Cannibal Holocaust (1980)


Day 24 of 31

Director: Ruggero Deodato
Starring: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, and Carl Gabriel Yorke . Italy. 1h

Long before the Blair Witch (1999) we had the highlight of video nasties and the most talked about was Cannibal Holocaust a simple but effective found footage film. In an era when it wasn’t so much about the technical aspect but an opportunity to show some ”real life nasties”. Despite being the central part of Deodato’s Cannibal trilogy it was the forerunner, almost running the other two films; Jungle Holocaust (1977) and Cut and Run (1985) into obscurity.  But the first return to man eaters hit many sensitive spots and turned the film into a cult classic.

cannibal holocaust

Filmed on location in the Amazon Rainforest on a budget of $100,000 but earning $2 Million at the box office  it stars Robert Kerman who’s better known for his pornographic work, the most famous being Debbie Does Dallas.

So this terrifying mockumentary is about a group of filmmakers who go into the Rainforest to rescue a group of filmmakers, the original group set out to film the locals for a documentary but have subsequently gone missing, a conscientious professor Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman), insists on a rescue mission and take a small crew out to track down the missing crew, in anticipation of his rescue mission the military kidnap a local boy so Monroe can use him as a bargaining tool to help negotiate the release of the crew. Upon heading into the forest Monroe manages to find traces of the team and encounter a few tribes, each one more mysterious and dangerous than the last and each very mistrusting of the outsiders .Eventually they discover the Ya̧nomamö and after gaining their trust (by bathing with some young girls in the river) Monroe is given access to a shrine which houses the corpses and tapes of the missing crew, he strikes a bargain with the chief to take the tapes but has to perform a cannibalistic ritual. After splitting back to the USA, the team construct the tapes together to show to their sponsors.. And so begins the real story of the Cannibal Holocaust.the first showing is seen as exciting and detailed rare insights into the amazonian tribes but after some deliberation the professor decides to put in ALL of the tapes which tells a slightly more disturbing story.

For me this gory film is a golden oldie, many people see it as being overrated and disgusting but as far am I’m concerned they are half right the film has many disgusting moments, many got the film into trouble as a lot of viewer still insist on it being a snuff film, and no evidence has been given either way.  I think a lot of the attraction to watch the film was literally to see if you could spot the odd scenes where people were actually being killed and with the odd animal actually getting slaughtered it did add to the magical attraction of death being found in the film.

cannibal holocaust

Considering the film might actually be the very first found footage (does anyone know of anything before this?) it was a bold new adventure in film, yes it’s not something that everyone will enjoy or respect. For the video nasty crowd it certainly is an achievement and has spawned great things, most recently Green Inferno (2013) and most famously Blair Witch lol yes I went there, it’s hard to mention one without the other…

The scenes of animal cruelty soon make way to human sacrifices, and from then on all the rules are broken eventually death just becomes death, and the fear is mainly of becoming desensitised. While the narrative seems to try and make us question who is really the primitive monsters, the tribal people or the money grabbing journalists who are willing to spark off riots and slaughter anything that crosses their path in order to make a buck, most of this is totally ignored as the graphic scenes are just too much, and why, because they are so amazingly organized and shot.
The acting is bold and daring yet not brilliant, the whole aspect of the found footage is freshly explored and is executed well, but had various little flaws, but nothing rocks the boat.  The ugly truths and offensive nature of the film over ride any ideas that the filming wasn’t 110% on par with being “real” footage. In my eyes it sits well in the exploitative box and deserves it’s cult status.

For a while I had long believed the genre was one that we had left behind in the dusty VHS boxes, but was pleasantly surprised to see a resurgence with the Green Inferno which tells this story in a slightly modern way and without the flouncy OST. but it’s interesting to see that the ideals and inspiration hasn’t died, and there’s hope yet for some respective remakes? Or not!??!?

It really is still as bad as everyone has mentioned, I don’t know if it ever will become tame, as our need to live in peace and harmony increases over time, and this film really does put on it’s primitive pants and steps back in time to remind of all the things we’d rather not remember, but at least it has a more plausible less porny storyline than The Man from Deep River (1972), but deep down I love em both.





Rating 7/10

RGreen Inferno (2013), Jungle Holocaust (1977), Cut and Run (1985)  
L – Found Footage Films, My Favourite Found Footage
A – Headhunters and Head Roles, when did we lose our love for tribal people.
Vs  – Cannibal Holocaust Vs Green Inferno.

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