Cannibal Holocaust Review

One of the most talked about films of all time, "Cannibal Holocaust" is entering its 30th year of existence as gruesome and as stirring as it was upon release. Directed with teeth-grinding efficiency by Ruggero Deodato, the cult commotion-stirrer is hampered by its lack of availability. Had it ever been given moderate distribution, as opposed to being banned in so many countries, it would merit its well-deserved title as one of the most socially relevant horror pictures ever made.

     The plot, carved with essential simplicity, follows this path: after a group of documentary filmmakers chronicling the lives of a cannibalistic tribe disappears, a crew is led into the jungles to find them. Instead, they retreat to the network with only loose footage, supposedly of the filmmakers' exploits. As soon as the tape arrives in the hands of the executives at the network, squabbles begin over the possible airing of the video on television. But even before they view the content, the debate escalates. Should they show what may essentially be the murder of an overzealous group of Americans to a television audience? Or are they responsible to allow the nation to examine the habits and behavior of this volatile tribe? And how spectacular would the ratings be?

     Before the film is even glimpsed at, the viewer is already drawn in by the debate, both sides of which have compelling arguments. However, we are seated with the network execs as they bear witness to the videos. We see the crew jokingly get ready for the trip. We see them calmly kid around with each other in a foreign country. We see them feed off of nature's creations, savagely mutilating a rat and disemboweling a turtle for food. We see them meet with the tribe and collapse on their daily lives, filming their every activity. We see them release frustration by raping a tribeswoman who doesn't appear to be of consenting age. Soon enough, we question who the animals really are. It is not long before the filmmakers meet their untimely end, in the hands of the tribe in spectacularly gruesome and realistically bloody glory.

     Many have compared recent films like "The Last Broadcast" and "The Blair Witch Project" to "Cannibal Holocaust". However, the film it may bear a closer resemblance to is "Apocalypse Now". Both films are shocking, unbelievable depictions of the evil and debauchery that live within the hearts and minds of humanity. It is what the presence of death can do to a fragile state of mind. As the videos finish playing for the network executives, they sit silently in their seats, teetering uncomfortably. Soon, one by one, they begin to stand up and walk listlessly out of the screening area, shaken for life by what they have just seen. It is how many viewers no doubt have felt watching "Cannibal Holocaust". Polarizing is a phrase not often used to describe a viewing experience, but even the most hardcore horror fans will feel their food come up during portions of Ruggero Deodato's knockout punch. In the canon of horror films, "Cannibal Holocaust" is a truly gutsy entry, a shocker of unparalleled power and visceral force unequaled in its genre.

Review by: Gabe Toro

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