Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Rated 18
Spoiler Free

Someone's cooking downstairs, it smells fantastic and that is distracting me somewhat because I'm obsessing about what my dinner will be. I made a prawn curry the other day, maybe that, but will it be as delicious as whatever I can smell? Or human flesh, like Cannibal Holocaust advertises?

Advertises is probably a strong word; the actual production of human meat looks like an expensive pain in the arse according to Ruggero Deodarto’s loved/loathed video nasty. For a start you need to find some American filmmakers and fly them to the Amazon where it’s apparently Ok to carve up and consume people. I’m not rich or in the Amazon, but I am an amateur butcher and wouldn’t mind the practice.

I bought the restored Blu Ray release of Cannibal Holocaust because I listened to a RedHanded (who are a brilliant true crime podcast) episode and they documented the film’s absolutely unbelievable creation and existence. I’d seen the film some time ago but probably when I was sixteen or so; more years than I care to admit or can recall very well.

At the time of its release in 1980, people thought Cannibal Holocaust was real. Not all of them, just the gullible ones, but it is a good marketing technique. I can’t do it justice in this review, and that isn’t what my short piece of culinary questions is about, but do check out RedHanded and the IMDb trivia page for Cannibal Holocaust because it is astonishing. If you thought the furore over The Blair Witch Project potentially being real was mad…

Cannibal Holocaust is a film of two halves: the first being the rescue mission for the idiot students, the second being the found footage of said students being made into delicious perimortem meals. Or not delicious, who knows. 

I’m going to completely disregard the first half of Cannibal Holocaust because basically the only reason it is there is to legitimise the second half and to bring the film to feature length. A forty five minute filler, which is to say the very least, not a great start.

The second half, where all the carnage anyone who isn’t working for a newspaper or certification board is watching Cannibal Holocaust happens, is a perverse mix of violence and nudity, with a score set somewhere between iconic and fucking annoying. It's very over sexualized; obsessed with breasts or pubes or willies. Not really labia though, because that’s just crass.

Once everybody has got their genitals out and jiggled them about for a bit, presumably Deodarto and team got bored and decided it was time to start having them carved up. I hadn’t had enough time to get to know any of the characters past big willy, smaller willy, boobs and pubes. Honestly did not care about them dying or in what order. This section of the film is where it gets its lurid reputation.

The violence is sleazy, nasty and somewhat believable, but Cannibal Holocaust is not scary, it is titillation, mutilation and mastication. The impact of this is certainly dulled by time and in my case being desensitised, I can understand why it was so ground breaking or upsetting at the time, but only because of the final act.

Bedsit it?

The restoration looks pretty good so I'm pleased with the purchase of the Blu-Ray, only issue is I can't see why I'll watch Cannibal Holocaust again. Overall however, unless you’re into this sort of thing or are being forced to watch it, Cannibal Holocaust doesn’t reward, past a decent lesson in historical gore effects. I never found out what the food downstairs was and as yet nobody has offered to let me Meiwes them*. 4/10
*This is a joke. I am not interested, do not contact me (again- I'm looking at you here Colin).

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