REVIEW: Cannibal Holocaust (1980): Reviewed by BRYAN SHUIZMZ
Grindhouse Releasing finally came out with an edition of Cannibal Holocaust that is worth watching and owning. I had watched countless bootlegs of this movie on videotape and trashy dvd burns! 25 years later this film came out in an official 2-disc dvd release loaded with extras including a one-hour documentary, audio commentaries by director Ruggero Deodato and star Robert Kerman, interviews with Deodato, Kerman, and Gabriel Yorke, shooting scripts, photo gallery, original trailers, and get this-a music video by Necrophagia entitled Cannibal Holocaust that was directed by legendary cult director Jim Van Bebber! How awesome is that?!! Also, there are liner notes by the gore-maestro himself Chas. Balun. I totally would like to find a 1st Ed. of his legendary Deep Red Horror Handbook.
That was a mouthful! The transfer of this film is far better than any I have seen thus far. Grindhouse did a new stereo re-mix and original mono mix that makes for a very nice listening experience.
The funny thing about this film, if one can find anything in this film funny, is that I have seen this film so many times and each and every time is brings up this creepy and ill feeling deep inside the pit of my stomach. It may just be my conscience saying, “TURN THIS CRAP OFF!” or it may just be my sense of morals and decency engaging in battle with my dark and sinister urges to want to watch the most shocking, visceral, traumatizing films ever to be created by mankind.
Yeah, that is what that feeling is. So many people have watched this film saying, “That is so sickening how real animals were butchered and killed just for shock value during the filming of the movie. I love animals!” But then when I retort with, ” That is bad all in itself, but what about the depictions of rape, mutilation, murder, and nastiness that were acted-out throughout the film with actors and actresses that are human. Isn’t the thought of those things happening to a real human being just as shocking, if not more so, even though no one really was killed?”
Apparently, killing animals is a soft spot for mankind. I will never ever have more compassion for a murdered turtle, dog, cat, horse, snake, rhino, hippo, or any other creature than I will for a real oxygen breathing human. That being said, Cannibal Holocaust is so shocking because most viewers just can’t stomach the thought of real animals being killed on-screen. If that were my criteria for a shocking and repulsive horror film, than I guess the PETA dvds that I have recieved at punk-rock shows and other music gatherings should be rated X for super nastiness to animals.
So, we now know that Cannibal Holocaust has extreme cruelty to animals. Well, it has some very nasty unpleasantries to mankind as well. The film is set up as actual documentary footage that was retrieved by an anthropologist who heads a rescue party with a guide and his assistant deep into the jungles of South America. The missing film crew was making a documentary on cannibal tribes and most of the footage is portrayed as their uncut and unedited “lost” footage. Having the footage shown to you, the viewer, as real and not studio-produced really gives the whole film that “real-life” feeling that is so common now in this day and age. This film really was way ahead of its time. Deodato made the first “guerilla filmmaking” style of film that The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, [REC], and all the other movies like those that make me vomit from nauseating camera angles and views, but Cannibal Holocaust kept the crazy cameras whipping around all over to a minimum, thus earning this film as the greatest of the “reality” films with no nauseating after-effects.
The soundtrack to this film is top-notch! Riz Ortolani is a musical genius. So many films have awesome shots, cinematography, acting, and scripts just to have it all downgraded a few notches due to boring, lackluster, sleep-inducing drivel posing as a soundtrack. Film soundtracks must be in-sync with the film it is accompanying. So many moods can be completely ruined due to what one is being shown with their eyes on the screen not mixing correctly with what is being heard in ones ears. Ortolani’s score is so eerie and creepy that it perfectly complements the scenes that it is accompanying. Top notch!
The acting in the film is fairly good, but the important thing is that the acting is good enough so you don’t notice any major flaws that would make the viewer seem like what was happening was fake and that the bad acting made the viewer lose that sense of becoming lost in the whole dreadful scenario of the plot which Cannibal Holocaust unravels piece-by-piece before you. This film holds a dear place in my heart for me because as a child growing up in my sheltered household I always had an urge for wanting to see the most vile, disgusting, violent, perverted and exploitative filth and trash ever put to film. In my mind, Cannibal Holocaust is like Classic Literature in the Horror Annals.
Ruggero Deodato directed a masterpiece in my mind, along with the help of writer Gianfranco Clerici, cinematographer Sergio D’Offizi, and the rest involved with this film for fans of the truly horrific and extreme brand of filmmaking. Each and every viewing of Cannibal Holocaust does not numb me to violence, rape, and torture- it reminds me of how cruel and sadistic mankind can and is each and every day to each other all over the world. Amidst all the brutality, Cannibal Holocaust makes a statement. That statement is, ” Who is the savage and who is the civilized?” You just might find yourself asking that question after viewing this film in its entirety.