer|
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This film is notorious for polarising audiences; people either love it or hate it, and for different reasons. The reasons to hate it are pretty obvious: it's a grainy, intentionally shocking, intentionally repulsive piece of work. The portrayal of the Amazon natives is essentially racist. The actors are largely inexperienced stage performers. Still, it's these elements that give it its realism, subversiveness, and quirky sort of "charm". All at once, it attempts to both disgust the audience in the way that earlier classic pieces of art, such as _Un Chien Andalou_'s infamous razor and eye scene, and Eraserhead's grotesque reptillian "baby" had before -- only instead of the surreal, Cannibal Holocaust aims for a sort of hyperrealism to the point that it was investigated as a potential "snuff film" (wherein a performer is filmed actually being murdered; it was quickly discovered that no human died on screen or during any stage of filming Cannibal Holocaust, though six animals were filmed being slaughtered, a piglet was shot, and five other animals, including a large turtle, a coati, and a New World monkey are killed and dismembered with knives). The super-realism is necessary for the film's social commentary about civilization, and begs the audience to ask whether or not civilization is either something to strive for, or if it is actually any different from those "savage" cultures that civilizations fears and prefers to avoid. An especially disturbing scene I found was when the documentary crew is shown first setting an Amazon tribal village on fire and then the characters in the "film crew" who are dating then proceed to have sex atop the ashes as the villagers watch -- while the story of the film treats the real tribe within it fictitiously to the point of appearing racist, this one powerful scene inverts the film's merely _apparent_ racism and, in reality, is portraying the white documentarians from NYC as exploititive and the real display of racism in the film.
Could the same point have been made without resorting to fallacies about the real tribes it references? I don't think so. After reading some history of the film, I learned that it was an Italian production with the "film crew" characters written to be allegorical of the Italian news media and accusations of staging "news", sensationalising tragedy, and propagandising to the people. One common element of political propaganda is that it distorts the truth or simply masks it in falsehoods -- it is only appropriate that a film originally written to criticize propaganda and sensationalism in the news would falsify the nature of the real tribes portrayed to encourage the audience to question what is real and what is staged.
Human’s the most dangerous animal. He (human) gets what he’s deserved (raping of amazon’s women, firing their home leads to their own death-sentencing, and that's just fair). Music reflects – everything’s gonna be alright, whatever happens – take it easy. The topic of interfering into other cultures is always up-to date and never bores film makers and auditorium. Freud was right – aggression + libido=universal human nature