Ruggero Deodato, who made the surprisingly effective Jungle Holocaust, proves with Cannibal Holocaust that he is just as adept at making a morally repulsive cannibal film as fellow countryman Umberto Lenzi (Eaten Alive, Cannibal Ferox).
Ruggero’s movie somehow manages to actually be worse because he tries to cloak all his gory shenanigans as some type of commentary on the modern world and the primitive world. (At the end of the film, one of the guys wonders who the “real” cannibals were: the film crew that abused the natives or the natives that abused the film crew. Uh, how about the morons that made this and pretended that all their animal killing was some type of commentary on the state of the modern journalism?)
Most will be disgusted by Cannibal Holocaust and a deranged few will be entertained as there is a catalog of nastiness the likes of which haven’t been seen since the last Italian cannibal movie. There’s animal killings, rape, abortion, and worst of all, way too much male nudity!
Like I wasn’t sickened enough seeing this poor tortoise laid out on its back and having its head whacked off and then having to watch as they tear its shell off and play around in its innards, I also had to watch some guys standing around with their tallywhackers hanging out!
The set up for the story is that some guy from New York is sent off to the Amazon to try and find out what happened to a documentary crew that disappeared into what several people call The Green Inferno.
The movie is structured somewhat oddly with the first half of things following this guy trying to find out what happened to the first film crew and the second half concentrating on checking out the footage recovered in the Amazon from the first crew.
Forty-five minutes are spent watching this guy run around with his guide and their sidekick as they try and make friends with various tribes in an effort to figure out what became of the film crew.
The guide is one of those gruff, grubby types who swears a whole lot and is able to recognize the remains of one of his badly decomposed buddies by looking at his teeth.
Our professor, who is supposed to be looking for that film crew, does stuff like throw up when he sees something gross happen and decides to get naked in an effort to gain the trust of one of the local tribes. Somehow or other the tribe wasn’t intimidated by his undersized member and he ends up being guided to the elusive tribe called the Tree People.
They all live in some type of tree house that you might expect to see in Swiss Family Robinson, but unlike the Robinsons, they offer our naked hero some chunks of cooked humans. (I wonder if that was as tasty as the gruel that was puked up by the native women that he also had to eat?)
He manages to trade these natives his gun and tape recorder for the canisters of film that remain from the first group of people. He takes the film back to New York where these TV types want him to host a documentary about the film. He’s a little leery of doing it since he hasn’t seen all the footage, so the projector is fired up and the remainder of the movie consists of watching the footage purportedly shot by that film crew.
The film crew is made up of three scuzzy guys and one skanky broad. Subtlety is clearly not one of Deodato’s fortes as he instantly paints these people as the spotlight craving slugs all TV people clearly are as they constantly babble about how famous this trip is going to make them.
The stupid part of all this is that they aren’t even portrayed as driven professionals willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. Instead, they act more like rowdy frat boys let loose with daddy’s movie camera, more interested in documenting the shower of their female crew member than anything else.
These characters behave so outlandishly that any point Deodatao was trying to make about the “cannibalistic” nature of the media is lost amidst the pointless raping and killing that these goons carry out in the jungle. By the time the natives get their revenge, you don’t really care beyond the fact that it means the movie will be ending soon.
The natives rape, castrate, decapitate and do what ever else they do to kill time in the jungle to the film crew and when it finally ends, the film is so shocking that the TV people order it burned – some things are even too much for the human refuse that are TV executives!
There’s a pointless bit of text before the credits roll about how the projectionist stole the footage and sold it. I guess that’s supposed to give it that “real” feeling, though watching the credits roll and seeing the name “Lamberto Bava” among the crew should dispel that notion in a nanosecond.
The remastered DVD from EC Entertainment does look very nice, giving you a much better picture than you would expect from backwash like this. They also have some interviews with Deodato, including an embarrassingly inept one conducted by his son. This is where you get your biggest laughs as Deodato refers to himself as a “craftsman” and laments that he would like to do a sequel if only he find a story as unique and special as the one in this film.
On the plus side, he does explain how he achieved that effect where the woman was impaled on a pole (it involved a bicycle seat and some balsa wood). Unfortunately he never does explain how he achieved the effect where he pretended to make a movie about anything beyond inflicting meaningless violence on forms of life obviously higher than himself.
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