Cannibal Holocaust!

Ripout! Barbeque! Devour! How long can you take it?

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980)

In 1979 four documentary filmmakers disappeared in the jungles of South America while shooting a film about cannibalism…six months later, their footage was found. Genre superstar Roger Kerman (“Eaten Alive,” Cannibal Ferox”) stars as Harold Monroe, a NYU anthropology professor who travels to the deadly “Green Inferno” jungles of the Amazon searching for the missing crew. After a long and grueling search leads the professor into the heart of the Yanomamo village, he finally discovers the filmmaker’s rotting remains alongside the reels of footage they had shot shortly before dying.

The lost film footage is assembled and restored by technicians at the University and Professor Monroe is the first to see it in its shocking entirety. Meanwhile, he is constantly being pursued by greedy network executives that want to buy the footage along with his incredible story. The network is convinced that the more you assault an audience, the more you rape their senses – the more they will love it, and that this remarkable documentary footage would pull huge ratings. In frustration, Monroe arranges a special screening for them, purely to prove his point that the footage is far too vile and inhuman for anyone to see and that it should be destroyed. What unfolds before the unfortunate viewer’s eyes is sheer horror. “Don’t turn away! Look at it! These are men, men like you!”

The deceased documentarians had a controversial reputation for being sensationalist filmmakers that strived to shock and offend their audience at any cost. The lost footage from the jungles reveals them to be much, much worse. The four filmmakers, led by the incredibly obnoxious director Alan Yates (Gabriel Yorke) and his arrogant girlfriend/assistant Faye Daniels (Francesca Ciardi) had brutalized the jungle and its innocent inhabitants in a crude effort to obtain “shocking” footage. Arson, rape, murder, torture, and barbaric impalement were all part of Alan’s demented script and if the natives weren’t actually savage enough to do those sort of things, Alan and his crew were more than willing to do it for them!

The natives eventually and justifiably snap after enduring such incredible cruelty and seek revenge against Yates. One by one, the murderous film crew is dispatched, dismembered, and devoured as their cameras roll catching every last moment. The men you will see eaten alive, are the same who filmed these incredible sequences. After seeing these horrific events unfold before their eyes, the network executives have no choice but agree that the footage is too much for anyone and agree to have it destroyed. This leaves Professor Monroe alone to light up his trusty pipe and muse: “I wonder who the real cannibals are.”

“Cannibal Holocaust” is the undisputed king of the “cannibal” films. No other flick in this perverse and eternally despised little sub-genre comes close when it comes to assaulting the viewer with unsettling, gruesome horror. This flick doesn’t often provide the sort of jivey music or unintentional laughs you’ll find in Umberto Lenzi’s “Eaten Alive” or “Cannibal Ferox.” Director Ruggero Deodato deserves much credit for helming such an uncompromisingly grim and shocking motion picture. Deodato had already helped pioneer the “cannibal” movement with his 1977 effort “Ultimo mondo cannibale” aka “Jungle Holocaust.”  That film was simply brutal, but incredibly Deodato managed to top himself with “Holocaust.”

Deodato himself calls “Cannibal Holocaust” a “clear and straightforward denunciation of the journalistic approach as we know it today,” and if that was his honest intention I’d have to say the film was a success. That doesn’t really explain the extended scene – not involving the film crew – where a native woman is raped and then beat to death with a stone phallus, or the countless stomach turning scenes of animals being slaughtered. They don’t call them exploitation flicks for nothing, but this one actually lives up to it’s immortal “most controversial movie ever made” status. More than perhaps any other flick in horror history, “Cannibal Holocaust” truly is the one that goes ALL the way!

The influence that this eternally controversial flick had on later “lost footage” films like “The Blair Witch Project”  is obvious. “Cannibal Holocaust” was a groundbreaking, pioneering genre film for using lost footage to help tell its story, and this plot device has been lifted and recycled several times since. This flick also has a bad rap for essentially being garbage, but I think the superior quality of the film making, the acting, and the score all rises well above the expectations of even your average exploitation enthusiasts. Riz Ortolani’s haunting score is hands down my favorite part of the film. The contrast between the beauty of the music and the ugliness of the violence is unsettling. The pacing is excellent and the film is beautifully shot. It’s also beyond brutal and can be hard to stomach. The simulated acts of rape and dismemberment are chillingly realistic, and these violent scenes are surrounded with scenes of animals being slaughtered. Not to mention the REAL death footage seen in Alan Yates masterpiece “The Last Road To Hell.” In other words, this is a great first date movie.

In the proud tradition of their superior “Cannibal Ferox” dvd, Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski of GRINDHOUSE RELEASING unleashed a devastating two disc deluxe edition of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST that has more bonus features than you can shake a severed limb at! There’s a one hour behind the scenes documentary entitled “The Making Of Cannibal Holocaust” that features rare behind the scenes footage, an audio commentary by director Ruggerio Deodato and star Robert Kerman, interviews with the Deodato, Kerman, and Gabriel Yorke, theatrical trailers, extensive still galleries, the Necrophagia music video for “Cannibal Holocaust,” which was directed by Jim Van Bebber (“The Manson Family,” “Gator Green”), liner notes by the legendary Chas. Balun, and much more! The most controversial movie ever made belongs in every horror fiend’s clas-sick collection, and this definitive release is an essential purchase. Better to rest in peace in the warm body of a friend than in the cold ground…so buy or die!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!! 

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