Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Cannibal Holocaust is advertised as “the most controversial film ever made,” and the claim is not without justification. Its director was arrested upon release under suspicion of making a snuff film, and the film features real animal mutilation. It uses the characteristics of the found footage genre better than the majority of its successors; despite the amateurish acting, the unconventional narrative framework lends the film a disconcerting realism.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

The film is undeniably a success when evaluated on its ability to leave a queasy feeling in its audience’s stomach. Unfortunately, that queasiness is not just thanks to its (at the time) novel presentation, but rather the uncomfortable synchronicity between the film’s protagonists – a trio of documentary filmmakers who venture into the “Green Inferno” of deep Amazon only to raze, rape and ravage, grinning at their atrocities – and Cannibal Holocaust’s filmmakers themselves. It’s not just the animal slaughter or racist undertones, but the staggering lack of perspective evident. When a character explains that burning down a village and slaughtering the animals is wrong because it’s akin to throwing the contents of someone’s fridge onto the ground, it becomes disturbingly clear that Cannibal Holocaust’s producers are almost as warped as their doomed protagonists.


8 thoughts on “Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

  1. I should explain my lack of rating: basically I feel wrong giving this a bad rating (because it is incredibly effective as a work of art, in that it inspire real, human emotion – even if that emotion is disgust), but I equally can’t justify giving it a good rating. So, until I work out some kind of middle ground I’m … chickening out.

    • Thats why I havent reviewed it. Seen it a couple of times, but there was nothing to redeem it, and I kind of felt they deserved what they got…..shocking for the sake of it I think. Although I suppose it was the pioneer for found footage before Blair Witch came along.

      • I think it deserves some credit for being one of the first – if not the first – found footage films, and demonstrating how that genre could be used to really engage (and disturb/disgust) an audience. It’s similar to Birth of a Nation in that you can respect its contribution to the medium and recognise it as artistically important without, y’know, liking it or supporting its creators.

  2. Pingback: Every Cut is a Lie: M. Night Shyamalan, Found Footage and The Visit | ccpopculture

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