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Cannibal Holocaust

Cannibal Holocaust

4.0 3
Director: Ruggero Deodato

Cast: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen


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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


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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All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
Everything you've heard about Ruggero Deodato's nauseating Grindhouse classic is true; and while it's hard to defend the director for some of the truly repugnant visuals with which he has chosen to convey his message, there is indeed an underlying point to the film, if one is able to look beyond the sometimes unwatchable images that assault the viewer. At one point in the film, a character makes a comment about Western media junkies living to have their senses raped, and in an age where television viewers bear witness on a weekly basis to such acts as game show contestants eating horses' eyeballs to win cash, this sentiment couldn't ring more true. It seems that some of these images shouldn't be as effective as they are over 20 years after the film's initial release, though the animal cruelty, combined with the other unspeakable atrocities that the protagonists commit, ultimately results in a film that does indeed rape the senses of the viewer in a nearly (some might argue entirely) unwatchable manner. While livestock farming and mass consumption has successfully taken the dirty work out of life as a carnivore for most people, many never see the faces of the animals they so readily consume without a second thought. The idea of death and mutilation is so far removed that it's easy to eat meat for one's entire life and never have to witness firsthand the slaughter of the animals one consumes. The actual onscreen killing of animals in this film is almost unforgivable upon initial reaction, though they were (with a few exceptions) consumed in true hunter-gatherer tradition. However, the treatment of the natives by the so-called "documentarians" who set out to expose their "primitive" lifestyles is unforgivable (even though conveyed by use of special effects); it is truly the most horrifying aspect of this film when one stops to consider the results of colonialism and the manner in which many modern societies have arrived at their current states. By the end of the film, the violent (literally and aesthetically) images leave viewers with an unshakable sickness that they won't soon forget. Composer Riz Ortolani's score effectively moves from a familiar, somewhat pensive melody into harsh tones that make viewers actually feel the violence they bear witness to onscreen. This is not a film that is watched, it is a film that is endured, and audiences that have any doubts about their ability to do so are best advised to follow their instincts.

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Cannibal Holocaust 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Ruadhan_McElroy More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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