If I were to ask the true hardcore horror fans to name the top five most exploitative movies of the 80s, the answer likely contains Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. Now for those unaware of this highly offensive movie, then my review shall provide you with serious insight to the subgenre of cannibal movies. Back in 1979 director Ruggero Deodato started working on a sequel to Jungle Holocaust (1977), he took to expanding to showing the civilized man, as a superior to the tribes that exist in the jungles, this movie followed by Cut and Run (1985). Simply this cannibal masterpiece isn’t for most, it does contain vile scenes, only the most shock-proof and hardened viewers find enjoyment in it, perhaps if you wanted to surpass it then you’ll need to view A Serbian Film (2010) a truly mindfuck flick. Even though the conceptual design for the movie had likely the first reference to found footage well-before it became a subgenre, thanks mainly to The Blair Witch Project (1999); it had two screenwriters Gianfranco Clerici (The New York Ripper ) who was mostly responsible for the story and script, while Giorgio Stegani (Mill of the Stone Women ) provided additional dialogue in the Italian version. The current title wasn’t the first choice rather it was The Green Inferno, but changed primarily because it wasn’t shocking enough, hence adding the word cannibal merely a draw, but the more inflammatory word of holocaust, consequently in 2013, Eli Roth would release his version of a cannibal movie called The Green Inferno an intentional matter of respect for this movie.
One needs to note that cannibal horror movies, basically hatched out of the jungle films of long ago, involving in the 1970s with so-call documentaries which often proved nothing more than a new variation of the exploitation genre, these included taboo topics from hidden secretive tribes, it’s actually director Umberto Lenzi’s Man from Deep River (1972) as the first cannibal movie. By 1978 Sergio Martino’s The Mountain of the Cannibal God set the tone for these films, consisting outside invaders to these native regions, forbidden territories looking for their own fame and fortunes without any regard for the indigenous people. These movies help show the possibilities of unseen beauties and mysteries of forgotten people, sadly the invasion of technology and business raped these lands, people, and innocence, except in rare cases such as North Sentinel, where a missionary was killed in 2018. Since then the theme of cannibalism spread wildly in the horror genre, with Cannibal Apocalypse (1980) and Parents (1989), though can’t overlook The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977) these movies contain the hints of cannibalism feasting.
The film starts well-enough to disguise itself from the viewers, in the sense that they are unsure if what they saw was real or fiction, as the mockumentary or found footage, mainly the hand-held camera work never occurred before, and their scope of the outside world very much limited. It involves a documentary team consisting of filmmaker Alan Yates (Gabriel Yorke (Ghost in the Machine )), his girlfriend Faye Daniels (Francesca Ciardi (Death Walks )), two cameramen, and a guide who disappeared while filming in the Amazon. After a short segment of various board members and other talking heads, Professor Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman (The Clairvoyant )) leads a small expedition into the jungle to find out what happened to them, along their route deeper into the dense landscape they see numerous ceremonies from ritualistic rape to murder. They avoid nature’s pitfalls and survive warring factions of the tribes of cannibals while trying to discover what occurred with the original filmmakers. Their presence leads to ghastly discoveries, situations of inhumanity filling the screen with gore, guts and bloodshed, needless to say, the insanity ratchets fairly high in the flick, aided by some beautiful aerial shots, cinematography by Sergio D’Offizi (House on the Edge of the Park ).
First, let’s deal with the animal deaths in the movie, they all were real, but the director noted food was given to the tribes, this caused tremendous outrage with the viewers and the cinematic public condemned the movie on this lone aspect. However there’s never a justified reason to kill an animal in a movie, excluding documentaries or television shows showing nature in action (i.e. predators vs. prey), if one is acceptable to this practice then honestly anything goes approach becomes quite immoral and dangerous. It’s really a messed up philosophy! Secondly, the iconic and infamous poster image of a woman impaled on a stick, this was an ingenious crafty design. The woman accords Ruggero, very calm and unusually still as she sat on bicycle seat that was attached to the pole’s base while holding a piece of balsa wood in her mouth giving the illusion the wooden pole enters the rectum and up her throat exiting her mouth. Then simply added mud and fake blood, angle the shot and wham instant legendary marketing forever. It wasn’t all Ruggero wanted, 10-days after the initial release in Milan, the courts in Italy seized the movie, and arrested the director for obscenity and several counts of murders for committing them on the screen of his actors, facing life in prison, as authorities saw it all as snuff movie. As part of larger marketing scheme, the cast signed contacts to disappear for a year maintaining the illusion they all died, this likely would be very difficult nowadays with social media, but I still have a way it can be done. Curious contact me! Needless to say, an actor of the film named Luca Barbareschi was told to contact the other actors and arrive in court, after some lengthy discussions the charges were dismissed. By 1983 the movie generated a very curious group of fans, cult following and the morbidly curious, and in Japan where only E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) beat it at the theater in terms of box office receipts. The film also influences some hardcore metal and grindcore bands, namely Necrophagia to release a song called “Cannibal Holocaust”.
Simply stated, this definitely is not for everyone, high level of warning this borders on obscene, which often is in the eye of the beholder, the director since then regrets his making of the movie, however it still ranks on numerous lists for horror fans. The biggest problem the film has it never breaks the tension, it’s in constant usage of shocking scenes repeating, and that can become mind-numbing, desensitizing the hardcore viewers. While it’s full of gore and bloody moments, those elements need to have a reason to find themselves presented on the screen, hence while it tops Faces of Death (1978) and The Wizard of Gore (1970), it can’t nor does it become a classic like that of Zombie (1979) or Suspiria (1977). Therefore, the film will always have a firm connection to controversies namely the animal mutilations and killings, but it’s bleak tone makes it for a one-time viewing, unless you enjoy cinema that’s both disturbing and provoking.
- Ripout! Barbeque! Devour! How long can you take it?
- The most controversial movie of all-time
- They eat and they are eaten!
- The most savage and brutal film in modern history
- Cruel * Barbaric * Authentic
- You won’t believe that what you’re seeing could have happened!
- The one that goes all the way!
- Don’t turn away! Look at it! These are men, men like you!
- The men you will see eaten alive, are the same who filmed these incredible sequences
- Better to rest in peace in the warm body of a friend than in the cold ground
- The most controversial movie ever made
- Can a movie go too far?
- The film they did not want you to see!
- This is not an imitation, this is the original, the one that goes all the way
- In 1979 four documentary filmmakers disappeared in the jungles of South America while shooting a film about cannibalism… Six months later, their footage was found
- The film that can’t be shown on television (France re-release)
- Welcome to the jungle
- Those who filmed it were devoured alive by cannibals!
- Savage! * Terrifying! * True!
- Eaten Alive! The Ultimate Terror Movie
- The most grueling film ever made.
- The mother of all cannibal films.
IMDb Rating: 5.9/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.5/10