Cannibal Holocaust is still considered one of the most controversial Italian horror films ever made, both because of the animal cruelty and by the fact that the film was banned all around the world, therefore making people curious to see why.
The film could also be interpreted as a nihilist savage satire. Deodato was shocked by how sensational media portrayed violence on T.V. (of course, it’s much worse now so the film may have more meaning today than back in 1980) and decided to do something about it. So he went to Amazon and shot the story of four documentary filmmakers who mysteriously vanish while shooting a documentary about a primitive civilization deep in the Amazonian jungle.
The film is beautifully shot on location, has a serious (maybe too serious) melodramatic soundtrack which main theme repeating itself each time we see a atrocity. And we see what some consider atrocities almost all the time.
The film’s director, Ruggero Deodato was arrested at the original release, the audience thought he created a snuff film and that the film’s for leading characters were really cannibalized. In other words, Deodato achieved the realistic effect he was after and more… For a low budget horror film, the special effects in Cannibal Holocaust are terrific. Having shown the film to my friends (some would not watch it simply because of the animal cruelty) females liked the film more than males. One of them was so scared near the end he began chewing his nails and trembling, asking me: ‘Did they really kill them’?
This is Eli Roth’s favourite film. Tarantino calls Cannibal Holocaust terrific. Deodato appears even in Hostel 2 as a cannibal. In 2005 a 2 disc deluxe uncensored edition was released. It even contains a animal free-version in the unlikely case someone might be interested to see the horror film without the horror. The special features include a music video by Jim Van Bebber (The Manson Family) and interviews with the makers. Deodato says that his friend, Oliver Stone asked him how does he feel with the filmmakers of The Blair Witch Project making hundreds of millions stealing his ideas.
The film’s star, Robert Kerman says Deodato has no soul and that one day after work saw Deodato running to catch a bowl (the crew got this for dinner each day). Kerman says he wished the bowl would have killed Deodato that day. Kerman’s nose is running when talking about censorship, he insisted that the scene where the muskrat is killed to be removed. Then he tells us what a great time he had eating the bowl’ fresh meat every day.
On top of all of it, it’s the way these shocking scenes were shot by these four greedy filmmakers (we’re talking about a film within a film), which mirrors today’s tastelessness and sensationalism.
A key scene in the film is a conversation between Kerman’s character and a bloodthirsty producer who wants to present the found material on T.V. Let’s be realistic, she says. Who know anything about this civilazation? Today people want sensationalism. The more you rape their senses, the happier they are. Kerman replies with sarcasm that this very same Western thought is what caused those civilized people to be killed and eaten alive.
At the end, he concludes: I wonder who the real cannibals are…