Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Dir- Ruggero Deodato
Like the spaghetti westerns of the sixties, Italian cannibal films were the rage in the seventies. Like many of those westerns, these films had similar plots as well as the same tragic conclusions. A group of white explorers would enter the dense jungle of the Amazon rainforests and meet up with seemingly friendly cannibals who were only looking to have these guests as their next meal. With the many films made, one wonders why no one noticed the very similar techniques and stories. We see women gang-raped, and men getting castrated or having their skulls opened up for a dessert of fresh brain. Everyone seemed to be a potential meal for each other. Cannibal Holocaust is considered by many to be the most graphically intense and brutal film ever made even compared to its grotesque contemporaries.
The film begins with an award-winning documentary expedition, who travel to the Amazon to film cannibal tribes. Months pass, and not a word is heard from them. A rescue/search party is put together and led by a Professor Harold Monroe, along with his guides he travels to the Amazon and hopes to discover the fate of the expedition and possibly get their lost film. The footage brought back by Prof Monroe is shown to an audience, and the outcome of the film crew is revealed for the remainder of the film. What sets this film apart from the other cannibal stock is the brutal nature of both the cannibals and the explorers. The addition of real animal deaths is quite unsettling and resulted in the film being banned in Italy. It may have been included to suspend our belief, but little can divert the fact that this is still a cannibal movie and a ruthless one. The filmmakers revel in showing us that the explorers are, at times, just as cruel and brutal as the savages they are documenting. Director Ruggero Deodato created the film as a commentary on sleaze journalism and how they often exploit death for ratings. Yet, he became a target of criticism due to the animal deaths that occurred. As a sign of the human condition, this film gets bloodier, darker, and unsettling with each scene in hypocritical contrast to the Directors supposed intent to criticize the very violence this movie seems to excel in. Cannibal Holocaust was the most notorious of the many cannibal films of its era; it is also the first found footage movie predating The Blair Witch Project by 20 years.