Director – Ruggero Deodato
Cast – Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, Luca Barbareschi, Salvatore Basile, Ricardo Fuentes, Carl Gabriel Yorke, Paolo Paoloni, Lioinello Pio Di Salvoia
Release Year – 1980
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Much like ever other film genre there is, the horror genre has it’s fair share of “infamous” films that are known by nearly all of it’s true fans. Films like Alien, Halloween, Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street meet that criteria. However one film in horror lore really stands out, and for some outrageous reasons(keep reading). That film is Cannibal Holocaust. Release in 1980 and subsequently banned in over 50 countries, this film’s director Ruggero Deodato was immediately arrested upon this film’s release and charged with murder due to how graphic and realistic this film is. Now THAT is infamy!
The film’s plot is a simple one. A group of Harvard filmmakers are sent to the Amazon to make a documentary. When the students fail to return, a Harvard anthropologist is sent on a mission to the Amazon to find them. He does not find them, but he does find their footage. Upon returning home, he plays the footage and learns of the horrors that occurred during the students’ fateful trip to the Amazon.
Just so you know…I was not kidding about this film being banned(a record number of countries) or about the film’s director being arrested. Once you view this film(if you can even find it) you will know exactly why Ruggero Deodato was arrested. Heh. Considered to be “the most controversial movie ever made”, this film will shock you and leave you thinking one of two things: 1. This film is a brave product of a director who has a creative vision and wants to portray how reporters focus mainly on violence more than anything else. 2. This film is utter, complete sh*t. I personally agree more with the first thought, but I can see how some would be offended by this pic. If you are a female or are an active PETA twat, then you should probably never view this film or even come within a 20 yard radius of this epic flick. Several extended rape scenes, including one that incorporates a stone dildo(yes, I’m serious) will most likely turn off some weak-minded viewers. If that doesn’t do it, then the killing of live animals in this film will do it. I believe that to be the biggest reason this film is “the most controversial movie ever made”. I do not personally agree with the killing of live animals for film, but underlying circumstances at the time left this director with no other option. He has since renounced these acts, and I am sure that the coatimundi, turtle, snake, tarantula, spider money, and pig killed in the film are laying on the clouds of animal heaven. True martyrs, if you will.
I really liked this film’s story, as I am a fan of any type of “mystery” thrown into a horror film. The idea of the filmmakers disappearing sparked my interest, and was only increased once the anthropologist found the tape and finally gave me what I had been waiting to see. This is the point where the movie REALLY starts, and from here on out it doesn’t let down. The pacing is good, the scenes are shocking and likely to keep your interest if you are tired of seeing mundane “Hollywood” stuff, and the film’s social commentary kicks in so well I would have assumed George A. Romero wrote this flick. Ruggero Deodato goes to show that even the “brightest” and most “privileged” people can still act as savagely as indigenous lesser-privileged people. As the film progresses you are exposed to how these Harvard “intellectuals” lose their morals and stoop even lower than the Amazon tribe, causing their own fateful demise. I loved this aspect of the film, and is pretty much the biggest reason why I do not find this film to be tasteless crap. Some scenes that occur before the video tape is found will come off as a bit tasteless, but they were so outlandish I was actually laughing. Hooray for incidental comic relief!
My biggest gripe with this film was it’s overly long development. As I mentioned earlier, the movie doesn’t really “begin” until the anthropologist finds the tape and plays it. That doesn’t happen until about 45 minutes into the film. Yes, that means the first 45 minutes are just of him searching for the students. I personally liked the idea of him searching for the students and then finding the tape, but I wish the amount of time it took for him to find the tape had been cut down a little. Mainly due to the fact that there were quite a few useless scenes in the film’s first act that could have been done away with an still not detrimented from the film. Other than that I have no real gripes, although I do kind of feel bad for the turtle and the pig. Not the monkey though. Why? Well monkey brains are a delicacy to the tribes in that area of the world. Hell, even Indiana Jones liked his monkey brains.
Overall, this is a landmark cult film that is sure to please those who are into extreme core and shocking scenes. This film definitely takes an open, strong mind. If you are incapable of producing one I suggest you stay away from this film. You will be scarred for life, and nobody will like you.