I’ve been dreading watching this film, but I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because of the content and the realistic nature of it. I’ve heard about the film in terms of legend and lore, but never had the opportunity to actually watch it. That is, until I subscribed to Shudder. Now Cannibal Holocaust is right here in front of me.
If it were a snake, it would have bitten me. And don’t think I didn’t mean that to be a joke.
The film follows a professor that’s on a rescue mission in the Amazon rainforest. Along the way he stumbles across some lost film shot by a missing documentary crew. As one might surmise by the title, it probably doesn’t end well for the missing documentary crew.
The film was so realistic that the director, Ruggero Deodato, was arrested by Italian police a few days after it premiered in Milan. He was charged with murdering several actors on camera and faced life in prison. The cast had signed contracts requiring them to disappear for a year after shooting the film. Just to create the illusion that they died. They had to appear in court to prove that the director didn’t kill them.
This is the granddaddy of the found footage genre. It’s probably the most effective of them because of the intense practices that the cast, crew, and director took.
You might be wondering why I’m going on about this film when I should be watching it. To tell you the truth, I’m stalling for time. Every second I’m typing is a second that I’m not watching this gory, cannibalistic film.
Well, I guess here goes. Geronimo.
After pressing play, Shudder decides to give the following warning:
“A Polite Note of Warning
The titles deemed “Extreme” come shrouded in ultra-graphic content, controversy and, in certain cases, legal dispute. They can be as intense and vivid as they are culturally and cinematically significant.
Shudder is proud to present these transgressive, boundary-pushing, sometimes banned, and totally rad, films in their most complete form.
For the squeamish, discretion is advised. We’ll see you on the other side.”
Oh boy, there’s no going back now.
Okay, it doesn’t start out bad. It’s a bird’s eye view of the Amazon Rainforest with some nice music. So far, so good.
The four documentary crew members are introduced via a newscast. Two months have passed since that last bit of footage. A NYU anthropologist is going into the Amazon to find out what happened to them.
I can understand why this film is so controversial. First off, there’s a large amount of full-frontal nudity (both male and female), sexual acts (some of them non-consensual), and animal brutality. Of course, I shouldn’t have to mention the brutal violence.
Animal brutality is the most heinous of these because it’s real. Animals were killed solely for the purposes of filming. The worst animal death is the slaughter of a large turtle, and they show everything.
One of the more interesting choices this film makes is to combine beautiful music with horrific images.
The finale thought of the film has the anthropologist ask, “I wonder who the real cannibals are?”
It’s a very interesting question because in a lot of ways the film makers are hypocrites. They exploited the lands, the animals, and other cultures just to drive home the point that maybe modern society isn’t as noble as we think we are.
I’m not sure I’ll ever watch this film again. I wasn’t nauseated by it, but I was shocked by the film. So much of what we watch nowadays is CGI, but back then that wasn’t the case. I am glad I watched it. Sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone and do something that tests your fortitude.
31 Days of Horror Rankings:
- Deadstream (2022)
- Willy’s Wonderland (2021)
- Grimcutty (2022)
- Watcher (2022)
- She Will (2022)
- Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
- Escape Room (2019)
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle (2018)
- The Cellar (2022)
- The Last Rite (2021)
- Revealer (2022)
- Sissy (2022)
- Halloween Ends (2022)
- Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (2022)
- Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1982)
- The Collingswood Story (2002)
- Werewolf by Night (2022)