Review: Cannibal Holocaust (1980) (The Most Controversial Film of All Time?)

“Man is omnipotent; nothing is impossible for him”

Is Cannibal Holocaust the most controversial film of all time? That’s what it says on the sleeve of the Shameless Edition which I picked up last week. I thought shameless was a reference to the price: 18 pounds! But, I was willing to pay that steep price for something that would shock and disgust me. It takes a lot. Cannibal Holocaust ticks all the boxes for extreme horror: rape, genital mutilation, cannibalism, buckets of blood, disembowelments, real animal slaughters…it’s a film that you couldn’t get away with doing today. Ask Eli Roth: he tried with The Green Inferno, but that lacked any shock value (and was pretty dull as well). As is often the case, nothing could top the original Cannibal Holocaust. Yes, it’s probably the most controversial film of all time. But does that make it any good?

To be honest, I’m not sure. Merely by the halfway point of the film, Cannibal Holocaust had done more to shock me than most films. Every now and again, I like to watch an extreme horror film to wake me up from reality. The last film I remember turning my stomach like Cannibal Holocaust did is A Serbian Film (and that was the edited version of the latter film!). There is no respite from the horror on show with Cannibal Holocaust. When you think it can’t get any more deprived, it puts another gruesome display on show. Rape? There are several rape scenes. There’s genital mutilation, involving both a woman and a man. There’s cannibalism, of course, including a white man eating a liver offered to him by the natives. Heads are smashed in (unconvincingly, I may add), legs are cut off, bodies are ripped apart, and a few animals are slaughtered. Oh, there’s a forced abortion as well.

“You did it, goddamnit! They’ve just invited us to dinner!”

The turtle is the most sympathetic character in the entire film

Now, the animal slaughter deserves a paragraph of its own. Lest you forget that the animal slaughter actually happened. Yes, they hacked apart that turtle. Yes, they sliced the face off that squirrel monkey. Of all the horrific imagery in the film, I am still thinking about the elongated and close up hacking of the turtle. The people slice its limbs off, hack its lower shell off, and pulls its internal organs out. The female journalist steps to one side to throw up. I felt like doing that myself as I was eating my scrambled eggs and turkey bacon. Let’s face it, us meat eaters put animal slaughter to the back of our minds. But if we had to (for example) kill a cow ourselves for a piece of meat? I don’t think the majority of us would be able to do it.

But where was I…oh yeah. The legitimate animal slaughter lends proceedings a veil of reality. The story follows an anthropologist looking for a film crew who disappeared in the Amazon rainforest looking for indigenous cannibal tribes. After going through a horde of his own horrors, he finds out that they were killed. He also finds their film reels, and takes them back to America. Here he sees that they attempted to twist the narrative of the cannibal tribes to one they wanted to portray. If I were watching this without knowing anything about it, I could almost believe that the documentary footage was real. You can tell that the animal slaughter is legitimate, and for its time, the human slaughter looks legitimate most of the time (apart from whenever anyone’s head is bashed in. There’s lots of blood, but heads remain intact!).

The veil of reality is what draws you into Cannibal Holocaust. The director, Ruggero Deodato, was arrested because magistrates believed he had created a snuff film. It’s almost believable that you’re watching people be killed for real. However, it’s hard to be truly drawn in when the acting is horrendous. Yes, part of the appeal of the video nasties is that, on the whole, the acting is horrendous. It seems as if the casting director pulled random people off the street to participate. Sometimes it’s hard to see past the terrible acting, but there’s always some grotesque scenery waiting to distract you.

“I wonder who the real cannibals are”

I’ve seen better acting in a school pantomine than all four of these people combined

And what, exactly, is all the carnage about? There’s an overt message that screams in our face that we are the savages, and not the Native South American tribes. Yes, they indulge in cannibalism, rape and murder, but most of the white people shown are disgusting human beings. The film crew create their own narrative by savaging the native people. Of course, they are punished for it by gruesome deaths. But for supposedly civilised people, they act decidedly uncivilised. When the anthropologist returns home with the film reels, television executives want to broadcast it straight away, unedited. Blood and guts make money, in their opinion. People want to be shocked and disgusted.

Why else did I spend 18 quid on a film? I want to be desensitized, or see something truly shocking. I want something to push me over the edge. Of course, the makers of the film themselves are just as bad as the fictional film crew. They are the true exploiters. But did they have a message to convey, or did they simply want to disgust people? I reckon that the filmmakers did not have a message to convey. They just wanted to make money by grossing out people and pushing the boundaries of the film censors.

It’s hard to decide on a quality rating for Cannibal Holocaust. You can ascribe all the social commentary you want to the film, but it all feels like a flimsy pretext to plunge into people’s nightmares and show them something that will turn their stomach inside out. It’s a marathon of debauchery and depravity that pushes the limit for almost every minute of its duration. If you’re into video nasties, then you’ll have already seen it. If not, watch it right away and see how far you can go. If you’re not into video nasties, then obviously stay far away. For provoking a reaction, Cannibal Holocaust is one of the most viscerally affecting films I’ve seen. But the acting constantly threatened to make me burst out laughing.

VERDICT: 6/10. Yes, in my humble opinion, it ticks all the boxes for most controversial film of all time. You should only watch this film if you want to be heavily grossed out. But the acting is simply atrocious.

BUT: 0/10 if video nasties are not your sort of thing.

What did you think of  Cannibal Holocaust (1980)? Leave your thoughts/comments below!

Click here for my review of The Green Inferno (2013)

Click here for my review of I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

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Film Thoughts: Justice League: What Went Wrong?

In my humble opinion, Justice League was the disaster that the DCEU has been waiting to unleash upon us since Man of Steel was released four years ago. It is an awful film with few redeeming features. Even taking into consideration the reshoots and change of director, there’s no excuse for a film this terrible. But what went wrong? Could Justice League have been salvaged along the way? Or was it doomed to be bad? Oh, click here for my full review of Justice League! Continue reading

Review: Justice League (2017) (Justice Served?)

(SPOILER FREE)

“How many people have you really saved?”

Where do I even start with Justice League? I’ve put off writing this review since Friday because I simply don’t know if I even can be bothered to write about it. It seems Warner Bros couldn’t be bothered with Justice League. The film feels rushed, unfinished, and put together by a child. Even considering the change of directors earlier on in the year cannot excuse the mess that is Justice League. I was a defender of Batman v Superman because that dared to be different. Justice League is a sub-par copy of The Avengers, lacking Snyder’s distinct vision for the DCEU. Continue reading

HAMMY’S TOP 10…WORST THREEQUELS

Last week, I wrote a list of my Top 10 Best Threequels (click here to view my list!). In the light of equality, it’s only fair to do a list of Top 10 Worst Threequels, isn’t it? The Threequel usually has a tough act to follow, and in many cases leads to disappointment. Case in point: The Dark Knight Rises. It followed The Dark Knight, one of the most critically acclaimed movies in the past ten years. How could the threequel live up to the sequel? Answer: it didn’t. It left me deflated and wondering what I’d just watched. Of course, I’d hyped myself up beyond belief for Batman vs Bane (something I didn’t do for Batman vs The Joker Part 2), therefore it was almost inevitable that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. However, several rewatches have confirmed my initial belief that The Dark Knight Rises is simply a bore. That and nine others grace my Top 10 Worst Threequels… Continue reading

HAMMY’S TOP 10…BEST THREEQUELS

Thor: Ragnarok gives us the third cinematic helping of MCU’s Thor. Click here for my review, but basically I thought it’s proclivity for comedy made it a rather empty experience. But it got me to thinking…how many great third entries in a film franchise/trilogy are there? Most trilogies fail on the third outing: see The Godfather Part III, Spider-Man 3, X-Men III, Scream 3. In many cases, the second outing was so incredible that it’s hard for a follow up to live up to expectations (see: The Dark Knight Rises). Very good/great third entries in a film franchise/trilogy are a rarity, but here are My Top 10 Best Threequels! Continue reading

Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017) (Thor-Some?)

(SPOILER-FREE)

“I know what you’re thinking: how did this happen?”

Thor: Ragnarok is the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film to get a shedload of critical acclaim. I’ve seen it advertised on Twitter as the “best reviewed Marvel film yet.” Of course, whenever something receives high critical acclaim, my Spider-sense tingles. It’s true, Thor: Ragnarok is enjoyable. You’ll laugh yourself silly. But I felt a little nonplussed when the credits started to roll. The third Thor film has little in common with its predecessors. The tonal shift is jarring, the characters involved are used mainly for laughs, and the story seems to have been written on the fly… Continue reading

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL HAMMY’S TOP 10…HORROR FILMS

It’s Halloween today, the scariest day/night of the year (apart from Election Night…but that only comes every few years or so!). So it’s time to dress up like a dead person/ghoul/serial killer, go trick or treating, and watch a scary movie. What’s your favourite scary movie? Do you even like scary movies? I love scary movies! It takes a lot to scare me (apart from Election Night…and not doing the dishes/washing before my fiancée comes in from work!), but there are notable scary movies that have interrupted my sleep with terrifying nightmares. I know it’s all fake, but doesn’t that make it even scarier? With those thoughts in mind, here are my Top 10 Horror Movies! Continue reading

Review: Battle Royale (2001) (The Ultimate Japanese Film?)

“At the dawn of the millennium, the nation collapsed. At fifteen percent unemployment, ten million were out of work. 800,000 students boycotted school. The adults lost confidence and, fearing the youth, eventually passed the Millennium Educational Reform Act, AKA the BR Act….”

Thus begins one of my favourite Japanese films! Yes, Battle Royale! The DVD of Battle Royale was taken away from her by a me a couple of years ago, so I bought it off Amazon (cheap as chips!). With a few hours to spare last night, she watched it. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but oh boy, the quality has not dipped a bit! So let me tell you why I adore Battle Royale… Continue reading

‘Halloween Special’ Review: I Spit On Your Grave (1978) (A True Video Nasty?)

halloween

“You came to a nice place”

Halloween is approaching…so I sought out a true video nasty: the original ‘I Spit On Your Grave.’ Last night I settled down with some tomato soup and popped the DVD in the player…

The plot can easily be summed up: a New York lady (Jennifer) goes to the countryside, gets raped by several men, then in various acts of revenge kills them. And there isn’t much in between: the rape scenes take about forty-five minutes of the film up; the murders about forty minutes. So there is little room for exposition, character development, or any of those things necessary to weave a cohesive story. The lady is a novelist, retiring to the country for some inspiration. Of course, when people retire to the countryside, they get a lot closer to ‘nature’ than they intended to in horror films! The men are no-good hicks, referring to women as ‘chicks.’ According to one of them, city girls only come to the village to get laid. So that’s a perfect justification rape! One of them, Matthew, is a ‘retard’ (in their words). So, they are the main characters, and we don’t find out much more about them. Continue reading

HAMMY’S TOP 10…WORST FILMS OF ALL TIME!

Both Geostorm and The Snowman were released last week, to great critical disdain. I won’t be rushing out to see them; I usually leave awful films to watch on Netflix. I don’t want to be paying full cinema price for something that stinks! However, I’ve seen more than my fair share of awful films. I don’t actively seek these terrible films. Sometimes, you have to see darkness to appreciate the light. For without darkness, what is light? But I’ve got better things to spend my money on, quite frankly! It’s my principle never to walk out at the cinema, so no matter how awful the film is, I have to endure it. It got me to thinking…what are the worst films I’ve ever seen? I’ve probably missed out on some awful films, but here are my Top 10 Terrible Films!

As bad as everyone says? I might find out someday!

Continue reading