name = Cannibal Holocaust
caption = Theatrical poster
producer = Franco Di Nunzio Franco Palaggi
Robert Kerman Carl Gabriel Yorke Francesca Ciardi Perry Pirkanen Luca Barbareschi
cinematography = Sergio D'Offizi
editing = Vincenzo Tomassi
released = Italy:
February 7, 1980
October 19, 1980
April 22, 1981
June 19, 1984
runtime = 95 min
country = Italy
language = English / Spanish
budget = US$200,000 (estimated)
website = http://www.cannibalholocaust.net
amg_id = 1:132995
imdb_id = 0078935
"Cannibal Holocaust" (1980) is a controversial
exploitation filmdirected by Ruggero Deodatofrom a screenplay by Gianfranco Clerici. Filmed in the Amazon Rainforest, the movie tells the story of four documentarians who journey deep into the jungle to film indigenous tribes. Two months later, after they fail to return, famous anthropologist Harold Monroe travels on a rescue mission to find the group. Eventually, he recovers and views their lost cans of film, which reveal the missing filmmakers' fate. The film stars Robert Kermanas Monroe, Carl Gabriel Yorkeas director Alan Yates, Francesca Ciardias Alan's girlfriend Faye, Perry Pirkanenas cameraman Jack Anders, and Luca Barbareschias fellow cameraman Mark Tomaso.
"Cannibal Holocaust" is a well known exploitation film because of the controversy following its release. After premiering in Italy, the film was seized by a local magistrate, and Deodato was arrested on obscenity charges. He was later accused of making a
snuff filmbecause rumors claimed some actors were killed on camera. Although Deodato was later cleared, the film was banned in Italy, the UK, Australia, and several other countries due to graphic gore, sexual violence, and because six animals were killed on camera. Many nations have since revoked the ban; however, the film is still barred in several countries. This notoriety notwithstanding, some critics see "Cannibal Holocaust" as a social commentary about civilized society.cite web | url=http://www.savagecinema.com/cannibalholocaust.html | title=Savage Cinema | author=Carter, David | publisher=Savage Cinema | accessdate=2006-09-06]
There are two timelines in the film, one depicting Monroe's trip into the
jungleto determine the fate of the American explorers, and the other involving Monroe's subsequent viewing of the recovered films made by the missing explorers. Much of the film is the depiction of the recovered film's content, which functions similarly to a flashbackand grows increasingly disturbing as the film progresses.
The film begins with a television documentary about a missing film crew and its expedition into the
Amazon Rainforestto make a documentary about cannibal tribes. The crew consists of Alan Yates, the director; Faye Daniels, his girlfriend and script girl; and their two friends and cameramen, Jack Anders and Mark Tomaso. Professor Harold Monroe, a New York Universityanthropologist, volunteers to lead a rescue mission to find the team. He flies to the Amazon and meets Chaco and Miguel, two guides who will assist him in his mission. Due to a local military raid, the group has a hostage from a tribe called the Yacumo to help them negotiate with the natives. After a long trek through the jungle, they happen upon a Yacumo male raping and murdering his wife as a punishment for adultery. The group follows the lone Yacumo to a large clearing, where Miguel negotiates the release of their hostage if the Yacumo let them in their village.Upon arriving at the village, the rescue team is greeted with hostility. It is soon revealed that the last white men to visit the tribe, the missing film team, caused great unrest. Miguel quells the tribe's fears by giving the chief a switchbladeas a sign of good faith. The next day, the Yacumo leads the group to the edge of their territory, where two vicious cannibal tribes, the Yanomamoand Shamatari, are perpetually at war with each other. Monroe’s team follows a group of Shamatari warriors to a riverbank, where they save a smaller group of Yanomamo from certain death. As a token of gratitude, the group is invited to the Yanomamo village but, once there, they are again treated with hostility. In an attempt to gain their trust, Monroe bathes naked in a river, which a small group of Yanomamo women find amusing. They lead Monroe to a shrinemade out of the bones of the lost film team, confirming Monroe’s worst fears. Frustrated, Monroe confronts the tribe in their village and plays a tape recorder for them, which he is able to exchange for the footage that the missing film team shot.
Once Monroe is back in New York, the executives of the Pan American Broadcast Company inform him that they want Monroe to host their airing of the film team’s documentary. Monroe asserts that he will only do it if he views the film reels first. The executives agree and to introduce Monroe to the works of Alan Yates, they show him a short segment from one of the team's previous documentaries, "The Last Road to Hell". After viewing, a female executive tells him that the documentary was staged by Yates to acquire more exciting footage. Puzzled, Monroe continues on to view the footage recovered from the Amazon.The first film reel begins with the group embarking on their trek deep into the jungle, eventually making camp and slaughtering a turtle for food. The next day the group’s guide, Felipe, is bitten in the foot by a poisonous snake and, despite Jack cutting off his leg, Felipe dies. After burying him, the film team continues on to locate the Yacumo. They come across a small group of Yacumo in a clearing, where Jack shoots one in the leg so the group can follow him to the village at their leisure. As the projectionist changes reels, Monroe comments on his disapproval of the team's actions, stating they should have found other ways to introduce themselves to the tribe. The second reel then starts, showing the group’s arrival at the village, where they almost immediately round up the entire tribe into a large hut and burn it down in order to stage a scene for their documentary, in which the Yacumo were slaughtered by the Yanomamo. Monroe again expresses his concerns about the staged scenes and the unethical treatment of the natives, but his worries are ignored. He continues to view the reels the next day, in which the group films a pregnant Yacumo woman having her fetus forcibly removed.
At the station, Monroe expresses his disgust toward the executives' decision to still air the documentary. To change their minds, he volunteers to show them the unedited footage. The final two reels begin with the film team locating a young Yanomamo girl, whom the men gang rape as Faye tries to stop them. The projectionist changes to the final reel, which begins with the group arriving at the site where the same girl is impaled on a pole, claiming the natives killed her because of an “obscure sexual rite.” After the group moves on, the Yanomamo attack them in revenge for the girl’s death. Jack is impaled by a spear, but instead of attempting rescue, Alan shoots him so he and Mark can film the natives emasculating, dismembering, cooking, and eating his corpse. Afterwards, while the remaining three attempt escape, Faye is captured by the Yanomamo, and Alan insists that he and Mark try to save her. Mark films as Faye is gang-raped and beheaded, after which the cannibals locate the final two in their hiding spot. The camera drops to the ground, and Alan’s bloody, blank face falls in front of the lens as the reel ends. At first silent, the executives order the footage to be burned as Monroe leaves the station.
Production began in 1979, when Deodato was contacted by German
film producersabout making a film similar to " Ultimo mondo cannibale", also directed by Deodato. He accepted and immediately went in search of a producer, choosing his friend Francesco Palaggi. The two first flew to Colombia to scout for filming locations. Leticia was chosen as the principal filming location after Deodato met a Colombian documentary filmmaker at the airport in Bogotá, who suggested the town as a location ideal for filming. Other locations had been considered, specifically the locations where the film "Queimada" by Gillo Pontecorvowas shot, but Deodato rejected these locations due to lack of suitable rainforest. Leticia was only accessible by aircraftand, from there, the cast and crew had to travel by boat to reach the set. The locale presented many problems for the production, in particular the heat and sudden rain storms, which sporadically delayed filming.cite video | people = D'Offizi, Sergio (interviewee) | year = 2003 | title = In the Jungle: The Making of Cannibal Holocaust | medium = Documentary | location = Italy | publisher = Alan Young Pictures]
Filming began on June 4, 1979, but it was delayed shortly while awaiting the arrival of Yorke. [cite web | url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078935/business | title=Business Data for Cannibal Holocaust | publisher=Internet Movie Database | accessdate=2006-11-18] The scenes featuring the film team were shot first with handheld
16mmcameras in a cinéma véritéstyle, mimicking an observational documentary. After shooting with the film team was completed, Kerman flew down to film his scenes in the rainforest, and then to New York to film exterior shots in the city. The interior shots of New York were later filmed in a studio in Rome. Production on the film was delayed numerous times while filming in the Amazon. After the original actor to play Alan Yates dropped out, filming was halted for two weeks as new casting calls began and the crew awaited the arrival of Yorke from New York City. Also, during principal filming with Kerman, the father of the actor who played Miguel was murdered, and production was again halted as the actor flew back to Bogotáto attend his father's funeral.
Tensions on the set were high, due in part to the location and to the content of the film itself. Yorke describes the set as having "a level of cruelty unknown to me," while Kerman described Deodato as remorseless and uncaring. (He and Deodato got into long, drawn-out arguments every day of shooting, usually because of remarks made by Deodato.)cite interview |last=Kerman |first=Robert |subjectlink=Robert Kerman |interviewer=
Sage Stallone|cointerviewers= Bob Murawski|title=Cannibal Holocaust DVD Commentary |city=Tarrytown, New York |date=2000-11-12 |program=Cannibal Holocaust DVD Extras] One particular aspect that led to disagreement amongst the crew was the filming of the genuine animal killings. Kerman stormed off the set during the filming of the death of the coatimundi, and Yorke refused to partake in the shooting of the pig (which he was originally scripted to execute), leaving Luca Barbareschi to have to do it. The sound of the pig dying even caused him to botch a long monologue, and retakes were not an option because they had no access to any more pigs. Perry Pirkanen also cried after filming the "Turtle Scene". Other cast members who objected to the film's content include actress Francesca Ciardi, who did not want to bare her breasts during the sex scene between her and Carl Yorke. When she refused to comply with Deodato's direction, he dragged her off the set and screamed at her in Italian. She had earlier suggested that she and Yorke actually have sex in the jungle before filming, in order to relieve the tension of the upcoming scene. When Yorke declined, she grew upset with him, alienating him for the rest of the shoot.cite interview |last=Yorke |first=Carl Gabriel |subject=Carl Gabriel Yorke |interviewer= Sage Stallone|title=Alan Yates Uncovered |city=Palo Alto, California |date=2005-05-12 |program=Cannibal Holocaust DVD Extras]
The story of the film was conceived by Deodato while talking with his son about news programs concerning the terrorism of the
Red Brigades. Deodato noticed that the media focused on depicting the violent acts with little regard for journalistic integrity and also believed that the media staged certain news angles. The film team in "Cannibal Holocaust" represented the actions of the Italian media.
The script was written by long-time Italian horror screenwriter Gianfranco Clerici, who had collaborated with Deodato in his previous film, "Ultimo mondo cannibale". There are several changes in the film from Clerici's original screenplay, including characters' names, especially in the film crew. Clerici also had originally written several scenes that are lacking from the film's final cut, the most famous of which involved a group of Yanomamo cutting off the leg of a Shamatari warrior and feeding him to piranha in the river. Due to a malfunctioning underwater camera, however, and because the
piranhawere difficult to control, the scene was dropped and filming was never finished. Photographs taken during the scene's partial execution are the only known depiction of this scene in existence. As a result, the "Piranha Scene" is a popular topic amongst fans of the film.
Much of the cast of "Cannibal Holocaust" were inexperienced stage actors found at the
Actors Studioin New York City. The casting of Luca Barbareschi and Francesca Ciardi hinged on the fact that Deodato needed two Italian actors who also spoke English. Deodato had decided to make the film in English in order to appeal to a wider audience and to lend the film "credibility." At the time, however, it was necessary for a European film to have an official nationality to assure free circulation among European countries. Under Italian law, in order for "Cannibal Holocaust" to be recognized as an Italian film, Deodato needed at least two actors who spoke Italian as a native language to star in the movie.cite web |url=http://www.obs.coe.int/online_publication/reports/natfilm.html |title=Making and Distributing Films in Europe: the Problem of Nationality |author=Gyory, Michel |accessdate=2007-02-17]
Also at the Actors Studio, Deodato hired Perry Pirkanen and another actor who dropped out of the project minutes before leaving for the Amazon (though he appears in the film as an ex-colleague of Yates). To replace him, casting director Bill Williams contacted several other actors, including Carl Gabriel Yorke, who ultimately got the role. Yorke was chosen because all the costumes for the film had already been purchased, including size 10½ boots, the same size Yorke wore.cite interview |last=Yorke |first=Carl Gabriel |subject=Yorke, Carl Gabriel |interviewer=
Sage Stallone|title=Alan Yates Uncovered |city=Palo Alto, California |date=2005-05-12 |program=Cannibal Holocaust DVD Extras]
Robert Kerman had years of experience working in adult films under the pseudonym Richard Bolla before working in "Cannibal Holocaust", including the famous "
Debbie Does Dallas". Deodato contacted Kerman about playing Harold Monroe after he had been recommended to Deodato for his previous film, " The Concorde Affair", in which Kerman played an air traffic control man. Kerman also went on to star in the Italian cannibal films "Mangiati vivi!" and "Cannibal ferox", both directed by Umberto Lenzi. Kerman's girlfriend was cast as the female executive when the production needed an actress to be available in both New York City and Rome.
Film historian David Kerekes contends that the realism of the film is due to the direction and treatment of the film team’s recovered footage. Utilizing the cinéma vérité technique he learned from his mentor,
Roberto Rossellini, Deodato created "Cannibal Holocaust" incorporating a filming method which production designer Massimo Antonello Geleng calls “hyperrealistic.”cite video | people = Gelend, Antonio (interviewee) | year = 2003 | title = In the Jungle: The Making of Cannibal Holocaust | medium = Documentary | location = Italy | publisher = Alan Young Pictures]
David Carter of cult horror
webzine"Savage Cinema" says that the methods used by Deodato add a first-person quality to the film team’s footage, claiming, “The viewer feels as if they are there with the crew, experiencing the horrors with them.” Kerekes agrees by stating the "...shaky hand-held camerawork commands a certain realism, and "The Green Inferno", the ill-fated team's film-within-a-film here, is no exception," and later continues with, "...this very instability gives the 'Green Inferno' film its authentic quality." Deodato himself is proud of other aspects of the cinematography, namely the numerous moving shots using a standard, shoulder-mounted camera (that is, without the use of a steadicam).
The inclusion of animal slaughter and "The Last Road to Hell", which features footage of human executions, also adds a sense of reality to the film.cite book |last=Kerekes |first=David |coauthors= David Slater |title=Killing for Culture: Death Film from Mondo to Snuff |year=1996 |month=January |publisher=Creation Books |location=UK |isbn=1-871592-20-8]
Lloyd Kaufmanof Troma Entertainmentcompares the effect to Vsevolod Pudovkin’s theory of montage, stating, "In "Cannibal Holocaust", we see the actors kill and rip apart a giant sea turtle and other animals. The brain has been conditioned to accept that which it's now seeing as real. This mixture of real and staged violence, combined with the handheld camerawork and the rough, unedited quality of the second half of the movie, is certainly enough to convince someone that what they are watching is real." Deodato says he included the execution footage in "The Last Road to Hell" to draw similarities between "Cannibal Holocaust" and the Mondo filmmaking of Gualtiero Jacopetti.
"Cannibal Holocaust" premiered on February 7, 1980, in the Italian city of
Milan. Although the courts confiscated the film based on a citizen's complaint, the initial audience reaction was positive.cite interview |last=Deodato |first=Ruggero |subjectlink=Ruggero Deodato |interviewer= Sage Stallone| cointerviewers= Bob Murawski|title=Cult-Con 2000 |city=Tarrytown, New York |date=2000-11-12 |program=Cannibal Holocaust DVD Commentary] After seeing the film, director Sergio Leonewrote a letter to Deodato, which stated, [translated] "Dear Ruggero, what a movie! The second part is a masterpiece of cinematographic realism, but everything seems so real that I think you will get in trouble with all the world." [cite web | url=http://www.fringeunderground.com/snuff.html | title=Final Cuts: The History of Snuff Films |author=Smith, Geof | publisher=Fringe Underground | accessdate=2007-02-15] In the ten days before it was seized, the film had grossed approximately $2 million.
Critics remain split on their stances of "Cannibal Holocaust". Supporters of the film cite it as serious and well-made
social commentaryon the modern world. Mike Bracken called it one of the greatest horror movies ever filmed, and also stated, "Viewers looking for a film that's powerful, visceral, and disturbing have a new title to add to their must-see list." [cite web |url=http://www.flipsidemovies.com/cannibalholocaust.html | title=Cannibal Holocaust | author=Bracken, Mike | publisher=Flipside Movie Emporium | accessdate=2007-02-15] Sean Axmaker praised the structure and set up of the film, saying, "It's a weird movie with an awkward narrative, which Deodato makes all the more effective with his grimy sheen of documentary realism, while Riz Ortolani's unsettlingly lovely, elegiac score provides a weird undercurrent." [cite web |url=http://www.staticmultimedia.com/content/film/features/feature_1134529705 |title=Digital Delirium | author=Axmaker, Sean |publisher=Super Unleaded Design, Inc. |accessdate=2007-02-15] Jason Buchanan of Allmoviesaid, "...while it's hard to defend the director for some of the truly repugnant images with which he has chosen to convey his message, there is indeed an underlying point to the film, if one is able to look beyond the sometimes unwatchable images that assault the viewer." [cite web |url=http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:132995~T1 | title=Cannibal Holocaust > Review | author=Buchanan, Jason |publisher=Allmovie | accessdate=2007-02-16]
Detractors, however, counter with the genuine animal slayings, questionable acting, and
hypocrisythat the film presents. Nick Schager criticized the brutality of the film, saying, "As clearly elucidated by its shocking gruesomeness – as well as its unabashedly racist portrait of indigenous folks it purports to sympathize with – the actual savages involved with "Cannibal Holocaust" are the ones behind the camera." Schager's racism argument is supported by the fact that the real indigenous peoples in Brazil whose names were used in the movie – the Yanomamoand Shamatari– are not fierce enemies as portrayed in the movie, nor is either tribe truly cannibalistic (although the Yanomamo do partake in a form of post-mortem ritual cannibalism). [cite book |last=Chagnon |first=Napoleon A. |authorlink=Napoleon Chagnon |editor=George and Louise Spindler |title=Yanomamö |origyear=1968 |edition=5th edition |date=1996-11-15 |publisher=Wadsworth Publishing |location=Fort Worth, Texas |isbn=0-15-505327-2]
Robert Firsching of Allmovie made similar criticisms of the film's content, saying, "While the film is undoubtedly gruesome enough to satisfy fans, its mixture of nauseating mondo animal slaughter, repulsive sexual violence, and pie-faced attempts at socially conscious moralizing make it rather distasteful morally as well."cite web |url=http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:132995 |title=Cannibal Holocaust > Overview |author=Firsching, Robert |publisher=
Allmovie|accessdate=2007-02-16] Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson said it is "...artful enough to demand serious critical consideration, yet foul enough to christen you a pervert for even bothering." [cite web |url=http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/film_review.asp?ID=1848 |title=Film Review:Cannibal Holocaust |author=Henderson, Eric |publisher=Slant Magazine |accessdate=2007-02-15] "Cannibal Holocaust" currently has a 57% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 4.7. [cite web | url=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cannibal_holocaust/?critic=columns | title=Cannibal Holocaust |publisher=IGN Entertainment |accessdate=2007-02-15] The film came 8th on IGN's Top 10 Grindhouse films. [cite web | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/778/778253p1.html | title=IGN Top 10 Grind House Films |publisher=IGN Entertainment |accessdate=2007-04-05]
"Cannibal Holocaust" is seen by some as social commentary on various aspects of modern civilization, comparing "civilized" Western society to that of the cannibals. David Carter says, "Cannibal Holocaust" is not merely focused on the societal taboo of flesh eating. The greater theme of the film is the difference between the civilized and the uncivilized. Though the graphic violence can be hard for most to stomach, the most disturbing aspect of the film is what Deodato is saying about modern society. The film asks the questions 'What is it to be 'civilized'?' and 'Is it a good thing?'" Mark Goodall, author of "Sweet & Savage: The World Through the Shockumentary Film Lens", also contends the film's message is "...the rape of the natural world by the unnatural; the exploitation of 'primitive' cultures for western entertainment."
Deodato's intentions regarding the Italian media coverage of the Red Brigades have also fallen under critical examination and has been expanded to include all
sensationalism. Carter explores this, claiming that " [The lack of journalistic integrity] is shown through the interaction between Professor Monroe and the news agency that had backed the documentary crew. They continually push Monroe to finish editing the footage because blood and guts equal ratings."cite web | url=http://www.savagecinema.com/cannibalholocaust.html | title=Savage Cinema | author=David Carter | publisher=Savage Cinema | accessdate=2006-09-06] Director Lloyd Kaufman claims that this form of exploitative journalism can still be seen in the media today and in programming such as reality television.
Despite these interpretations, Deodato has said in interviews that he had no intentions in "Cannibal Holocaust" but to make a film about cannibals.cite web | url=http://www.troma.com/lk/eatenalive_review/ | title=Troma Entertainment | author=Kaufman, Lloyd | publisher=Troma Entertainment | accessdate=2006-09-06] Actor
Luca Barbareschiasserts this as well and believes that Deodato only uses his films to "put on a show".cite video | people = Barbareschi, Luca (interviewee) | year = 2003 | title = In the Jungle: The Making of Cannibal Holocaust | medium = Documentary | location = Italy | publisher = Alan Young Pictures] Robert Kerman contradicts these assertions, however, stating that Deodato did tell him of political concerns involving the media in the making of this film.cite interview |last=Kerman |first=Robert |subjectlink=Robert Kerman |interviewer= Sage Stallone|cointerviewers= Bob Murawski|title=Robert Kerman Exposed |city=Tarrytown, New York |date=2000-11-15 |program=Cannibal Holocaust DVD Extras]
These interpretations have also been criticized as being hypocritical and poor justification for the film's content, as "Cannibal Holocaust" itself is highly sensationalized. Firsching claims that, "The fact that the film's sole spokesperson for the anti-exploitation perspective is played by porno star [Robert Kerman] should give an indication of where its sympathies lie,"cite web |url=http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:132995 |title=Cannibal Holocaust > Overview |author=Firsching, Robert |publisher=
Allmovie|accessdate=2007-02-16] while Schager says Deodato is "pathetically justifying the unrepentant carnage by posthumously damning his eaten filmmaker protagonists with a 'who are the real monsters – the cannibals or us?' anti-imperialism morale."cite web |url=http://www.nickschager.com/nsfp/2005/08/cannibal_holoca.html | title=The Nick Schager Film Project: Cannibal Holocaust | author=Schager, Nick |publisher=Nick Schager Film Project |accessdate=2007-02-15]
Infobox movie certificates
United_States = Not Rated
United_Kingdom = 18 (cut)
Australia = R18+
Canada (Quebec) = 16+ (cut)
Germany = 18
Malaysia = Banned
New_Zealand = Banned
Singapore = Banned
Denmark = 15
Finland = K-18
France = -18
Hungary = 18
Ireland = 18
Netherlands = 16
Norway = 18
Sweden = 15
Iceland = Banned
Philippines = Banned
South_Africa = 18
South_Korea = 18
Italy = VM18Since its original release, "Cannibal Holocaust" has been the target of censorship by moral and animal activists. Other than graphic gore, the film contains several scenes of sexual violence and genuine
cruelty to animals, issues which find "Cannibal Holocaust" in the midst of controversy to this day; in 2006, " Entertainment Weekly" magazine named "Cannibal Holocaust" as the 20th most controversial film of all-time. [cite web | url=http://www.ew.com/ew/article/commentary/0,6115,1202623_1%7C%7C233612%7C1_0_,00.html | title=The 25 Most Controversial Films of All-Time | publisher=Entertainment Weekly | accessdate=2006-09-14] It has also been claimed that "Cannibal Holocaust" is banned in over 50 countries, [cite DVD-notes |title=Cannibal Holocaust 25th Anniversary Edition |titleyear=1980 |director= Ruggero Deodato|format=back cover |publisher= VIPCO (Video Instant Picture Company)|location=UK |publisherid=VIP666SE |year=2004] though this has never been verified.
Original Italian controversy
The original controversy surrounding the film's release was the belief that "Cannibal Holocaust" was an actual
snuff film, or that the actors were murdered in order to film their deaths for the movie. The film was confiscated ten days after premiering in Milan and Deodato was arrested. The courts believed not only that the four actors portraying the missing film crew were killed for the camera, but that the actress in the impalement scene was actually skewered in such a manner. To make matters worse for Deodato, the actors had signed contracts with him and the producers ensuring that they would not appear in any type of media, motion pictures or commercials for one year after the film's release in order to promote the idea that the film was truly the recovered footage of missing documentarians. Thus, when Deodato claimed that he had not killed the group, questions arose as to why the actors were in no other media if they were alive.
Eventually, Deodato was able to prove that the violence was staged. He contacted Luca Barbareschi and told him to gather the other three actors. After voiding the contracts in order to avoid life in prison, Deodato brought the foursome onto the set of an Italian television show, which satisfied the courts. He still faced the challenge, however, of proving that the impalement scene was merely special effects. In court, he explained how the effect was achieved: a bicycle seat was attached to the end of an iron pole, upon which the actress sat. She then took a short length of
balsawood and held it in her mouth and looked skyward, thus making it look like she had been impaled. Deodato also provided pictures of the girl interacting with the crew after the scene had been filmed. After being presented with this evidence, the courts dropped all murder charges against Deodato.
Despite Deodato being exonerated for murder, the courts still wished to ban the film because of its extreme nature. The decision was made to ban "Cannibal Holocaust" because of the genuine animal slayings, citing animal cruelty laws. Due to this ruling, Deodato, the producers, screenwriter, and the
United Artistsrepresentative each received a four-month suspended sentence after being convicted of obscenity and violence. Deodato spent three additional years fighting in the courts to get his film unbanned. Finally, in 1984, the courts ruled in favor of Deodato, and "Cannibal Holocaust" was granted a rating certificate of VM18 for a cut print (it would later be re-released uncut).cite video | people = Ruggero Deodato (interviewee) | year = 2003 | title = In the Jungle: The Making of Cannibal Holocaust | medium = Documentary | location = Italy | publisher = Alan Young Pictures]
Despite success in Italy, "Cannibal Holocaust" faced further censorship issues in countries around the world. In 1981, "Cannibal Holocaust" was released straight to video in the UK, thus circumventing the possible banning of the film by the
British Board of Film Classification(BBFC). In 1983, the Department of Public Prosecutionscompiled a list of 74 video releases that were not brought before the BBFC for certification and declared them prosecutable for obscenity. This list of "video nasties" included "Cannibal Holocaust", which was successfully prosecuted and banned. The film was also banned in Australia, Norway, Finland, New Zealand and several other countries in 1984,cite web | url=http://www.refused-classification.com/Films_C.htm#cannibalholocaust | title=Films C | publisher=Refused-Classification.com | accessdate=2007-01-15] [cite web | url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078935/ | title=Cannibal Holocaust (1980) | publisher=IMDb | accessdate=2007-01-13] although most of these countries have since lifted the ban. In 2001, the BBFC passed "Cannibal Holocaust" with an 18 certificate after extensive cuts to remove all animal cruelty and eroticized sexual violence, thus putting an end to the 18 year ban.cite web | url=http://www.bbfc.co.uk/website/Classified.nsf/0/743096A8C9525D8B80256A920036AE7B?OpenDocument | title=Cannibal Holocaust rated 18 by the BBFC | publisher=British Board of Film Classification | accessdate=2006-09-11] In order to comply with censorship laws, however, any version of "Cannibal Holocaust" that does not include these cuts is still banned in the UK. In 2005, the Office of Film and Literature Classification in Australia also revoked the ban, passing "Cannibal Holocaust" with an R18+ rating for the uncut print. In 2006, however, the film was banned in its entirety by the OFLC in New Zealand. Cuts to retain an R18 classification were offered by the Office, but they were eventually declined, and the film was banned.cite web |url=http://www.refused-classification.com/Films_C.htm#cannibalholocaust | title=Films C | publisher=Refused-Classification.com | accessdate=2007-01-15]
Many of the censorship issues with "Cannibal Holocaust" concern the on-screen killings of animals, which remains a major issue today. Seven animals were killed during the film's production, six of which are seen on screen:ref|monkey
coatimundi(mistaken as a muskratin the film) is stabbed multiple times in the neck by an actor.
turtle(about three feet long) is captured in the water and dragged to shore, where it is then decapitated and its limbs and shell removed. The actors proceed to cook and eat the turtle.
spideris killed with a machete.
snakeis killed with a machete.
*A squirrel monkey has its face cut off with a machete.
pigis kicked and then shot with a rifle.
Many condemn this as animal cruelty for the purpose of mere sensationalism and only to attract controversy, and it has also been called "animal
torture." Deodato himself has condemned his past actions,cite interview |last=Deodato |first=Ruggero |subjectlink=Ruggero Deodato |interviewer= Sage Stallone| cointerviewers= Bob Murawski|title=Cult-Con 2000 |city=Tarrytown, New York |date=2000-11-12 |program=Cannibal Holocaust DVD Extras] saying "it was stupid to introduce animals."
While in the movie it appears that only six animals are killed, the scene depicting the monkey's death was shot twice, resulting in the death of two monkeys. Both of the animals were eaten by indigenous cast members (who consider monkey brains a delicacy).cite interview |last=Yorke |first=Carl Gabriel |subject=Yorke, Carl Gabriel |interviewer=
Sage Stallone|title=Alan Yates Uncovered |city=Palo Alto, California |date=2005-05-12 |program=Cannibal Holocaust DVD Extras]
Deodato drew influence from the works of Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi, documentary filmmakers of whom Deodato was a fan. Prosperi and Jacopetti produced several Mondo films, which are documentaries similar to the one made in "Cannibal Holocaust". These documentaries focused on sensationalistic and graphic content from around the world, including bizarre local customs, death, and general cruelty. Deodato followed suit in ways of similar content, such as graphic violence and animal slayings. Although fictional, Deodato created a similar exposé of worldly violence, such as Prosperi's and Jacopetti's "
Mondo cane".cite video | people = Ortolani, Riz (interviewee) | year = 2003 | title = In the Jungle: The Making of Cannibal Holocaust | medium = Documentary | location = Italy | publisher = Alan Young Pictures]
Certain scenes in "Cannibal Holocaust" have been noted as being similar to scenes in Antonio Climati's Mondo film "
Savana violenta", specifically the scene involving Monroe bathing naked in the river and the scene of the forced abortion rite. Also, the cinéma vérité style used heavily in "Cannibal Holocaust" was used before in Climati's first Mondo film, " Ultime grida dalla savana", in a scene where a tourist is attacked and killed by a pride of lions. Another scene, in which a native man is captured, tortured, and murdered by mercenaries in South America, uses a similar filming style, and both scenes may have been influential on Deodato's direction. Mark Goodall, author of "Sweet & Savage: The World Through the Documentary Film Lens", and David Slater and David Kerekes, authors of "Killing for Culture: An Illustrated History of Death Film from Mondo to Snuff", have also suggested that Deodato was attempting to critique the documentary works of Climati with his film.cite book |last=Goodall |first=Mark |title=Sweet and Savage: The World Through the Shockumentary Film Lens |year=2006 |publisher=Headpress |location= London, UK |isbn=1-900486-49-0] [cite book |last=Kerekes |first=David |coauthors= David Slater |title=Killing for Culture: Death Film from Mondo to Snuff |year=1996 |month=January |publisher=Creation Books |location=UK |isbn=1-871592-20-8]
"Cannibal Holocaust" was innovative in its plot structure, specifically with the concept of the "found footage" being brought back to civilization and later viewed to determine the fate of the crew that shot it. Later films, such as "The Last Broadcast" and "
The Blair Witch Project", use similar plot structures. Each film uses the idea of a lost film team making a documentary in the wilderness, and their footage returned. Also, like "Cannibal Holocaust", advertisements for "The Blair Witch Project" promoted the idea that the footage is genuine. [cite web | last = Klein | first =Joshua| title = Interview - The Blair Witch Project | work = avclub.com | date = 1999-07-22| url = http://www.avclub.com/content/node/22980| accessdate = 2007-01-16 ] Deodato has acknowledged the similarities between his film and "The Blair Witch Project" and, though he holds no malice against the producers, he is frustrated at the publicity that "The Blair Witch Project" received for being an original production.cite video | people = Deodato, Ruggero (interviewee) | year = 2003 | title = In the Jungle: The Making of Cannibal Holocaust | medium = Documentary | location = Italy | publisher = Alan Young Pictures] The producers of "The Last Broadcast" have denied that "Cannibal Holocaust" was a major influence. [cite interview |last=Weiler | first=Lance | interviewer=Guido Henkel |title=The Facts About The Last Broadcast |date=1999-12-09]
"Cannibal Holocaust" bears similarities to other cannibal films made during the same time period, notably "Cannibal ferox". Though "Cannibal ferox" director
Umberto Lenzihas not acknowledged any influence, star Giovanni Lombardo Radicesays "Cannibal ferox" was made based on the success of "Cannibal Holocaust." [cite interview |last=Radice |first=Giovanni Lombardo |subjectlink=Giovanni Lombardo Radice |interviewer=Sage Stallone |cointerviewers=Bob Murawski|program=Cannibal Ferox DVD Commentary] "Cannibal Holocaust" also spawned numerous and similar unofficial sequels, some with scenes mirrored from the original.
filename = Cannibal_Holocaust_(Main_Theme)_-_Riz_Ortolani.ogg
title = "Cannibal Holocaust (Main Theme)"
description = The main theme to Cannibal Holocaust that plays over the opening credits is a gentler and more flowing piece of music compared to the harsher synthesizer scores used in most of the film.The soundtrack is entirely composed by Italian
Riz Ortolani, who Deodato specifically requested because of Ortolani's work in "Mondo Cane". The music itself is a variety of styles, from a gentle melody in the "Main Theme", to a sad and flowing score in "Crucified Woman", and even faster and more upbeat tracks in "Cameraman's Recreation", "Relaxing in the Savannah", and "Drinking Coco". The instrumentals are equally mixed, ranging from full orchestras to electronics and synthesizers. [cite web | url=http://www.moviegrooves.com/shop/cannibalholocaustsoundtrack.htm | title=Cannibal Holocaust soundtrack | publisher=Movie Grooves | accessdate=2007-02-13] The original soundtrack release was a limited release of 1,000 copies in Germany in 1995, on the Lucertola Media label. [cite web | url=http://www.soundtrackcollector.com/catalog/soundtrackdetail.php?movieid=8474 | title=Soundtrack Details: Cannibal Holocaust | publisher=SoundtrackCollector.com | accessdate=2007-01-14] In August 2005, the soundtrack was released again, this time in the United States, on the Coffin Records label. [cite web | url=http://www.moviegrooves.com/shop/cannibalholocaustsoundtrack.htm | title=Cannibal Holocaust soundtrack | publisher=Movie Grooves | accessdate=2007-02-13]
#"Cannibal Holocaust (Main Theme)"
#"Massacre of the Troupe"
#"Love with Fun"
#"Relaxing in the Savannah"
#"Cannibal Holocaust (End Titles)"
Releases and sequels
With such extensive controversy, there are many different versions of "Cannibal Holocaust" in circulation, some unedited and others substantially edited. Most "uncut" releases are actually missing around five to ten seconds of film material from the "Last Road to Hell" segment of the film, which includes real documentary execution footage. These few seconds are missing as a result of the master film negatives being damaged during the original film-to-DVD transfer. It is estimated that there are only five legitimate uncut releases of "Cannibal Holocaust", including the missing footage of the "Last Road to Hell" sequence as a supplement. These releases are:cite web | url=http://www.dvdcompare.net/comparisons/film.php?fid=1709 | title=The Home of DVD Comparisons | publisher=The Rewind Network | accessdate=2007-01-15]
*The 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition (Limited Edition out of 11,111 copies. US release by Grindhouse Releasing).
*The Grindhouse Releasing Deluxe Edition (Non-limited US release by Grindhouse Releasing)
*The Deluxe Collector's Edition (Australian release by Siren Visual Entertainment)
*The Ultrabit Collector's Edition (Limited Edition out of 4,000 copies. Dutch release by EC Entertainment)
*Another World Entertainment Special Edition (Scandinavian release)The Australian release is an identical copy of the US release, but has been renamed the "Deluxe Collector's Edition". Both releases include the intact version of "The Last Road to Hell" as a special feature on the first disc. The EC entertainment Ultrabit Collector's Edition and the Another World Entertainment release are the only two releases that include the intact sequence within the feature. Another common release is the 25th Anniversary Edition released in the UK by Video Instant Picture Company (VIPCO), which is heavily cut to comply with BBFC editing and runs at a
PALformat running time of 86 minutes.cite web | url=http://www.bbfc.co.uk/website/Classified.nsf/0/743096A8C9525D8B80256A920036AE7B?OpenDocument | title=CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST rated 18 by the BBFC | publisher=British Board of Film Classification | accessdate=2006-09-11]
Although no official sequel has been released, several films have adopted the moniker "Cannibal Holocaust II" as to be associated with "Cannibal Holocaust's" notoriety. These films were originally released under different titles that were then changed for various releases, although none have been directed by or associated with Deodato. The first of said films came in 1985 with Mario Gariazzo's "Schiave bianche: violenza en Amazzonia". Known in English as "Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story", it has also been released on European DVD as "Cannibal Holocaust 2: The Catherine Miles Story". In 1988, Mondo
film directorAntonio Climati made his film " Natura contro", which was released as "Cannibal Holocaust II" in Thailandand the UK. Italian director Bruno Matteialso made two straight-to-video films back to back in 2003, which have been released as "Cannibal Holocaust" sequels in Japan.cite web | url=http://www.dvdaf.com/search.html?has=Cannibal+Holocaust&init_form=str0_0_has_Cannibal+Holocaust | title=DVD Aficionado | publisher=Saudakar Corporation | accessdate=2008-03-10]
In 2005, Ruggero Deodato officially announced that he planned to make a companion piece to "Cannibal Holocaust".cite web | url=http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/4101 | title=Pointless Cannibal Holocaust Sequel in the Works | publisher=Fangoria | accessdate=2007-01-13] Deodato was hesitant about directing his new film, thinking that he would make it too violent for American audiences. While in Prague filming his cameo appearance in "", however, Deodato received the chance to view the original "Hostel" and decided that he would direct after all, citing "Hostel" as a similarly violent film that made a mainstream release in America.cite web |url=http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/7578 |title=Ruggero Deodato Talks 'Cannibal Holocaust 2' |publisher=Bloody-Disgusting.com |accessdate=2007-01-14] Although the screenplay, written by Christine Conradt, has been completed, a conflict between Deodato and the film's producer has delayed filming, which was scheduled to begin September 2008. [cite web |url=http://www.dreadcentral.com/story/ruggero-cannibals-natas |title=Ruggero on Cannibals, Natas |publisher=Dread Central Media, LCC |accessdate=2008-09-29] [cite web |url=http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/12685 |title=Deodato Holds New 'Holocaust' Hostage? |publisher=Bloody-Disgusting LCC | accessdate=2008-09-29]
* [http://cannibalholocaust.net/ Official site]
* [http://www.sexgoremutants.co.uk/spot10.html Interview with exploitation film distributor Bob Murawski] of
* [http://www.freewebs.com/cannibalfilmfanatics.htm Web-source providing information strictly on the topic of the cannibal film] of
Cannibal Film Fanatics
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