Horror Film Blog: Cannibal Holocaust (1980)- ‘The Most Controversial Film Ever Made’

November 19, 2010  

Posted By Danielle Barrios

Once again, I realize that the timeliness of a film that was made 30 years ago, is, of course, completely non-existent, however, as my last blog I could not help but feature Cannibal Holocaust since it is one of the only films I have ever had an issue on completing.

Before I continue, this is my official warning. This film is not to be taken lightly.

Around this time last year, I stumbled upon Cannibal Holocaust during one of my frequent trips to Premiere Video on Lower Greenville. Curious about the title, I picked it up despite even the clerk’s recommendation to not waste my time or money. But, like a child, this man’s recommendation only made me want to see it more.

Before watching it, I did some research and found out why.

Cannibal Holocaust’s plot is really quite simple. Four documentarians travel to the South American jungle to film indigenous tribes. After failing to return two months later, anthropologist Harold Monroe, played by Robert Kerman, travels to their treacherous whereabouts on a rescue mission. Unfortunately, he only finds the explorer’s lost cans of film. After watching the footage, he sees all four of the researcher’s tragic fate and the movie goes on to chronicle flashbacks from the recovered film.

On the surface, the plot may even seem a bit tamed but let’s put this film into perspective: Grindhouse calls Cannibal Holocaust “the most controversial film ever made.”

It is difficult to not sound boastful when I say I have seen my fair share of horror films that are far from the conventional or mainstream. But to be completely honest, I could not finish Cannibal Holocaust. The scenes of graphic torture are strange. And it’s not because the scenes are gruesome but because they all too real. Something is slightly off. After witnessing hundreds of horrifying and gory scenes in movies, there are ‘movie magic’ signs that leave the viewer with an assurance of that scene’s faux-authenticity. But Cannibal Holocaust is all too real.

In fact, Ruggero Deodato, the director, was quickly arrested after the film’s release in 1980 for actually murdering actors for the film. But don’t freak out just yet, the claims turned out to be false and he was eventually released.
Are you ready for this? Seven animals, including a coatimundi, turtle, spider, snake, two squirrel monkeys, and a pig, were actually killed for the film (not to mention the animals used for extra takes).

Yes, Cannibal Holocaust borders on snuff.

Bloggoers at Moviefone.com mention how even “sexual assault is low on [the film’s] list of egregious offenses to good taste.” In a film where “genitals are mutilated, people are flayed, impaled and dismembered, and worst of all, real animals are killed,” it is no surprise that Cannibal Holocaust has been banned in 50 countries around the world and Deodato has since adamantly apologized.

Even if Deodato claims to be making some kind of gaudy statement about society’s metaphoric cannibalism, this film fails miserably.

I guess if there is room for cinematic masterpieces in the horror genre like Stanely Kubrick’s The Shining, there is just enough space for films which leave us regretful and disappointed. Cheers.

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