Cannibal Holocaust is a film by the infamous Italian director Ruggero Deodato, first released in 1979. Its plot (thought to have influenced The Blair Witch Project; read on) is simple: Four documentary filmmakers (Francesca Ciardi , Perry Pirkanen, Luca Barbareschi, and Mark Tommaso) of dubious character trek into the Amazon rainforest, searching for the cannibal tribes known to dwell therein. After torturing and brutalizing the native people in various horrible ways (to shoot footage for their "documentary"), they are themselves killed and eaten. Later, anthropologist Dr. Monroe (Robert Kerman) goes in search of the missing film crew. He finds their film, along with their picked-clean bones, in a village of the Tree People (one of the aforementioned cannibal tribes). The rest of the film consists largely of Monroe and the executives of the network which had sponsored the documentary * watching film of the various atrocities and debating whether or not they can get away with showing the documentary.
Do not watch this movie if anything has ever offended you. I mean it. This movie made me physically ill and disgusted a hardened horror movie fan.
When I went to see this at the Charles Theater, half the audience walked out before the end. Of those that remained, eight wore expressions of shock and disgust, one was on the verge of tears, and one was grinning and laughing.
Why, you might ask? Start with the animal deaths. There are four, none of them faked: a snake beheaded with a machete, a turtle dismembered and eaten on camera, a muskrat stabbed to death, and a pig blown apart with a shotgun. Then there are the rapes; too many of them to count, including one involving sharp rocks (and that less than half an hour into the movie). Don't forget the murders, which range from simple shootings to a body impaled Vlad Tepes-style, bowel to gullet, which was so realistic that a court in Italy forced Deodato to prove that he hadn't actually killed the actress. (You can see an extremely graphic and disgusting picture of this scene at www.cannibalholocaust.net .) Oh, and if that's not enough, one character's penis is removed with a stone axe1, the only scene of the movie which I couldn't bring myself to watch. There's no real need to talk about the numerous scenes of cannibalism, except to say that they're the most realistic I've ever seen.
The logical question is, What's the point to all this? Despite a half-assed attempt to make one at the end of the movie, restating Montaigne's question "Who are the real cannibals?", there's really no point to the movie except shock, horror, and offense, all of which it does very well.
- I originally wrote here that he was castrated; avalyn, who must have a stronger stomach than I, tells me that his testes escaped intact.
- My own memory, from which, try though I may, I can't expunge this movie.