Cannibal Holocaust

10/18/2017 18:58

Film: Cannibal Holocaust

Year: 1980

Director: Ruggero Deodato

Writer: Gianfranco Clerici

Starring: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi and Perry Pirkanen



This film begins with overhead shots of South America, with a laid back song playing over top of it. When then learn that a group of filmmakers went to the Amazon to film a documentary about cannibal tribes that live there. They have not been heard from and an expedition is being sent to see if they can be found. It is to be headed up by Robert Kerman.

We then get images of military men as they come upon some natives that are eating human remains. They shoot at them and capture one. This prisoner will be used to get in with a tribe. Kerman is teamed with Salvatore Basile and Ricardo Fuentes. They venture into the rain forest.

The prisoner is used to get in with a tribe of natives. Kerman realizes that a couple of them are wearing things that belonged to the missing group. They do befriend each other and see their way of life. It is brutal though when a woman is punished for adultery with a rock until she is killed.

This group ventures even farther in, coming upon one of the cannibal tribes. They are able to befriend them and involved in their rituals. They end up finding the remains of the missing documentary crew. They are not able to take them down, but with a voice recorder, they do convince the tribe to allow Kerman to bring back the reels of film.

Along with the television executives, played by Paolo Paoloni and Lionello Pio di Savoia, they start to go through it. The idea is to show this on television to get massive ratings. It is pointed out that the missing crew, who is led by Carl Gabriel Yorke, used to stage some of their footage. Along with him is his girlfriend, played by Francesca Ciardi. The rest of the crew is Perry Pirkanen and Luca Barbareschi.

As they go through it, Kerman starts to see why the tribes they encounter were hostile toward them in the beginning and why the documentary crew was murdered. Will this footage be shown on television or will the executives decide what they see is too horrible? What is wrong with Yorke and his crew? Who really is the monster here?

I will say that I first saw this film in college. One of my roommates at the time was watching films from a list, got it from the library and he knowing that even back then I was a film buff, asked if I wanted to watch it. He warned me it was graphic and I heard about the film for the first time around then as well. I watched it and it literally changed my life. It was one of the most graphic films I had seen at that time and even to this day.

Now after my second watching, I do feel that it wasn’t as bad as I originally thought it was. It is still quite graphic. There are multiple scenes of simulated rape that made me feel uncomfortable. I still don’t like seeing the animals get killed on camera, but it did make me feel better knowing that the villagers they used in the film actually ate them. I also didn’t remember from my original viewing that this film actually has a good story and an allegory about human nature. We originally believe that the crew was murdered by savages. As the film goes on, this line gets blurred and makes you question who is the monster here, the civilized or the uncivilized. The film does a great job at making you question both sides.

The acting seems amateurish, but I really like that about it. This film is found footage so we have people that aren’t necessarily supposed to be on camera. The documentary film crew seemed real and if you didn’t tell this was fictional account, I could see you questioning whether or not it was real. I mean it even went to courts over the authenticity of the film. The natives were all real and just being themselves, even though they aren’t cannibals and according to information I’ve heard, there are no tribes like this in South America.

For this film, the score is amazing. There are scenes that are showing some stomach turning film, but they will have this tranquil song they play throughout the film being used. It gives the scene and even more unsettling feeling in that it almost is pushing that this is normal. They also have another song that is used a lot that is very creepy sounding. I’m a huge fan of the soundtrack to this film. Next I have to talk about the effects. This going back to what I said above, the effects were all practical and looked so real that the director, Ruggero Deodato was brought to court thinking that he killed the actors. That is absolutely amazing to me. They did kill real animals, which bothered me, but Deodato did go all out. The final thing to touch on here is the editing of the film. I liked that they intercut images of the documentary footage with Kerman talking to the executives. It breaks it up, gives you a chance to breath before plunging back in.

Now with that said, I would only recommend this film if you can stomach it. The film is very violent and graphic by nature. There is a cut you can watch where the animals’ deaths are taken out, but that doesn’t take out the gore or realism of the other scenes. The acting seems amateur, but that makes the film seem even more real. The score to the film is great and makes the scenes at times. The effects are amazing. The editing is also very well done. The film does make you think about human nature and the things that we do. This is an excellent film in my book, but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone.


My Rating: 9 out of 10