Friday, October 23, 2009

30 Days of Fright - 22: Cannibal Holocaust

People who know me know that I am probably the least likely person in the world to write a diet book, yet I am seriously contemplating publishing what I’m calling The C-Plan. If by this point you’ve guessed that the C stands for Cannibal then well done, however I’m not going to be recommending that you turn man eater but instead simply watch Cannibal Holocaust whenever you’re feeling hungry – trust me it’ll drive thoughts of food right out of your head.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is, as the name suggests, basically an exploitation film about cannibals. A film crew with a reputation for getting extreme footage from war zones head to the Amazon to make a documentary about the native tribes. The crew disappear and an anthropologist is hired by the TV company who were financing the documentary to go and find them.

Monroe, the anthropologist, and his guides go into the rainforest and encounter the tribes living there. They witness the various barbaric traditions of the tribes including cannibalism and, as they get closer to one specific tribe, are dragged into some unsavoury practices. After winning the trust of the tribe, Monroe retrieves the films the missing crew had shot and returns to New York.

The TV company executives push for the release of the film but Monroe discourages them until he finally forces them to watch it for themselves and see not only what happened to the film crew but also what they did down in the Amazon...

I couldn't find a picture from Cannibal Holocaust that was suitable for publishing so here's Dr. Phil, a bloke who wrote a diet book but never missed a fucking meal in his life!*

Cannibal Holocaust is, well, it’s pretty shocking, but it’s not that shocking and to be fair, it’s not that bad. Cannibal was part of a spate of movies that hit cinemas in the late seventies and early eighties and like the zombie craze of about the same time, nearly all these films came from Italy. Unlike its counterparts though, Holocaust actually has some cultural merit.

In terms of the movie itself, the story is decent enough and proved to be the inspiration for films like The Blair Witch Project. The idea of making a documentary in the Amazon must cross TV producers’ minds all the time, and the idea of sending down a team of hardened film makers to get cutting edge footage is reasonable, as is the trouble they get into when they meet the tribes. Sending an anthropologist is also reasonable, so as to smooth over any problems that may have occurred with the natives. Basically, Holocaust is a well written film, though the dialogue is just what you’d expect from a low budget Italian film made in 1980.

The actors chosen for Holocaust are interesting, picked mostly for their Italian credentials as opposed to their acting abilities – one major point of interest is that Robert Kerman, who played Monroe, was a porn star at the time. I think it’s fair to assume that a few of the others in the film were into adult movies too as there’s a good bit of full-on nudity in Cannibal Holocaust and at one point one of the lads (who really liked to rock out with his cock out) performs a move that really belonged more in a porn film then a horror.

Things really got interesting for Cannibal Holocaust once the film got a public airing. After a showing in Milan, the director, Ruggero Deodato, was arrested and charged with murder as the effects in the film were so realistic (for the time) and the documentary scenes looked so authentic (for the time) that the Italian authorities thought Cannibal Holocaust was a snuff film and that some of the on-screen killings were real. Deodato got away with it, but the film was banned for ages, caught up in the video nasty business in the eighties. The film is still controversial as there are genuine scenes of animal cruelty in it that are sickening and some of the cannibal moments are disturbing even to sophisticated modern audiences.

So, if you’re a tubby greedy guts then take a gander at Cannibal Holocaust before meals and you’ll soon be a size zero (and therefore quite un-appetising to local cannibals!)

One Thumb Up and One Thumb Down for Cannibal Holocaust.

* Please note that the Dr. Phil joke is not mine, I nicked it from Denis Leary (who probably nicked it from Bill Hicks!)


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