Cannibal Holocaust (1980)


Ah, the ‘video nasty’. A phrase coined for the list of films that the Director of Public Prosecutions made that was deemed in breach of the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 (and later amended in 77 so that the porn films didn’t feel left out and could be included too), after a series of police raids (yes, actual raids) and seizure of stock in video rental shops and retailers, proprietors made demands to know just what films they could and couldn’t sell without expecting the Keystone Cops to barge in with their truncheons and lower the tone of their establishments further.

Cannibal Holocaust was one such lucky film to make the list (even though the version that made the DPP scribble a little frowny face next to it’s title was cut within an inch of it’s life), it remains to this day one of the most notoriously graphic and brutal exploitation films ever made.

Now let’s all admit, that if a film has been banned, shunned, had holy water thrown in it’s general direction, it just makes us want to see it even more – forbidden fruit and all that jazz … but the real question is, is it actually any good?

The story follows a rescue team that have been sent to discover the whereabouts of a missing documentary film crew, who disappeared two months previously while filming cannibal tribes in the South American jungle. The team manage to win the trust of the tribes, and recover the footage of the crew, with reveals that their intentions weren’t so wholesome after all.

Standard horror film set up I’ll grant you, but this one actually turns out to be quite interesting in terms of it’s views on culture, survival and the nature of man in general. The thinking gore whore’s cannibal flick if you will.

First of all, let me warn you that if you are an animal lover, this film is not for you. – which I discovered a little too late. The animal deaths are real and you will see them murdered on camera, although I understand that the carcasses were eaten by the cast and crew, so their demises were not merely for the sake of ‘art’. While I don’t agree with the methodology of killing animals in for entertainment, I cant deny that it highlighted the movies message of ‘survival of the fittest’ and the necessity of nature, more than words ever could. The scenes are very affecting, and the sometimes extremely harrowing, but as we all know, nature is sometimes violent and without conscience, and at the top of the food chain, humanity is a prime example of this. I’m not condoning any of it, just stating the facts, and trying to be as unbiased as I can, because after all, it’s not all that the film is, whatever my feelings are on the issue.

Maybe I’m growing as a person ..

It’s incredibly graphic, and if you are the slightest bit squeamish then my advice is to avoid the film like the plague, but the violence is not completely gratuitous, and relevant to both the plot and the points the director is trying to make. I can understand why it’s so controversial and why so many even hardcore horror fans have found it abhorrent, but for me Cannibal Holocaust is the definitive cannibal film, whether you love it or pray for it’s mortal soul.

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