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Cannibal Holocaust

Cannibal Holocaust (1979)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 2
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 1



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Average Rating: 3.4/5
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Movie Info

An anthropologist heads a rescue party into the South American jungle to find a missing film team making a documentary on cannibal tribes but can only return with their footage, which reveals their crueler intentions.



Gianfranco Clerici

Dec 20, 2005

Blackest Heart Media

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All Critics (15) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (6) | DVD (11)

Its pointed attack on exploitative film-making seems somewhat rich in the circumstances, but this is well made, uniquely unpleasant and almost deserving of its huge cult status.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[VIDEO ESSAY] Apart from being a truly disturbing film, "Cannibal Holocaust" serves up a cold plate of scathing social commentary.

November 14, 2011 Full Review Source:

Cannibal Holocaust is certainly unpleasant, uncomfortable, even offensive - which is to say that it is uncompromisingly true to its genre - but that is not to undermine its fierce, probing intelligence.

September 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Deodato became confused and made the very thing he was ostensibly criticising.

July 6, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

Basically perfect: it achieves its goals in virtually every respect. Deodato made a movie whose purpose is to make me feel awful, and I do.

September 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

This is, bar none, the most revolting, weird and disturbing cannibal film I have ever seen.

March 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comments (4)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Ruggero Deodato's purposefully unwatchable opus questions the film image's validity while debasing it

November 16, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

The completely heinous nature of the exposed through its own inconsistencies.

October 24, 2007 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

The effect is now familiar, but back then it was incredibly shocking, as most viewers believed every word of it.

July 15, 2006 Full Review Source:

It may be the nastiest of the Video Nasties.

May 27, 2006 Full Review Source:

... specious commentary on the manipulation of violence in news and documentary footage and the exploitation of sordid spectacle for entertainment.

December 14, 2005 Full Review Source: St@tic Multimedia

Most of the enduring grindhouse movies lose the residue of sweaty misanthropy through the simple, inevitable obsolescence of their hard-candied centers of shock value.

October 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

The actual savages involved with Cannibal Holocaust are the ones behind the camera.

August 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness | Comments (12)
Lessons of Darkness

Whether or not it was his intention, it is also possible to discern a message amid the cruelty: read this as a savage indictment of the power of the media in general, and exploitative documentary filmmaking in particular.

October 4, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

Audience Reviews for Cannibal Holocaust

It's an ironically venomous counterpoint to have melodic, almost beautifully serene music to play over pornographically violent images and Deodato masters it. In the sprawling jungle, barbaric, "backwards" tribes live by their own "rules of conduct" which include a baneful punishment for adultery and cannibalism. This is one of the first examples of cinema verite for horror and while it's influential and certainly jolting in its ultra-realistic mutilation, it's only moderately successful. The appearance of validity is definitely virtuoso (ex. Some of the production "rushes" are devoid of NAT sound) and most of the animal vivisection was not simulated (a turtle is cruelly eviscerated). Deodato is stupendous at unwinding the haughty American ego of creating the news when none is extant and underestimating the superstitious locals who believe Kerman captured someone's soul on a tape recorder. The auteur director and his accomplices' comeuppances are outlandishly raw in a fly-on-the-wall vantage point. Overall, the film admirably skirts camp value and retains a disturbing verisimilitude despite the desynchronized dubbing and lack of emotional attachment to the filmmakers who torch the village to spur the cannibals' retribution.
October 22, 2011
Cory Taylor

Super Reviewer

There is no possible way to walk away from watching Italian horror maestro Ruggero Deodato's magnum opus, Cannibal Holocaust, without being changed by it. Quite possibly one of the hardest and most savagely unwatchable films I have ever struggled to watch succeeds what it sets out to do, make the audience feel completely awful that they are watching this movie. The acting is unbelievably realistic, adding to the further hyperrealism horror that this film is so famous for, and with the actual killing of seven animals, all filmed, the animal cruelty in this film cannot be matched by any film I have seen (From a pig being kicked and shot with a rifle to a turtle being decapitated and disemboweled). This is one of the most horribly graphic films made and it is made even more disturbing by Riz Ortolani's score, and most prominently the frequently reoccurring love theme song. The footage is shot using the cinéma vérité technique, thus adding further realism and depth to the characters and environment, but this also increases the realism of the graphic violence, gang rape and cannibalism. This is like the works of David Cronenburg and Pier Paolo Pasolini, much less of a horror film and much more of an endurance test, how much can you watch before you cannot stomach it any further. A recommendation for only the most die-hard horror and gore fans, because this compared to Saw or Hostel is like comparing Care Bears with The Exorcist, others don't compare in the slightest.
September 27, 2011
Matthew Roe
Matthew Roe

Super Reviewer

This is one of the very few films that, after viewing, make me feel the most ultimate sensations of repulsion, hopelessness, and awfulness. This is vile and sickening, not even warranting the stamp of 'entertainment.' It promises intense violence that gorehounds would crave, but it is portrayed in such an ugly form, that there is no style. It's pain and misery on film cells that, without any knowledge of the movie's origins, could easily pass for snuff. The movie has a stunning and incredibly eerie musical score, so that's something. But no. Screw this movie. And it's message. And it's existence. And it's purpose.

There's gory over-the-top, sometimes hard-to-watch grindhouse horror. And then there's Cannibal Holocaust.
May 30, 2011
Kevin Cookman

Super Reviewer

"Disgusting and Vile, The most savage documentary every put onto film"...

----"LOOK AT THEM! These men are just like YOU!"----

Ruggero Deodato may be the most hated film director on the planet for his disturbing exploitation masterpiece that is Cannibal Holocaust. It's truly one of the few films that lives up to the hype its marketing gives it. The posters scream, "The one that goes all the way!" How true. "Can a movie go too far?" I think in this instance, yes. Cannibal Holocaust is now and will always be the most disturbing motion picture ever made. The brutality in what it shows and the unbelievable disregard for emotion that the film makers portray is enough to make you shudder without actually seeing the movie. Some of the displays in the movie are hard to even believe a human being could think up such vile and putrid acts, and they're shown in raw, uncut form. Deodato doesn't try to stray away from the action or try to censor with camera tricks. He sticks the camera right into the mix and displays some of the most shocking and nauseating images ever put to film. Of course it's perverse, and of course it's putrid, objectionable, and all other vile things you can think of, but despite all this, it's still an incredible film; a true landmark in movie history.

The movie begins with a TV program about the documentarians who go missing - Alan Yates, director; Faye Daniels, script girl and Alan's fiancé; and Mark Tomasso and Jack Anders, both cameramen. NYU anthropology professor Harold Monroe heads to the Amazon to lead the search "team," which consists of a hardened jungle guide and his young, talented assistant. They witness disturbing and shocking rituals by all three local tribes, the Yakumo, Yanomano, and Shamitari, which is the beginning of the moral stand Deodato takes. After gaining some trust with the Yanomanos, Monroe discovers that the documentarian troupe had been killed. Frustrated with the Yanomanos' hostility and brutality, Monroe trades the group's footage (possessed by the Yanomanos) for a tape recorder. Back in New York, he views the material and discovers who the real savages are. As the film starts out, we sympathize with these four who, for the sake of information, go into the jungle for research, only to be savagely mutilated by brutal primitives. However, we come to realize that the natives were the victims of civilized society by being tortured and exploited in incredibly grotesque and inhumane ways by the documentarians, which ultimately lead to their demise in an incredible, horrifying, and disturbing climax. The climax is all the more disturbing that Faye, the script girl, received the full blunt of retribution, when she was, in fact, seemingly innocent and took no participation in the evil (and actually tries to stop it). The trouble is that she's powerless to the three other men in her group. What Deodato's intentions were to include a character like Faye is unclear, other than maybe to heighten the disturbing factor of the film's climax.

It pulls no punches. There is no chance for you to escape. Every time you think you're finally safe, you're slammed with more and more visceral content. It never stops. However, Deodato does make these horrifying and disturbing images into a cinematic masterpiece. What separates Cannibal Holocaust from other exploitative sleaze (other than being competently made and well acted) is the inclusion of subtle social commentary. Had this been a film that was grotesque for the sake of being grotesque (like Lenzi's later Cannibal Ferox, Also still an equal I like), it would be as reprehensible as many claim. However, the movie instead tests our ethics and our stomachs with some of the most realistically gruesome images ever portrayed on film. The message is simple: while we can think of outsiders and, in some cases, primitives as savages, our hate and discrimination can turn US into the savages (such as racist hate of minorities). The film makes us look into ourselves. We came from savagery, and savages we are. The pinnacle of this is during a scene where the film makers impale a young girl that they just raped, and are smiling at the disturbing result. This also reflects what incredibly visceral images we as humans can find as entertaining, and also suggests that the media stages their sensationalized footage (like the film makers in the movie). And if not, it condemns the media for focusing on the violence and exploitation of the news instead of trying for honest journalism. How is easily explained. The team's goal was to produce harrowing and nasty footage, all to make into a "documentary," and obviously, the more shocking, the more unbelievable, the more successful, and staged the footage to achieve this. The all too obvious irony is that this film is in itself morally reprehensible, and still has an incredible following and fan base and here in Korea!

Though it is an incredible film, it's obviously not for everyone, especially the animal activist, as six animals are actually killed on screen, which is probably the most controversial aspect of the film, and the worst part of which is that the animal killings are actually unnecessary, and have no ground in the plot or morals of the rest of the movie. However, the fake human violence alone, whether it's simple gore or horrific rape, is enough to make it the most brutal movie experience ever. Other mainstream shockers such as Texas Chain Saw Massacre pale in comparison to the savagery of what is Cannibal Holocaust. Never have I felt so depressed after viewing a film, which is amplified by Riz Ortolani's beautiful, flowing melody that shocks and disturbs at times by playing during the most disturbing parts of the movie. If you are able to stomach the film enough to see it, hopefully you'll be able to look past the violence, disgusting material, cruel animal killings, and the outright evil this film depicts and see the true nature of a political statement. The downfall of the cannibal genre, Cannibal Holocaust truly stands in a league of its own.
May 28, 2011
Ariuza k.
Ariuza koraw

Super Reviewer

    1. Professor Harold Monroe: I wonder who the real cannibals are?
    – Submitted by michael s (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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