Cannibal Holocaust

Starring: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi
Directed by: Ruggero Deodato
Buy it from Amazon here!

The tagline for this is "The Most Controversial Movie Ever Made." and with the possible exception of the Guinea Pig movies, it’s probably true.

The
story behind this movie is sometimes even more interesting than the
film itself. It’s been banned in over 60 countries. It’s been deplored
by animal rights activists due to its portrayal of real animal deaths.
The first screenings of the movie led to the film being seized and the
director and producer thrown in jail.

What
made this movie have such an impact? The main reason was that no one
had really done anything like it before. Sure, there’d been Cannibal
movies before it in the 70s, and it wasn’t the first Mondo film- but it
was the first movie that really convinced people that what took place
actually happened.

Looking at it now it’s ludicrous to
believe that. But the combination of an intense marketing campaign
(stating that it was all real, and that the people you’re watching were
actually killed- similar to what the makers of The Blair Witch used
many years later) and brutally realistic effects combined with real
violence against animals led many people to believe that they were
watching a snuff film. The filmmakers were charged with staging
executions and breaching indecency and obscenity laws in their native
Italy. The director even had to hunt down the actors to prove that they
were in fact still alive to avoid being locked up himself.

It
was never released outside Italy for years, and they actually had to
resort to sneaking their film out to other countries for release- that
lead to even more outcry against the acts portrayed.

Finally,
thanks to dvd, we have a definitive release of a picture that for
better or worse, changed people’s expectations of film.

The Film-

The
plot of this film is pretty straightforward. A group of 4 young
filmmakers who are famous for their depiction of human atrocities who
get lost in the Amazon. A professor (Robert Kerman) enlists an
exploration team to go find them and ends up getting more than he
bargained for. After many setbacks (and a few casualties) he gets
accepted into a native Indian tribe, and it’s there that he finds the
film cans that hold the the last footage from the 4 missing
individuals.

The
last part of the movie is the actual film that the team shot- and it’s
pretty disturbing. It paints a portrait of journalists who were
sadists, who would do anything to get an interesting story. They
basically take over an Indian village, raping their woman and even
killing them in an effort to get good footage. It’s not a spoiler to
tell you that the tale ends with their slaughter, which is some of the
most intense footage ever put to film.

The
film still works today. The acting is sometimes silly (the dub hurts
this) but it holds together a lot more than most older works. The
special effects are still effective today. And the thing that it’s most
famous for- the animal slayings- is just as disturbing, if not more so
in this P.C. world we live in.

This is a great film that everyone should experience at least once.

Ouch

The Picture-

This
movie has never looked this good. It’s better than all the previous dvd
releases, and it’s a helluva lot better than those grainy vhs copies
you grew up on. In fact, it might just be a little too good. Part of
what made the film so unsettling when you saw it back in the day was
that there were only ratty vhs tapes. It actually made it more
realistic this way- the scenes with the 4 filmmakers who eventually end
up getting slaughtered looked like they could have indeed been dragged
out of the jungle. Now, the picture is pristine, almost manufactured
looking. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a great looking copy of this
movie- but can’t help but feel like it loses a little bit of what made
it so unsettling before.

The Sound-

As
with the picture, this is better than you’ve ever thought the movie
could sound. They made a new stereo re-mix just for this release, and
it sounds great. You can hear every little animal squeal in perfect
clarity.

The Extras-

This is one packed set. Here’s what you get-

Disc 1-

There’s
3 different ways to view this movie- first of course there’s the
unrated Director’s Cut. Then there’s the Animal Cruelty Free version,
which would be a good idea if you’re trying to get women to watch this
film (trust me). Lastly there’s a version that pops up a skull icon
whenever there’s an interview about the scene (sort of like the "Follow
the White Rabbit" feature on the Matrix)

Commentary-
Director Ruggero Deodato and star Robert Kerman do a pretty lively
commentary, mostly talking about life on the set. I haven’t been able
to watch it all yet, but the bit I’ve seen looks entertaining.

The Green Inferno
– This is a section that contains info about the "filmmakers" and
tribes in the movie within a movie. Most of this info is already
available on the Official Site.

Trailers – 5
different trailers from different regions. The most interesting is the
US re-release one, where they mocked The Blair Witch. The trailer ends
with the line "THIS ONE GOES ALL THE WAY." Certainly does…

Disc 2- Now we’re talking-

The Making of Cannibal Holocaust
– This is an hour long documentary. It’s got a lot of info about the
film, but honestly isn’t as in depth as I would’ve liked. It’s mostly
talking heads, but it is interspersed with behind the scenes footage
from on location. It’s really missing any info about the tribes in the
film. One of the questions that most people have on their mind when
they see the film was how they got these people to act in this film?
It’s never really answered. Still, the people are all very passionate
about the film, and it’s good for getting a sense of what they were
going for.

Interviews-
There are 3 here, one with actor Robert Kerman, one with musician Riz
Ortolani, and the best with actor Alan Yates. His is the most in depth-
he gives a complete account of he got the role without any idea of what
he was getting into, or what this movie was going to lead to.

Necrophagia Music Video" – Yes, fresh from the And You Will Live in Terror video that’s on Fulci’s The Beyond dvd, Necrophagia’s back with Cannibal Holocaust. It’s a pretty boring video actually, but it’s good enough musically to appeal to the metalhead in all of us.

Art- Nice big collection of stills and poster art here.

Trailers- Grindhouse releases here- the highlights being a couple of Fulci films and the trailer for Cannibal Ferox.

There’s also easter eggs all over these dvds- I believe you can find 7… mostly little interview clips.

The Packaging-

Woman Gets PoleBeautiful.
The cover shows one of the most brutal scenes caught in a lens. Inside,
there’s a snapcase that unfortunately doesn’t close too well. The art
on the inside is just as good. This might not surprise you, but
Cannibal Holocaust didn’t have an easy time getting to dvd. There were
no less than 8 printers that refused to print the (classic) graphic
artwork of a woman impaled on a pole. (they were also denied print ads
by a certain well-known film mag, who also killed an article about it,
but that’s another story)

Along
with the great art there’s a little booklet that contains info about
the film, and folds out to the original Italian poster that’s on your
right.

All in all, a great looking package.

The Lowdown-

Overall, this is a fantastic set that belongs in any true horror aficionado’s collection.
Grindhouse has done a great job of collecting everything that could be
found on the subject and wrapping it up in a nice collector’s edition.
You may not appreciate what goes on in the film, you might even think
it’s disgusting- but you can’t deny the impact that it’s had. This
movie was just ahead of its time. And as Robert Kerman says in to the
director in one of the interviews- the story behind this movie would
make a great film. I’d love to see that happen.