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Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

DVD Cover (Grindhouse Releasing Reissue)
Genres / Traits:
Cannibal Film, Horror, Jungle Film, Cinéma Vérité
Director:
Ruggero Deodato Ruggero Deodato
Starring:
Robert Kerman Robert Kerman
Francesca Ciardi Francesca Ciardi
Perry Pirkanen Perry Pirkanen
Luca Barbareschi Luca Barbareschi
Salvatore Basile Salvatore Basile

6.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: January 28, 2007
Cannibal films really aren't my thing due to the fact that nearly every one of them is almost completely identical: a group of Americans will head into the jungle, we'll see some legit animal cruelty, and finally, the Americans will do something to piss off the cannibals and pay for it with their lives. It's always the same settings with the same tribal warriors and the same saggy-tittied women, so if you've seen one, you've pretty much seen them all. With that said, if you're only going to see one of them, this should be the chosen one.

The storyline found here follows two different sets of people who decide to travel into the jungle for very different reasons. The first group, led by Professor Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman), heads into the jungle in search of a group of people who had previously went in and was never heard from again. He eventually finds out that the group was murdered by the savages, but he does manage to obtain the video footage that they had shot. This leads us to the second storyline, in which we watch the footage and witness what happened to these four people. We watch as they - Faye Daniels (Francesca Ciardi), Jack Anders (Perry Pirkanen), Mark Tomaso (Luca Barbareschi), and Alan Yates (Carl Gabriel Yorke) - turn into savages of a different kind in order to get the most shocking and sensationalist footage possible, and then we watch as the cannibals get their revenge.

The various DVD and VHS covers for this release have featured some pretty bold statements: "The most controversial movie ever made" reads one, while another proudly proclaims that yes, this is "the one that goes all the way!" Any horror fan with any sort of experience in the genre has probably heard those claims countless times in the past (especially if said fans have ever used a forum that Nick Palumbo stumbled across), but every once in a while, the claims turn out to be true. Yes, this is a highly controversial film, even thirty years after its release, and yes, it does "go all the way" in its graphic depictions of murder, rape, and animal cruelty.

That last little item is the cause for the vast majority of the controversy that this film has garnered. Sure, director Ruggero Deodato was hauled into court shortly after the film was originally released due to accusations of having created a snuff film, but those issues were quickly settled. The animal death scenes, however, were legit. We watch as these people hack apart a turtle and film every moment of it slowly dying for the camera, we watch as a man stabs a muskrat to death, and we also witness another man shoot a baby pig at point blank range. I personally don't see what the big deal is with these scenes - after all, we do live in a society where millions of animals are slaughtered on a daily basis to keep McDonalds stocked, and as the saying goes, God wouldn't have made them taste so good if he didn't want us to eat them. Seriously though, considering that the animals were eaten and not merely thrown to the side after their "performances", I fail to see the issue here. The easily offended will probably want to skip over these scenes as they are quite graphic, but that's my stance on the subject.

The gore sequences involving humans are also quite nasty, and although you probably wouldn't mistake it for being a snuff film in this day and age, the effects are much better than most films from the era (and better than some of today's stuff, for that matter). There's no shortage of blood and entrails once things start moving, and bodies are literally torn apart in front of the camera with no detail obscured or hidden. Gorehounds will certainly enjoy this aspect of the film.

Aside from my personal dislike of the genre (which I won't hold against the film at hand), my only issue with this one was the fact that the storyline taking place in the city went on for far too long. I get the statement that Deodato was trying to make and I respect that, but the actors are unconvincing and the characters that they play are far too unsympathetic to receive any sort of sympathy. A small amount of character development and back-story is to be expected and I certainly wouldn't ask for it to be cut out completely, but a bit of trimming would have helped things considerably, in my humble opinion.

Although they've almost assuredly already seen it, this one is definitely recommended for fans of the cannibal genre as it is indeed the best of the bunch. It'll be a bit of a hit or miss amidst general horror fans though, as your enjoyment of this one will hinge entirely on whether you prefer massive amounts of gore or a deep storyline. 8/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 01/28/2007, 11:52 AM
Thank you, oh Great One. Being a huge fan of the cannibal genre, this is the one that holds the gauntlet to the rest. 9/10
Dametria #2: Dametria - added 04/24/2007, 12:12 PM
I saw this during a "Shock Cinema" veiwing of banned movies. I must say there is some TRUELY stomach turning shit in this movie. The plot was kinda forgettable but the visuals will stick with you.
Nirrad #3: Nirrad - added 12/16/2007, 10:26 PM
I really liked this movie. I expected some cheesy story, but I liked how it was like a documentary, and the ending was great. I will say that I was kinda let down by the gore as people made it seem to be just crazy, but I didn't find it disturbing at all, I've seen worse. But some parts were pretty brutal. I'm definately gonna hunt this dvd down.
Wes #4: Wes - added 09/29/2008, 07:05 PM
This movie was better than i thought it would be. The turtle scene was the worst for sure. I really like the 'social surgery' scene. It really makes you think about the abortion issue. Like the dude says "i wonder who the real cannibals are?" As long as you understand what you're getting yourself into, this movie is quite impressive. Low budget. B list (or even worse) actors. They made it work. Overall, i don't even see this as a horror movie, and i don't think it was intended to be.
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