Posted September 15, 2011 by Alex Moss Editor in C
 
 

Cannibal Holocaust


The nastiest of the video nasties, Cannibal Holocaust finally escapes onto the home entertainment market in a 2-disc Blu-ray DVD edition for the very first time, featuring not one but two cuts

The nastiest of the video nasties, Cannibal Holocaust finally escapes
onto the home entertainment market in a 2-disc Blu-ray DVD edition for the very
first time, featuring not one but two cuts of Ruggero Deodato’s brutal
exploitation classic: the original version of the film (minus 15 seconds or so
of the worst of the animal killings) and a new director’s cut which excises or
obscures the animal slaughter completely.

One of the most controversial (at
one point it was banned in around 60 countries) and, it could be argued,
influential films ever made, three decades since it was made, Cannibal Holocaust has lost none of its
grubby power. Four documentary
filmmakers; director Alan (Carl Gabriel
Yorke
), his girlfriend Faye (Francesca
Ciardi
) and cameramen Jack (Perry
Pirkanen
) and Mark (Luca Barbareschi),
venture into the depths of the Amazon rainforest intent on making a documentary
about the primitive tribes who live there, untouched by modern Man. Months after their disappearance,
Professor Harold Monroe (‘70s porn star Robert
Kerman
), a New York anthropologist, leads an expedition into the jungle,
intent on retracing the groups steps and discovering their fates. After witnessing some pretty horrific
tribal customs (including the ritualistic punishment killing of an adulterous
woman), interceding in a conflict between two tribes and reluctantly being
forced to take part in a cannibalistic feast, Monroe finally discovers the
remains of the filmmakers, their skeletons fashioned to form a macabre shrine,
and returns to New York with the only witness of their terrifying journey into
the heart of darkness; their film cans.
Back in New York, Monroe watches in horror as the footage is pieced
together for a documentary and the shocking truth about the lost expedition is
finally revealed…

Probably the first, and definitely
the best, film to play the ‘found footage’ shaky-cam trick without which
there’d be no Blair Witch, no Cloverfield, no Paranormal Activity, none of their countless imitators, Cannibal Holocaust is an innovative,
sophisticated, truly transgressive work masquerading as grindhouse mondo
garbage. Using real footage of
African political executions and bookended by the professor’s investigation,
the ‘found footage’ is horrific with scenes of torture, murder, rape and
cruelty that are almost impossible to stomach. While the animal slaughter is real, the Italian authorities
found some scenes of staged violence so upsettingly realistic that Deodato and
his producers found themselves facing murder charges and were forced to produce
the still living actors in court.

What’s truly transgressive about Cannibal Holocaust however is that the
cannibals aren’t the bad guys. The
film crew are. From the moment
they enter the jungle, their baser instincts take over and they descend into
barbarism as, desperate for salacious, outrageous footage that they can twist
to their own ends, they manipulate and drive events, staging and instigating
atrocities, raping and killing the natives, playing God, all for ratings. When the natives turn on them, the
torment meted out is no less than they deserve.

Expressly criticising Western
cultural imperialism, the film very obviously compares the crimes of the film
crew to the West’s, particularly the USA’s, meddling in South East Asia and the
Third World. However, it’s as a
work of metacinema that Cannibal
Holocaust
succeeds best, critiquing and condemning the morality and ethics
of the media as well as the conventions of exploitation cinema implicating the
audience and their desire for sensation at all costs.

Shooting his mockumentary in a
faux-documentary style, Deodato’s film is a grueling, uncomfortable,
deliberately upsetting experience.
While most people find the scenes of animal cruelty particularly hard to
watch, I’ve always found the scenes of sexual violence more distressing, the
cinema verite-style denying the viewer the comfort of telling themselves “It’s
just a movie,” forcing the audience into the role of passive accomplice. The violence is utterly, sickeningly
gruesome and some of the images will give you nightmares but the true power of
a film this caustically intelligent is that it still has people endlessly
arguing over it thirty years after it was made.

Provocative and confrontational, Cannibal Holocaust is a compelling,
thought-provoking dissection of the innate savagery that lurks within us all
and, if for no other reason than its skewering of the media’s cruelly amoral
quest for sensation, it should be compulsory viewing for a generation that
considers modern freak-shows like The X Factor and The Only Way Is Essex family
entertainment.

To Pre-Order Cannibal Holocaust On Blu-Ray Click Here


Alex Moss Editor

 
Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com