It's a Friday night in the 1980's. Disco is dead and lounges are for lizards. You don't want to hit the bars as you're not one of those faggots who think it's always 5 o'Clock somewhere. You know where you need to be? At that run-down cinema down on the far end of town. One of those old grindhouses with soda sticky floors, stale popcorn nobody ever buys, and people fucking in the back row at four in the afternoon. Yeah! That's the place to be! And Cannibal Holocaust is playing as the better half of a double feature. It's a great time to be alive...
A Summary of the film
The film opens on a beautiful shot of the Amazonian Rainforest. Soothing music plays in the background. We cut to a movie studio in New York City in the present day (Ok, present in the '70's, but close enough). A news reporter states, "Man is omnipotent; nothing is impossible for him. What seemed like unthinkable undertakings yesterday are history today. The conquest of the moon for example: who really talks about it anymore? Today we are already on the threshold of conquering our galaxy, and in a not too distant tomorrow, we'll be considering the conquest of the universe, and yet man seems to ignore the fact that on this very planet there are still people living in the stone age and practicing cannibalism".
A studio executive is talking to his crew. Some young film makers went into "the green inferno" to shoot a documentary, but never came back; they are presumed to be dead. The studio has decided to do a documentary on the film makers, and to send someone with huge brass balls to rescue the footage. They find a man with balls the size of the ice berg that sunk the titanic (the actor was a notable porn-star before his role in this movie). He agrees to shoot the documentary and find the film.
He starts out easy by asking people around New York City about the people who went missing. They seem like normal enough folks. Feel free to fast forward through this part, even if the dad complaining about his son running around with a camera instead of getting a real job is amusing. With the boring shit out of the way, he heads to the green inferno. He meets up with some Colombians who agree to help him find his way through the jungle. They aren't happy about the documentary people going missing either: they knew the guy who was leading him; he was freaking awesome in the jungle. The Colombians figure the kids did something stupid and the cannibals hunted them. No stupidity this time: they get a smart mother fucker to lead the party.
The smart guide goes into the edge of the jungle and catches a tribal boy. They get him coked up, feed him some "muskrat" guts (apparently a tribal delicacy), and convince him to lead them to his village. On their expedition, they watch a woman smeared with mud get brutally raped and murdered via giant stone stake in the vagina. Death by giant sharpened dildo apparently is a jungle punishment for sleeping around. Once they get to the village, they give the boy to the tribe, acting like they totally rescued him. The Village is pissy because the last white people who visited them were jackasses, but is eventually convinced these guys are cool via the power of drugs and exotic and uniquely gratifying white cock. They get a native guy to lead them deeper in the jungle.
First, they find the missing guide only to discover that - yep, he's dead. Then they find two tribes fighting and help chase one of them off. The Colombian sends out a badass kid who impresses the natives by surviving the jungle version of a Mexican Standoff: one dude vs twenty natives with poison darts. It works, and the villagers now respect them. These villagers are part of the Tree People, so named because they like to get stoned, not bathe, and live in a giant fucking treehouse. They are led to the Tree People village. The Tree People totally have the film and are using it as a talisman to ward away white people. They try to convince the Tree People it doesn't work (there's a white guy right there! lol!) but it fails. So the white guy records the shaman chanting on a tape recorder and plays it back to them. Convinced that he's a magic man, they give him the film in exchange for the tape recorder. Everyone gets out of the jungle alive. Oh yeah, but first, they force the expedition to dine on the decomposed corpses of humans.
The ballsy guy gets back to NYC and looks at the film. He tells the studio to cancel the documentary. They don't listen. He lets them see the footage taken so far and they see nothing wrong with it, even though there's a scene where the pornstar guy gets naked and swims in the river with a bunch of underage girls, who feel his hefty, chadly dick up. Then they see what the documentary team shot.
The film starts with some young college guys: Mark and Jack: the Cameraguys, and Alan: the Director. They work with Alan's Girlfriend/script girl, Fae. They're horsing around, taking video of Fae without a shirt, getting drunk- you know, standard college stuff. They go to the green inferno; they act like it's spring break. It's not like they're going into a deadly jungle or anything. They argue with their guide. They don't care what has to die around them and are amused by the death and suffering they find. They run across a woman impaled on a stake and make dick jokes. They watch a woman give birth, then the villagers stone the baby and bury it alive. They make racist jokes. The guide is getting tired of the morons and wants to go back. They go deeper into the jungle even though the guide thinks it's a bad idea. The guide, distracted by the dumbasses, gets bitten by a venomous snake and dies. The dumbasses are now lost in the jungle but still think they're going to be fine because they're white.
They see a villager out looking for food, but he doesn't seem dangerous. Jack shoots him in the leg instead of talking to him because all natives are dangerous. He then follows the native back to his village; it is the village where the boy we saw earlier was raised. The poor native guy's leg is infected; he is going to die from that gunshot wound, and is in a lot of pain. Alan gets a brilliant idea: he shoots the villagers livestock (pigs), then shoves as many villagers as he can into a hut and lights it on fire. Alan makes the guys film it because mass murder is totally rad. He then fucks his girlfriend on the beach while the natives watch their village burn down.
They decide to go deeper into the jungle to find the Tree People. The guys get horny and Zerg Rape the natives. Fae tries to stop them because she thinks they're stupidly wasting film, and gets raep'd too. They can't find the Tree Nigger's village despite burning and raping their way through the jungle. It's OK, the natives find them instead and hit Jack with a spear. Alan shoots him, but they get swarmed by pissed off tribesmen, who proceed to dismember and eat Jack. Fae is found by the villagers from the village they burned earlier. She is dragged into the mud and raped before being beheaded. Her boyfriend Alan films the whole thing and does nothing to save her. The remaining males are picked off and eaten one by one. They behead some guy's pen0r before eating it. The survivors just sit there and film each other being killed and eaten. The final guy takes some selfies of himself being murdered.
Ohmagerd! Ban this Filth!
This film contains...
- People killing real live animals
- Dead and dying people
- Murder via fire, gunshot, sharpened stone dildo, etc.
- lots of body mutilation and cannibalism
- People fucking on-camera
Sure, lots of films contain these things, but all of those films look sort of fake. The director wanted things to be as realistic as possible. He wanted the deaths to look real, so he had real animals die onscreen among the human actors. He wanted the sex to be real, but the actor had a girlfriend and didn't want to cheat. He used a dildo positioned near his dick instead. Casts made from real skeletons were draped in meat to make the human bodies being eaten look as realistic as possible. Actual rainforest natives were hired and used as much as possible. If he could find a way to make it look real, the director did it.
Naturally, everyone freaked the fuck out even in the film's native country of Italy. Italy banned the film until 1984 and didn't allow an uncut version to be sold for almost twenty years. Britain wouldn't show Cannibal Holocaust in theaters and banned the film on videotape in 1983 declaring it to be one of the "Video nasties". To this day the uncut version still can't be purchased or aired in the UK. Australia, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, the USA and more all banned the film in 1984. Australia and the USA unbanned it in 2005 without edits. We suspect this is because these days some people now get off on it so there is porn much worse than Cannibal Holocaust out there right now. New Zealand, in contrast, pussied out and decided to renew the ban in 2006 and the film is still banned today.
All of the bans is why Cannibal Holocaust is rightfully known as "The Most Controversial Movie Ever Made". But were the bans right? Let's look at the reasons...
Yes, actual animals died in this film. The director said it was OK at the time because they were all fed to the natives who like barbecue as much as anyone else. The animals were all killed instantly or close to it without suffering. After watching his film be banned over and over the director got a massive dose of Troll's Remorse and wished he never had added the scenes. Typically the edited versions remove all the animal deaths because the censors say it's A-OK to kill animals for "art films", but not in "exploitation films" like Cannibal Holocaust.
At the start of the film a coati is killed and cut open with a knife by the smart mofo leading the ballsy guy who finds the film. The critter's actual stomach (cooked and basted in tomato sauce) is fed to the boy. No word yet on if the cocaine they also gave him was real, but hey- it was shot in South America so anything's possible.
Once the jackasses get into the jungle they kill a large turtle, chop it's limbs and head off, and remove the shell. The excuse is to save rations and because it looks badass on camera. Also it lets the jackasses be stupid while holding a real dead turtle's head. Yay? A squirrel monkey was later killed for the same in-film reason. Oh, and they killed TWO monkeys during filming because the first take didn't come out just right.
One of the idiots doesn't remember to keep their boots stuffed and naturally finds their shoes are full of spiders in the morning. The tarantula that decided a boot was a good place to sleep is cut in half with a machete. The body is then used to tease Fae who screams like a girl because she is one, duh.
Because venomous snakes are freaking dangerous, the director decided that a small boa would be perfect to look scary instead. It's not like people can tell the difference between two snakes covered with mud or anything. The boa was framed for biting the guide, then killed with a machete.
While the jerkasses were rampaging in the villages they kicked then shot a pig. That pig was not a prop. It did make delicious bacon, though.
In short the film was frequently banned because it depicted people killing animals for self protection (in the film, anyway) or food (the real reason they died). How shocking.
Remember the part where people were supposed to be eating each other? Well, as it turns out the tribes in the film are all actual tribes that existed in the 1970's in the rainforest. They just were dramatized a little. By a little we mean "they made shit up and used unrelated tribes to pretend they were these actual tribes".
Naturally people got offended that the peaceful, noble natives of the jungle were being exploited by a film that turns them into savage cannibals and started saying the film was racist! The real irony is that if any of these people had actually watched the film it shows that the natives were just doing what any normal people would do to survive. It's the white people who were assholes which is actually racist against white film makers and not the native tribes. It should also be noted that the burning village scene was real. The director actually paid them to build some "burnable" huts and shoot their actual livestock. The safety of dozens of tribal members was jeopardized for this movie and they were paid mere peanuts as collateral. Nobody seems to talk about this fact, though, in favor of "Ehmagerd- Cannibals!"
Of course there also is the fact that by 70's standards the special effects were hyper realistic. I mean, they literally used casts from actual skeletons and draped them with rare steak and barbecued pork to get that "munching on a human" effect. This led to wild allegations that actual people were being eaten. The debate on this can be summed up in two words: lol, no.
It's a Snuff Film!
Sensationalism was all the rage in the 80's with the Christians busy trying to scare everyone away from as much stuff as possible so they could make more money in "donations" to the church. After all, every dollar spent watching movies was a dollar not in the pastor's pocket! People were already freaking out thinking that actual people were being eaten on camera, so the Christians took things to the next level to drum up more drama by saying that actual people were dying on screen. It didn't help that in order to make the film scarier the director decided to tell the actors shown in the film to lay low for a year or so in order to make them look like they were dead.
The idea that Cannibal Holocaust contained real human deaths spread like wildfire. Cannibal Holocaust was branded as a "snuff film" by the media and is currently the earliest known film to be called a snuff film. Actual court trials were held in which the director, film crew and others working on the project were being tried for murder. The still healthy and alive actors and actresses all came in to the court room and explained that the stuff you see in movies isn't real. Photographs were presented as evidence that the deaths could be safely faked and the impalement scene was re-enacted with fully clothed actors in the court room just to prove it. All charges were dropped, but the film was still widely banned.
Film makers took note of how the drama made Cannibal Holocaust more popular and notable than ever. In order to try to steal some notoriety for themselves various low budget horror films began to say they were based on "true stories" and that "everything you see on the screen is real." Some even went to places where people actually were dying, filmed it, then spliced the footage into otherwise fake films or into compilations for shock value. This created the "Faces of Death" genre where the entire film is basically just people dying or nearly dying.
It also inspired various sick fucks to kill and film their murders for real. A few modern examples include 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick and 3Guys1Hammer although dozens of other examples exist. By attempting to shut down a "scary" movie for profit the Christians inadvertently created a legacy of honest to god snuff films.
Cannibal Holocaust has inspired dozens of other cannibal movies. Some of them attempt to trick the viewer into thinking they are Cannibal Holocaust while others just happily ride the film's coat tails. The two most notable films are Cannibal Ferox and The Green Inferno.
Cannibal Ferrox is sometimes incorrectly called "Cannibal Holocaust 2". It was made just one year after Cannibal Holocaust was released. The two films are so intertwined in the collective memory that searching for information on Cannibal Holocaust will always turn up information on Cannibal Ferrox as well. Cannibal Ferrox is the story of some scientists who go to the jungle to prove that cannibalism is a myth. Once they get into the jungle they find that the natives have been enslaved by drug lords who use them to mine emeralds and produce cocaine. One of the drug lords stupidly kills a native in front of the entire tribe. Everyone, even the scientists, are eaten. Cannibal Ferrox is a splatter film with over the top violence and blood for shock value and is considered less realistic than Cannibal Holocaust in general. Despite this lack of realism Cannibal Ferrox is still widely banned by crybaby worldwide governments and widely praised by fans of the Cannibal film genre.
In 2015 some people who had seen Cannibal Holocaust decided to do a modern update to the film. This time we have prissy millennials who think that a hashtag can save the world instead of scientists or film makers. They decide to go to the rain forest in an effort to get Facebook brownie points and lengthen their e-peen by actually going to the rainforest instead of just tweeting about it. The Natives put up with them at first until one of them violates a tribal taboo resulting in every last one of them being eaten. Oddly, the Green Inferno didn't spark much controversy as the natives actually wanted to make the film for the lulz and had a blast doing it.
—Eli Roth, 2015 interview with Animal Magazine
Ruggero Deodato, the whimsical wop responsible for all of this, went on to have an illustrious career doing things like a Last House on the Left rip-off, a Friday the 13th rip-off, something about psycho bitches disposing of corpses in washing machines, and a cameo as "The Italian Cannibal" in Hostel: Part II by the aforementioned Eli Roth.
- A Serbian Film
- August Underground's Mordum
- Black Christmas
- Guinea Pig
- The Human Centipede
- Where The Dead Go To Die
- Faces of Death (film series)
- Cannibal Holocaust site
- Before ‘Green Inferno,’ There Was ‘Cannibal Holocaust’
- Cannibal Holocaust: 'Keep filming! Kill more people!'
- Fan's infopage
- Alamo drafthouse
- on TVTropes
- Fun Facts
Cannibal Holocaust is part of a series on
Visit the Media Portal for complete coverage.
|Featured article August 24 & 25 2016|
|Cannibal Holocaust||Succeeded by|