If you thought The Blair Witch Project put the shock in the found-footage genre, then think again because it’s actually Ruggero Deodato‘s Cannibal Holocaust that’s the true leader of the pack and remains the daddy of them all.
When Cannibal Holocaust originally spilled its entrails onto the big screen in 1980, it quickly earned the reputation as the most vile movie of all-time due to its graphic scenes of torture, rape and cannibalism and explicit shots of real-life animal slayings, resulting in it being banned in some 50 countries.
The story concerns four famous documentary filmmakers who disappear while filming indigenous tribes in the Amazon. Six months later, their footage is found by a New York anthropologist who fears the crew may have met a nasty fate at the hands of warring tribes. But when he views the footage, a much-more horrific tale is revealed as it’s the film-makers who are in fact the real ‘savages’.
Polarising audiences and critics on its release, Cannibal Holocaust quickly developed a huge cult following and has been available in one form or another ever since, but Shameless Screen Entertainment (those fine purveyors of cinema’s darkest entries) have now given it a glorious new transfusion (on Blu-ray and DVD) with the inclusion of an brand new edit, in which director Ruggero Deodato trims the sensation out of those controversial animal slaying scenes.
While films like recent indie-shockers Atrocious and The Tapes have used the found-footage technique with varied results, Cannibal Holocaust actually leaves these newbies for dust in the shockumentary stakes. And even with the animal cruelty scenes re-edited, it has lost none of its power to shock with its savage imagery and cutting social commentary that takes great swipes against western imperialism and sensational journalism.
But is it truly a ‘masterpiece of cinematographic realism’ as lauded by director Sergio Leone or just an exercise in gratuitous violence? Only you can judge. For me, however, its a powerful statement about the darkness that lies within us all as members of a modern society. It also boasts Riz Ortolani’s unforgettable score, which is a must have. And if you are a completist, like myself, then this Shameless release is the one to own.
Due to the film’s graphic nature, click here if you want to view the trailer.