Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

What better way to spend a chilly Saturday night than to have some friends over for pizza, Pacifico and a viewing of Cannibal Holocaust? There is no better way, believe you me...

The movie begins with a report on an intrepid documentary film crew who entered the Amazonian jungle in search of cannibals. No one has heard from them in more than two months so noted anthropologist Professor Harold Monroe is sent to look for them. He finds them alright, mounted on some kind of altar with their camera equipment and their bones picked clean! He also finds two warring cannibal tribes, but succeeds in getting along with both, thus avoiding becoming dinner.

After he obtains the film crew's film footage, he hightails it back to New York City where he is invited to show his findings on television, because the public has a right to know what happened, dammit! From that point on, we are treated to the documentary crew's film footage (a la Blair Witch Project) and it ain't pretty. It seems the film crew would do anything to garner fame and success, even terrorizing peaceful Amazonian tribes to get dramatic footage. They stage some pretty grisly scenes for their precious documentary, blaming it on rival tribes in the footage. In the end though, the tribes show their stuff to prove you don't mess with cannibals!

This was definitely a brutal movie, more brutal than Cannibal Ferox. There are numerous animal deaths, including the stabbing of a muskrat, the shooting of a pig, and the chopping up and general disassembly of a turtle. These are all real, mind you, and not for the squeamish. The animal deaths are much more violent and explicit than in Ferox. Ye be warned...

Holocaust also has much more violence towards women. In a ritualistic tribal punishment, a woman is taken far from the village by one man, then raped, then raped with a sharp knife, then raped with a torture device that can be compared with a softball studded with nails. She is then bludgeoned to death. In another scene, the males of the film crew take turns raping a native while the others hold her down. Then, in perhaps the most iconic scene of this film, the woman is shoved onto a pole so that the pole extends out of her mouth.

The members of the film crew finally get their just desserts when they are surrounded by the cannibalistic tribe. One guy gets severely beaten, strung up, has his genitals chopped off, then gets hacked to bits. The lone woman of the crew is beaten and viciously raped by several members of the tribe. The rest of the crew is finished off in a spectacular bloodbath.

The end of the film leaves us with a question - who are the real savages here? The cannibals and their primitive way of life or the film crew and Western civilization? There is some social commentary here, and it does make one think...which is a good thing, darlings!

The film was directed by Ruggero Deodato and came out in 1980, a year before Cannibal Ferox appeared. It is an intense, grueling, disturbing film that feels very real at times. I highly recommend it to those that like to watch very controversial films, films with lots of "ewwwwww" moments, gorehounds and, of course, those that hold a special place in their hearts for cannibals.

Please be warned, though...it is an extremely graphic and serious film.

Buy it on Amazon!

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