Cannibal Holocaust (1980): Yell! Magazine’s Classics of Exploitation Series



Directed by Ruggero Deodato Written by Gianfranco Clerici
Starring Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen

95 mins - Cannibal | Exploitation | Horror - Release date: 7 February 1980 (Italy)

There are no redeeming factors to this, the greatest of the Italian cannibal films. One of the goriest, if not the goriest films ever made, its release resulted in Director Ruggero Deodato being arrested when authorities thought the movie was real and believed it to be a snuff film. When the director proved the actors were still alive, he received the lighter sentence of four months for animal cruelty.

The film received an X rating, which killed its distribution and was banned from many countries. But with a dedicated following and cult status worldwide, the film has stuck around for 30-plus years. Grindhouse has released a two-disc DVD that gives a remastered, uncut version of the film with a ton of extras.

The film itself tells the story of a rescue mission sent into the Amazon rainforest to retrieve a missing American film crew whose work was to document the culture and living habits of the native cannibal tribes of the region.

The team fails to save the crew as they are all dead by the time the team arrives. Only their remaining bones serve as evidence that the film crew was there. Well, bones and the crew’s film reels that the team convince the tribe to relinquish.

The rest of Cannibal Holocaust has the executives of Pan American Broadcast Company and Howard Monroe (Robert Kerman), the rescue team leader, first review the raw footage then broadcast an edited version of the recordings. The pre-edited reels show the crew raping and killing natives and the natives returning the favor with cannibalism added to the violence (we as the audience watch along with the players). By the end, Monroe wonders who were the worse savages, the natives or the film crew.

The Verdict:

Cannibal Holocaust is neither for the faint of heart nor for those easily upset by disturbing images. If you are a fan of horror and gore, and you haven't seen this film, you are sorely lacking a true point of reference and comparison. But if you're not, avoiding this film may be your best course of action. One of the most famous of the exploitation films of the '80s, Cannibal Holocaust is not for the mainstream.

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