Yes, I watched Cannibal Holocaust by choice.
This is a film that was consistently banned and shows real animals being slaughtered on-screen. The graphic obscenity led to director Ruggero Dedato being brought to court to prove that it wasn’t a snuff film in which people are actually killed. He even had to bring the actors to court to show that they were still alive. But it sure is a snuff film if you’re a woodland creature.
After asking friends about it and scouring the internet for reviews, I was EXTREMELY freaked out after reading numerous reports that stated: “I love gore, guts, slashing, people eating each other, chopping up my grandma etc etc… but I still had to fast-forward the rape/animal massacre scenes in Cannibal Holocaust”.
Yes, I love horror, but for me suspense will always overide slashing and I still can’t watch the Achilles heel scene in Hostel without heaving. How the feck was I to survive the most ‘controversial film ever made’?!
The film is split into two segments. After four documentary filmakers go missing in the Amazon rainforest in 1979, an anthropologist, Professor Harold Moore, ventures back there to try and discover what happened. The first half shows Moore’s brief adventures with the tribes (including a bizarre scene where he frolics naked in a river with some tribe girls: be warned this film is far too full of genitalia). The second shows the footage of the missing filmakers that he finds and brings back to New York.
The first half of the film is pretty ridiculous, almost akin to some kind of bizarre spoof (until the particularly shocking rape scene). There are stumbling tribespeople looking for a snack, constant derogatory talk about them being ‘uncivilised’, absolutely no character development whatsoever and a soundtrack that resembles a cross between Ross Geller’s keyboard techniques and a creepy romantic comedy.
The second half ups the gore but not the substance. The plot never develops. There is a distinct lack of suspense. The characters are one-dimensional racist misogynists who treat the natives with such incomprehensible disrespect that you almost feel relieved when the cannibals get their hands on them. Almost. The male filmakers rape a native girl (while the female filmaker quips about them wasting film!?) and they burn down the natives’ hut – while the natives are still in it.
Cannibal Holocaust doesn’t actually have all that much cannibalism. It should be renamed Turtle-Snuff-Rape Holocaust. Despite the realistic and disturbing nature of the rape and torture scenes, at least we know that they’re not actually happening. The graphic turtle slaughter and pig shooting, however, are real. Watching the filmakers kill and rip apart a turtle’s intestines (YES a REAL turtle!) is highly disturbing and I can’t even imagine how messed up those actors must be to have that forever captured on film. They also kill a snake and a monkey amongst other poor creatures.
Overall the unnecessary violence is beyond ridiculous, particularly in the final scenes. The Abba-lookalike filmaker gets castrated, while the female filmaker is graphically raped by the tribesmen before being beaten to death and beheaded. I could keep going but you get the point. Oh yeah, and unlike most horror films, you see EVERYTHING. You’ll be grateful for the shaky camera work.
The film ends with the lines “I wonder who the real cannibals are,” spoken by Professor Moore after watching the found footage. Deep man, real deep. This final attempt to make the film seem more like a profound comment on society fails to distract from what it actually is: barely as deep as a puddle and about nothing more than pure, disgusting and above all unnecessary shock value.
Watch at your own peril. Let this final picture be a warning.
Tags: Cannibal Holocaust