Thursday, April 15, 2010
Cannibal Holocaust is the story of 4 documentary filmmakers who venture deep into the jungle to film cannibalistic tribes, but when they never return, anthropologist Harold Monroe embarks on a rescue mission.
The footage was promoted at actual footage of cannibals, and the graphic deaths of the filmmakers as real. The trailer even dares audiences to watch it all the way through. The graphic impalement scene, where a woman is skewered from end to end like a shish-kebob, stirs controversy to this day as to it's authenticity.
Under contract not to appear in public for a year after the film's release, the actors were thought to be murdered, and director Ruggero Deodata faced life imprisonment for the crime. Fortunately he was able to track down the actors and have them appear in court, and the charges were ultimately dropped.
All of this is fascinating, but how is the film?
That is difficult to answer - it is almost impossible to separate the film from it's historical context. And honestly, that is how it should be viewed, as an important piece of film history for it's ability to stir controversy. Still, I think most horror fans today would find it a little slow and not as engaging.
Supposedly banned in over 50 countries, at one point in time or another, Cannibal Holocaust is probably the first of the mocumentaries, incorporating a cinéma vérité technique that immersed audiences at the time. This film certainly defines late 70s, early 80's, exploitation, and is worth a viewing.