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Movie Reviews

Cannibal Holocaust



Released: 7th February 1980

Director: Ruggero Deodato

Stars:Robert Kerman, Gabriel Yorke, Francesca Ciardi

Certificate: 18

Reviewer: Sam Matthews

Ruggero Deodato, the macabre dago who directed Cannibal Holocaust was already renowned for his controversial ideologies and applications to film without already looking like a deliciously sinister Italian Richard Dawkins. Deodato was fascinated with indigenous tribes and their cannibalistic nature and how Western society portrayed such violence and lifestyle. Accordingly, it came to Deodato during an afternoon rant with his son at the news coverage of the Red Brigade’s terrorism. Presumably, this was prior to kicking time for the Spinone puppies that dwelled in his basement.

Of course, this wasn’t a sadomasochist’s attempt at torturing and needlessly slaughtering animals on set (despite the 20 minute footage of a turtle’s entrails being speckled across the screen like strawberry scented confetti) but was to show viewers how life was in the less populated countries and islands and how ignorant we have become to disregard that. Personally, it succeeded; I had lost all hope for humanity and wondered why so much abhorrence exists upon watching the

first 10 minutes of footage. Obviously, the graphic content was to convey the amount of hatred, bloodlust and ‘evil’ that coincides with human nature but it’s a losing cause when the animals that have become near extinct and have been eradicated were mainly the works of Deodato.

I did countless research into the controversy behind Cannibal Holocaust and there seems to be a rather substantial cult circle around it. The animal beatings and killings were indeed real to add to the effect albeit viewers didn’t discover this, merely thinking the prop boy outdid himself. You could only imagine the look on everybody’s faces during the time period in which the movie was released; “Steven…” “Yes…?” “That turtle’s plastron appears to be an extraordinary replica of Bubbles, my cuddly household leatherback.” “How delightfully absurd.”

Subsequently, protest groups and speculation became erect after hearing about the animal rumours. Journalists were literally frothing out of the mouths, rolling in a mellow epileptic paste to question Deodato on the film. At some point, questions arose on whether the actors were really being ripped to shreds on camera because even the human innards appeared TOO authentic but the rosy-cheeked Luigi of cannibalistic tribes-men announced that it was all fake and the actors involved signed a contract to never appear in any shape or form of media once the film was released to heighten the realism. Of course, this wiggled the curiosity of hundreds of journalists and Deodato was arrested.

I digress, I seemed to have gotten a little off-track but the controversy behind the production sparks more significance than the film itself. Anyway, knuckles clicked, coffee steaming and lips suggestively licked, let’s get into the story. Owning the uncut version of the DVD, I was fortunately able to subject myself to every horrific animal beat down and basin cut nude mud wrestling for over 2 hours. It begins with beautiful shots from a helicopter capturing the Amazonian landscapes for what felt like the entirety of the movie. You know that little feeling you get when you know you’re already getting a little tense in waiting for the intro to cease, searching for an hilarious surname in one of the cast members. “Bigassetti? Haha, who the hell is that?” The soundtracks that were used were so ironically beautiful that it became laughable during some scenes. It was inevitable then, that I downloaded the audio tracks and ‘Fun with Love’ was a delectable summer-esque track you would hear on the only existing walkman concealed by a knitted beach towel in the back of an elderly couple’s car.

Riz Ortolani composed the soundtrack album and it truly did land a heavier punch on me. There’s something about seeing a woman get dragged across the mud, get molested and beaten to death, all with the whimsical accompaniment of Ortolani’s instrumentals. The beginning of the movie tends to drag on and not all of it serves any magnitude to why they are visiting the island. To break it down into admissible bite-size gammon chunks, a foursome of reporters are eager to study the Amazonian tribes and their primitive analingus and armadillo sandwich ways. Meanwhile, a dynamic duo of a professor, Robert Kerman who clings on to the moral high ground so much, he practically carries a side-ladder at all times, not to mention having a gag reflex of a Persian hooker with lock-jaw and a captain who looks as if he stepped out of a Fidel Castro impersonation club. At one scene, the captain, Salvator Basile, trips over and uncovers a deteriorating corpse aligned with maggots and insects crawling throughout the eye holes. He sticks his dagger in to see the teeth and identify them without hesitating once, like a badass. In the meantime, Professor Pukehisguts enters his one of many nauseous instances. Other than spilling his organs before the cannibals get the chance to, he often engages in fixating his vision towards the camera like a suspenseful Hitchcock prelude.

The other actors (a.k.a reporter 1,2,3 and 4) take the liberty of getting their clothes off at any given opportunity. Francesca Ciardi manages to get her AA breasts in almost every shot, regardless of the fact that they look like two neglected elderberries. Other than the acting…well, it would be aimless to elaborate on the technical skills involved. It is not mediocre nor professionally well done, it is simply like staring at a fruit cake. You hate fruit cake and you hate staring at it inconsequentially but it beats eating it. The notorious ‘shaky-cam’ is applied to cause that ‘actually there’ ambience. The writing isn’t very necessary since all we encounter throughout our ruthless journey is rape, rape, gang-rape and rape again.

During my first run of the movie, I often looked at the cover to confirm that the title was genuinely ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ and not ‘Cannibal Molests Small-Titted Reporter Frequently’ although Deodato probably didn’t think that would sell.

The acting isn’t appalling but does almost look comedic with the lack of realism that is displayed. This was probably Deodato’s counteraction towards bad acting. His theory could be to diminish the attention towards the terrible actors with actual snuff material. If only Cloverfield could of made that principle come to life by assembling data with scientific researchers and constructing a colossal monster to tear up the whole of New York. At least then, the denizens outside of the USA would forget that the whole party gimmick lasted longer than the movie.

Not a masterpiece to hold to heart but very disturbing material nonetheless. Cannibal Holocaust is the movie equivalent of making toast but unbeknownst to you, said toast is stuck in the toaster. You could choose to just call a maintenance service and get it repaired but it’s far easier, more spontaneous and could easily land you in an internet fan page if you dribbled on a butter knife, stuck it in there and hoped for the best. It is often recognized as a magnum opus upon many hardcore fans and if I’m caught disagreeing with their proclamation, I’d be riddled with poison darts and skewered at a scorching pot of embers before you can say “È che la morte reale, Ruggero Deodato?”

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