(Review originally written at 20 September 2007)

There are lots of cannibal movies over the years and they are all equally gory and provocative but yet also ridicules because of their overwritten silly stories with silly plot-lines and characters. This really is not the case "Cannibal Holocaust", since it chooses an effective and realistic approach by partly telling the entire movie in documentary style. It was also one of the reasons why many people at the time and still believe that this is a snuff movie, with real people getting killed in it. It still makes this one of the most controversial films ever made, even to this date. In its genre, this was a quite modern movie at its time. The approach was new to people and it surprised them. Director Ruggero Deodato got almost prosecuted in Italy for slaying real people in front of the camera and the movie was also banned in several countries for graphic gore, sexual violence, and for the genuine slaying of six animals featured in the film. I believe it's even banned in some countries till this date. At least I really wouldn't be surprised if it was.

It's quite hard now to believe that people at time thought that the events in this movie were all real. I mean, the acting is so bad and the blood is typically early '80's fake reddish looking and all sequences are all too obviously staged, filmed and cut. But then again there will be always people who keep believing these sort of things. Remember at the time of "The Blair Witch Project", in 1999, many people thought that one was real as well. The whole controversy, that is even now still surrounding this movie, makes it part of its charisma and cult status. This alone is for many people reason to watch it.

But really this movie is so much more than. Intentionally or not (opinios differ on it) the movie also works great as a social commentary on various aspects of modern civilization and sensationalism. Themes in this movie still apply today, which makes this movie just as powerful effective and relevant as almost 30 years ago. Especially the plot line with the producers wanting to release the shot documentary, to meet the public's demands and needs still applies and would be relevant today. People always have had an hunger for real violence, war and other things like that on TV. TV stations try to exploit this as best as possible, with shows such as "Cops" and "The Jerry Springer Show". But also on the regular every day news, with more images of war areas and natural disasters and such coming on, day in, day out. even though you really don't want to see these things, you subconsciously still think and say; why doesn't the camera move in any closer? Why don't they show more of what happened? Etcetera. The human curiosity and fascination for the unknown is simply too big to feed. For instance nobody wanted to see Nick Berg being decapitated an Islamic terror group in Iraq but still thousands, if not millions of people watched the video online, which proofs my point.

Yes, this movie is an extremely graphic and gory one. Not only because of the human slaying and cannibalism in the movie but also, if not more, because of the REAL animal killings in it. The turtle sequences is already legendary. For those who've always been interested in how the insides of an turtle look like; watch this movie! Also shocking are the many sexual abuse- and killing rituals in this movie. Even though I'm no woman, I can still imaging the pain. But also the male crowed will have something shocking thrown at them, involving the one-eyed trouser snake.

The movie looks mostly realistic due to its limited resources and restrained budget. Basically halve of the movie is done in documentary style which only adds to this. The camera-work is extremely effective. Suggestive camera-work often works more effective than cutting back and forth between different camera-angles. Also of course the jungle and natives portrayed in this movie adds to the claustrophobic and more horror kind of atmosphere.

The movie has such a great symphonic theme! Something you really wouldn't expect from a movie like this and it seems out of place but yet perfectly suits the images on screen. Italian horror scores and scores in general are often under-appreciated, simply because of the fact that they aren't really widely known and released.

Works great as a fascinating and extremely gory cannibalism movie but perhaps works ever more striking as a social commentary, which still applies today.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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