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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) - Horror Cannibals

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) - Well that was not as half bad as it was billed. Cannibal Holocaust has been on my list as one of those infamous films so shocking that as a youth I was not allowed to see it. Then in adulthood never felt like a cannibal movie was something I wanted to see. In seeing it I have to say although there was some offensive scenes in it the film as a whole was not particularly shocking and fails to live up to its reputation. Mostly there are two things that make this film as shocking as it is. The first is the misogynistic abuse of women in the film, there are three scenes in particular that are horrible. One where a native man does a ceremonial rape (with sharpened branch) and killing of his adulterous wife. Then twice there are gang rapes and murder of women and some sort of abortion by natives which made no sense. All of these scenes are horrible and hard to sit through, and sickening to watch. The second gruesome set of scenes have to do with killing animals on camera, some south American rodent, a large turtle, a monkey and a piglet are all killed on screen. These scenes are not some sort of CGI but actual filmed killings. Really nasty stuff. All is to pull the viewer into a disgusted response to the film and all are effective for that purpose.

Then there is the two stories that these scenes take place. The film starts with scenes of the original four adventurers heading to the Amazon to get footage for a documentary about cannibal tribes, then we learn that they never came back and the film company hires Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman) an anthropologist to head down after them. So the first 40% of the film is Harold tracking the route of the younger group. When he finds their remains he manages to get the canisters of film they shot and heads back to NYC.

The film takes an interesting turn when he is back in the city. The documentary producers want him to review the film and help put together a documentary about it. He agrees but after viewing the film knows that the first group behaved totally unprofessionally in their interactions with the natives. He tries to convince the movie people that the film would not represent good documentary journalism because of the harsh violent behavior of the team. They argue that outrageous behavior will sell a ton of copies and that intellectual integrity should be balance with what sells. As this conversation continues we keep going back to the original footage of the group where they rape and more like conquistadors then anthropologists. When Harold seems to be losing the battle with the production company he brings the executives in for a screening of the most horrific footage.

The first group, Jack (Perry Pirkanen), Mark (Luca Barbareschi), and Alan (Carl Gabriel Yorke) terrorizes a native village burning raping and murdering. They shout their bravado to the camera about how superior they are. Then the final canister shows how the female of the group Faye Daniels (Francesca Ciardi) is gang raped and beaten tyo death with clubs and the men are mutilated and killed in turn by the vengeful villagers.

What is interesting to me that we have this film Cannibal Holocaust, that is famous for selling brutal images making an argument about how much is too much. Amazing how the thing that is discussed as going too far is indeed asking the question, it is so meta. Still I think the imagery was too much out of my own tastes for me to recommend it to anyone else. So let me answer the question how far is too far? This is.

Rating (4.1) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz system I would say SKIP IT!

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