Banned and heavily cencored the world over, here is a film that surpasses
its reputation as a shot-gun blast to the senses. Cannibal Holocaust presents
the "found footage" of a group of four documentary filmmakers who experience
brutal death at the hands of a savage South American tribe of flesh-eaters.
This footage is so intense, so graphic and so unflinching in its realism
that the director and producer of Cannibal Holocaust were arrested upon
its original release and the film seized.
Nothing you have seen before will prepare you for this uncompromising masterpiece
of cinematic nihilism.
good Lord! It's unbelievable. It's horrible. I can't understand
the reason for such cruelty. It probably has something
to do with some bizarre sexual rage with the almost
profound respect these primitives have for virginity."
- Alan Yates
WARNING: CONTAINS ANIMAL CRUELTY & SPOILERS…
What is there to be said about Cannibal Holocaust that hasn’t already
been said? It is certainly a film of questionable taste and content.
This is, in my humble opinion, thee definitive Italian Cannibal movie.
I first learned of this film inside a hole-in-the-wall trash video store
in the late 80’s. I remember scanning the horror section when I came upon
a black video box complete with masking tape across its face. In crude
capital letters, someone had scribbled in the title with a black magic
marker - and there was no movie summary on the back of this bootleg. I
asked the nearby clerk what this mysterious video was all about. He plucked
it from my hands and nearly said what the old book dealer in The NeverEnding
Story said, “This movie… is not for you.” He then placed it on
the Special Interests shelf.
Now here’s where I take a stance that differs from some columnists or journalists,
news anchors or documentary filmmakers; the aforementioned story isn’t
true - not a shred of it. What’s my point, you may ask? To set-up my dear
readers with some mild intrigue and spark wonder; to sell this film. That
is the subtext of Cannibal Holocaust. Four documentary filmmakers,
with less than honest work ethics, head into the Amazon’s Green Inferno
- to seek out and document vicious Cannibal tribes in hopes of fame and
fortune. They go missing, but only their film cans are found. Sounds like The
Blair Witch Project, huh? Just keep in mind that this movie pre-dates
‘Blair’ some twenty years... In the first half of the film,
we follow a world renowned anthropologist by the name of Harold Monroe
(wonderfully played by porn actor Robert Kerman) on his journey into the
Amazons to find said crew. Monroe and his rescue team are met with distrust
and less-than-enthusiastic hospitality by the Yacumo Tribe; because the
last white men to cross through wore out their welcome indefinitely. After
gaining their trust, the team is led deep into the jungle, where we learn
of two other tribes at war with one another - The Yanomamos and The Shamitari
Tribe. The team gains acceptance from the Yanomamos by saving some of their
tribesmen from the other clan - they are then invited to have dinner with
them. This is when we discover the Yanomamos are the ones who had actually
slaughtered and devoured the film crew. Monroe ultimately uses his wit
to obtain the film cans held by the tribe.
In the second half, we watch the found footage in hopes of shedding some
journalistic light as to what went wrong – all whilst a New York news station
gears up to broadcast the documentary; as it is their biggest story yet.
When this raw footage plays out, we learn that the true savages aren’t
the cannibals at all; they are the filmmakers. Monroe’s attempt is to then
shake this broadcast from the clutches of American Television – but as
one network executive tells him, irregardless of the documentarians ethics,
“today people want sensationalism; the more you rape their senses the happier
Brilliantly directed by Ruggero Deodato (Last Cannibal World a.k.a. Jungle
Holocaust) who so cleverly spools a ballet of a film-within-a-film.
This movie will definitely shock, offend and disgust you - but it will
also make you question the media in which we so often “depend” on and take
our cues from. On the flipside, the delicate and beautiful score by Riz
Ortolani set against some of the most horrible images ever to emulsify
- shows a contrast of real beauty amidst the savagery; and will command
an emotion from you one way or another. Cannibal Holocaust has had
a troubled road since its birth in 1980 - although debatable, it is said
to have been banned in over 60 countries. The director was imprisoned and
fined for making a ‘snuff’ film and authorities in Milan believed he had
his actors murdered for the effect. Deodato had to call the actors into
court to prove they were alive and well. Not to mention the film has half
a dozen scenes of animal killings and cruelty. That was, hands down, the
hardest part for me when it came time to picking it off the video shelf.
It took me a few visits to muster up the courage to take this adventure.
After seeing an animal get barbarically
killed onscreen, your mind believes thereafter, that any scene in which
a human being is killed and/or eaten - is absolutely real. That is, dare
I say the genius of Cannibal Holocaust, but also its curse. The
social commentary condemns the central character’s killing for entertainment;
but that is exactly what the makers of ‘Cannibal’ did in the slaughtering
of innocent animals. Nonetheless, those interested in true Italian Horror
(and who have strong-stomachs) should take this rare journey. You’ve been
Grindhouse Releasing is a cult film distribution company partnered by film
editor/distributor Bob Murawski and actor/director Sage Stallone (yes,
Rocky’s Son). They have released a wonderful 2 disc DVD chock full
of special features and an animal-cruelty free version for those Vegans
- The special effects in the film were so
realistic that director Ruggero Deodato reportedly had to go to court and
prove that it was just make-up, fake blood and guts.
- The animal slaughterings in the movie were
real, which resulted in the movie's being banned in its native Italy.
- The film caused some scandal in Italy at
the time, and had trouble with the censorship board. There was a rumor
that the performers had really been slain, so director Ruggero Deodato
had to take the actors with him to the set of an Italian TV show in order
to prove that they hadn't been eaten alive.
- The in-film-documentary "The Last Road
To Hell", which features several executions, consists of authentic
footage supposedly from Uganda.
- Deodato was inspired to make the movie after
seeing his son watching violent news on TV, and thinking about how the
journalists focus on the violence.
- This movie has gained the title of the most
notorious movie of all-time, and is often claimed to be banned in over
60 countries worldwide. If true, it would easily hold the world record
for the most heavily banned film.
- Deodato wanted a scene in which the natives
fed an enemy tribesman to piranhas but he didn't have a working underwater
camera. Only still shots of that scene exist.
- The iconic image for the film shows a "cannibal"
girl impaled on a stick. Upon being summoned to court in order to assert
that no actors were harmed during production, Deodato explained that the
girl simply sat on a bicycle seat attached to the pole's base, while holding
a small pointed balsa wood piece in her mouth. The fake blood was then
added. Deodato commented that the girl had an unusually calm temperament
to be able to remain so still during the filming.
- According to a 2005 interview with Carl
Gabriel Yorke, Yorke said that when rehearsing for the sex scene with Francesca
Ciardi, she suggested that the two go out in the middle of the jungle and
"actually do it". Yorke declined, stating that he was with somebody back
in New York. As a result, Ciardi was very upset with him during the entire
- When Carl Gabriel Yorke arrived in the Amazon
for shooting, he wasn't given a script or an idea of what the movie was
about. As soon as he arrived, director Ruggero Deodato shouted "That's
my star! Get him into makeup!" Almost immediately, the first scene they
shot was the amputation of one of the character's leg. Yorke later in an
interview said while staying there in the jungle, he didn't know whether
this film was a Hollywood production or simply a snuff film.
- A large advertisement for Dracula is visible in the opening shots of the streets of New York City.
- Immediately after a pig was shot and killed
in the movie, Carl Gabriel Yorke botched a long monologue Deodato very
much wanted to be included in the movie. After rehearsing the line several
times and doing fine, Yorke says he screwed up during filming because he
heard the pig squeal and die. Retakes weren't possible because they had
no access to any more pigs, which they would only use to shoot and kill.
- Originally, Deodato had a fake monkey head
with fake brains in it to have the natives eat instead of actually killing
and eating a monkey. The natives talked him out of it, however, as monkey
brains were a delicacy to them.
- The pistol used by Robert Kerman in the
movie was a Smith and Wesson .32
- Director Ruggero Deodato makes a cameo as
a man sitting on a blanket outside of the NYU university.
- The scene where an actor kills a monkey
was shot twice, so two monkeys were killed for that scene.
- Though uncaring towards the nature of his
film during shooting, Ruggero Deodato now regrets everything he did, mostly
the actual animal killings. He said once that he wishes now that he never
made the movie.
- Robert Kerman's character had to be dubbed,
but all other actors' real voices were used.
- Claims of this being a snuff film are still
rampant. Even as recently as 1993, authorities at a Birmingham comic fair
seized the film on this belief.
- There have been six unofficial sequels to Cannibal
Holocaust. Natura contro (1988) was the first movie to call
itself Cannibal Holocaust II (in Italy, Turkey, and the UK). Other
movies that tried to incorporate themselves with Cannibal Holocaust were Schiave bianche: violenza in Amazzonia (1985) (Cannibal
Holocaust 2: The Catherine Miles Story on European DVD), Mangiati
vivi (1980) (Cannibal Holocausto 2 on Argentinian DVD), Mondo
cannibale (2003) (V) (known as Cannibal Holocaust 2: The Beginning in Japan), and Nella terra dei cannibali (2003) (V) (also known
as Cannibal Holocaust 3: Cannibal vs. Commando in Japan). If all
these movies were considered actual sequels, Cannibal Holocaust would have four "part two"s in its series.
- The turtle killed in the turtle killing
scene was a Yellow-spotted river turtle or Podocnemis unifilis.
- In ten days after its release, the movie
grossed what would be about $5 million dollars today (approximately $1.9
million in February 1980) before the film was seized by the courts and
Deodato arrested. Because of its infamy and several subsequent re-releases,
it is claimed that the film has grossed $200 million worldwide (inflation
not adjusted), though this has never been verified.