Thursday, October 8, 2015

31 Horror Movies in 31 Days: Cannibal Holocaust

by Dan Moore

I love horror movies, so I'm watching one a day in October.  There's no rhyme or reason to the flicks I'm watching. Some I've never seen, some I have. Join the discussion on Twitter with #31Movies31Days  


Day Eight: Cannibal Holocaust 

This is the nicest poster I could find

Director: Ruggero Deodato
Starring: A buncha people you've never heard of nor care about.

A dumb American camera crew goes to the Amazon and disappears. Later on, an anthropologist leads a rescue group to try to find them. They meet the hostile, cannibalistic tribe, and retrieve the film the other Americans filmed. What follows is some of the most raw, exploitative, violent footage mine eyes have ever seen.

What can be said about this movie that hasn't already been said in the last 35 years? Easily the most despicable, disgusting film I've ever seen. It's a very strange movie. The narrative is set up in such an odd way, going back and forth from New York, as they explain about the expedition and discovery of the films, talking about the original film crew, moving onto the rescue efforts, and ultimately showing the snuff-style footage that was documented by the first crew. Interspersed between all this are appalling scenes of authentic looking tortures and death. The whole while, the strangely beautiful score by Riz Ortolan plays under scenes that get increasingly hard to watch. For example, look at this scene:

Have you read any of this? LOOK AWAY, YOU FOOL!

To say the film is over the top is an understatement. There are multiple rape scenes, they hand out bludgeonings like free candy, and they top it all off with actual animal slayings. I was appalled by this whole movie when I first saw it years ago, and even now it's a chore to view in its entirety. Yet...there is something about this movie that keeps you wanting to watch. There's no charm, no one to root for. But it's such a strange experiment, your eyes are glued to the screen. You want to see what happens. The tension keeps building. The fate of both crews does weigh on your mind. And of course you want to see how far this film will go. Yeah, I'm gross.

Part of the appeal comes from the legends of the movie itself. The fact that the real-life director was arrested for murder is amazing. People actually thought that this was a snuff film. Think about that. Millions of people thought this was real. It's the precursor to The Blair Witch Project, taken to a gut wrenching, vomit-inducing extreme. In the end, I can only guess what the movie was trying to say. I suppose it's supposed to show the contrast between what we believe to be civilized, as in us, against what we believe to be "savage" and how the opposite is actually true. But it said enough that I'll never forget it.

THE GOOD: The score is honestly awesome. There's plenty of creepiness but legit beautiful music played through out. Which adds to the weirdness

THE BAD: It's pretty racist. Dumb natives vs. smart white man.

THE DUMB: Seventies bush all over the place. And dicks. A lotta dicks. Like, everywhere. All in my eyes.

SHIT OR HIT: It's a hit...but don't watch it with someone you wanna do.  Cause they won't. Ever.

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