On paper, Cannibal Holocaust is an interesting movie, all though brutal and extremely violent. The plot is better than it has any right to be, but comes with a heaping dose of hypocrisy.
Going by the name Cannibal Holocaust, it’s not exactly the movie you’d expect it to be and at the same time, it is. Sure, it’s blood, gore and… well, cannibalism. At the time these kind of movies were a dime a dozen. However, usually they were a mess. Bad acting, writing, directing and convoluted plots.
That’s not the case with this movie. It’s simple and straight forward, but also intriguing. A team of documentarians who are making a film about the local cannibal tribes in the “green inferno”. The crew consisted of four people. Jack (Perry Pirkanen), Mark (Luca Barbareschi), Faye (Francesca Ciardi) and the doc’s director Alan Yates (Carl Gabriel Yorke).
They seem to be pretty famous for their documentaries, but they want to strike it rich. I can’t imagine documentary filmmaking is the way to go for that, but what do I know? Off into the Amazon they go.
The team goes missing and after two months, finally someone is sent. Professor Harold Monroe, played by Robert Kerman (best known for pornos) goes in search for them. Why a professor and not a search and rescue team? Because he’s studied tribes like these… seems legit. To be fair he has a couple guides, seemingly from the area, go with him.
Eventually Monroe finds the tribe the documentary crew met with. He learns first hand about how they live and takes part in eating with them. Yes, you know exactly what that means. He basically finds what he’s looking for and heads back to the states.
Monroe meets with executives that are planning to publish the films that were found. It’s here that we learn of the documentary team and their fraudulent filming. I don’t want to step all over this too much, but they antagonized the tribe with dire consequences.
This means the movie deals with literal found footage. This was before that style of filmmaking was a cheap gimmick. That doesn’t change how I now feel about it. At this point, I can’t stand found footage style movies. It’s become way too over used. To be fair, it’s not the entire movie like that. Just when they’re viewing the… found footage.
As I said before, there’s a lot of scenes that are hard to watch in Cannibal Holocaust. It’s gory schlock, as you’d expect in a movie with the word “cannibal” in the title.
For some people, the more blood a movie has, the better it is. That’s not the case for me. Although I do like my fair share of blood and gore in my horror movies, it’s not required. I don’t care what a movie shows, because I know it’s fake. No matter how much I might dislike it.
This of course leads me to the 800 lbs gorilla in the room. Cannibal Holocaust is notoriously known for depictions of real animals being slaughtered. There’s absolutely no reason to have this in any movie. If you can’t use already dead animals, then use real animals and simply infer their death. If you can’t do that, don’t do the scenes at all.
I don’t want to hear any “authenticity” bullshit either. It was done for no other reason than shock value. There’s a scene they shoot a small pig point blank for no reason. They could have shown the pig, then show the person aiming down and firing, leaving the rest to the viewers imagination. This was Italian scumbag filmmaking for the sake of Italian scumbag filmmaking.
There are other controversies around the movie’s director Ruggero Deodato. I won’t get into them here but the guy seems like a real asshole. Many directors are. A lot of times they can go too far with what they want from the people they’re working with.
Cannibal Holocaust has a message about the Western world and its ignorance of other places. It is over shadowed by a disgusting filmmaker using brutal tactics with the animals to make that film. Using actual violence to make a statement about violence, and how bad it is, our thirst to see it, is truly ignorant.
I like what this movie set out to do. I even like the plot and characters. I just can’t, in good conscience, like this movie. Take out the real murdering of animals and I wouldn’t have given it much better of a score, but I would have been able to enjoy it and respect the message it was trying to make. I guess for me, it’s a bridge too far.