Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cannibal Holocaust - A Review

For those of you who have never seen or heard of this film. Let me give you some back ground. This is an Italian film released in 1980 to much controversy that follows it to this day. First off, this film is probably the most graphic film you'll ever see. At the time of its release the director was arrested on murder charges, that's how intense this film is. The four main actors had clauses in their contracts to not appear in the media for one year following the films release. That was voided to keep the director from standing trial for making a snuff film.

Plot Summary:
A noted anthropologist is sent to the Green Inferno, a deadly and unexplored of the Amazon to find the whereabouts of 4 film makers who disappeared. Through his journey he ends up following the same path taken by the filmmakers. With the help of his 2 guide he learns of two warring cannibalistic tribes the Yacumo and Yanomamo. The journey takes them to a village of Yanomamo where they discover a shrine made of the bones of the missing filmmakers. The professor does what he has to do to have them release the reels of film to tell what happened to the missing group.

The second half of the film shows us the journey the filmmakers take. It is apparent from the start of the footage that this group is very arrogant and will do what it takes to make it interesting. Through their footage we seem them burn a village, rape, murder and torment these "savages" that they encounter. This all culminates with the final reel showcasing their demise at the hands of the cannibals in the Green Inferno.

From a technical aspect, this is a beautiful film. The cinematography is some of the best coming from Italy's 70s era of filmmaking. The soundtrack is both romantic and traumatizing depending on what is occurring on the screen. This ranges from almost operatic to a very synthesized sound, the more grotesque the harsher the sound.

I wouldn't say the acting is great but the role of the professor is probably the best of the film. The actors who play the ill-fated film crew is at times, over played. Think of the Blair Witch Project but, in my opinion, more amateur actors. Its not that bad that it distracts from the film but it does add some realism to watching their footage.

The special effects are actually very good and very reminiscent of the work done in the 70s that laid the groundwork for the effects that came to us in the 80s. Probably the best example of the SFX is the implement of a young Yanomamo female on a pole at the edge of a creek (see the above poster). The actress is stark naked, seated on a bicycle seat atop of a pole. She is covered in gore and is holding a piece of wood in her mouth straight up in the sky to complete the illusion. To this day, I would rank this in my top 10 of greatest on screen effects.

Probably the part of the film that it is best known for is the actual killing of live animals on screen. If nothing this is the biggest turn off of this film for most people. I'm not one for blatant abuse of animals so this is a sticking point me in regards to the film. I understand and see what the director was going for but I feel that it could have gone about differently. We see a large snapping turtle dismembered and opened up for eating. A muskrat, small monkey, a snake and a pig are all killed on screen. If you can handle getting past this, the cannibalistic and full front nudity aspects you'll be sure to get through.

This film is not one you call your friends over for movie night on Saturday. If you watch this film be prepared that you probably won't finish it and if you do, you probably won't watch it again.

1 comment:

  1. A few years ago me and some friends tried to watch this while we were hanging out. We couldn't do it. It brought the fun, hang-out mood right down. I've seen this film several times (I was lucky enough to catch a screening in an actual theater) and it is never a fun film to watch. However, it is a POWERFUL film that leaves a lasting impression upon the viewer. And that, in itself, is an amazing accomplishment.