A New York University professor returns from a rescue mission to the Amazon rainforest with the footage shot by a lost team of documentarians who were making a film about the area's local cannibal tribes.
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A New York anthropologist named Professor Harold Monroe travels to the wild, inhospitable jungles of South America to find out what happened to a documentary film crew that disappeared two months before while filming a documentary about primitive cannibal tribes deep in the rain forest. With the help of two local guides, Professor Monroe encounters two tribes, the Yacumo and the Yanomamo. While under the hospitality of the latter tribe, he finds the remains of the crew and several reels of their undeveloped film. Upon returning to New York City, Professor Monroe views the film in detail, featuring the director Alan Yates, his girlfriend Faye Daniels, and cameramen Jack Anders and Mark Tomaso. After a few days of traveling, the film details how the crew staged all the footage for their documentary by terrorizing and torturing the natives. Despite Monroe's objections, the television studio Pan American still wishes to air the footage as a legitimate documentary. In order to change their... Written by
The iconic poster image for the film shows a cannibal girl impaled on a stick. In court, Deodato explained that the girl sat on a bicycle seat attached to the pole's base, while holding a small pointed piece of balsa wood in her mouth. Fake blood was added afterward. He commented that the girl was unusually calm, and remained very still during filming. See more »
After the "Last Road to Hell" sequence, the female executive tells Professor Monroe that the footage was "all a put-on" and "there was no enemy army approaching." The Last Road to Hell sequence is made up completely of execution footage, with no soldiers acting or enemy army approaching. The script originally called for footage of Vietnamese rebels firing at approaching troops, but execution footage from Nigeria was used instead. See more »
Man is omnipotent; nothing is impossible for him. What seemed like unthinkable undertakings yesterday are history today. The conquest of the moon for example: who talks about it anymore? Today we are already on the threshold of conquering our galaxy, and in a not too distant tomorrow, we'll be considering the conquest of the universe, and yet man seems to ignore the fact that on this very planet there are still people living in the stone age and practicing cannibalism.
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In the opening credits: "For the sake of authenticity, some of the sequences have been retained in their entirety" See more »
Ruggero Deodato may be the most hated film director on the planet for his disturbing exploitation masterpiece that is Cannibal Holocaust. It's truly one of the few films that lives up to the hype its marketing gives it. The posters scream, "The one that goes all the way!" How true. "Can a movie go too far?" I think in this instance, yes. Cannibal Holocaust is now and will always be the most disturbing motion picture ever made. The brutality in what it shows and the unbelievable disregard for emotion that the film makers portray is enough to make you shudder without actually seeing the movie. Some of the displays in the movie are hard to even believe a human being could think up such vile and putrid acts, and they're shown in raw, uncut form. Deodato doesn't try to stray away from the action or try to censor with camera tricks. He sticks the camera right into the mix and displays some of the most shocking and nauseating images ever put to film. Of course it's perverse, and of course it's putrid, objectionable, and all other vile things you can think of, but despite all this, it's still an incredible film; a true landmark in movie history.
The movie begins with a TV program about the documentarians who go missing - Alan Yates, director; Faye Daniels, script girl and Alan's fiancé; and Mark Tomasso and Jack Anders, both cameramen. NYU anthropology professor Harold Monroe heads to the Amazon to lead the search "team," which consists of a hardened jungle guide and his young, talented assistant. They witness disturbing and shocking rituals by all three local tribes, the Yakumo, Yanomano, and Shamitari, which is the beginning of the moral stand Deodato takes. After gaining some trust with the Yanomanos, Monroe discovers that the documentarian troupe had been killed. Frustrated with the Yanomanos' hostility and brutality, Monroe trades the group's footage (possessed by the Yanomanos) for a tape recorder. Back in New York, he views the material and discovers who the real savages are. As the film starts out, we sympathize with these four who, for the sake of information, go into the jungle for research, only to be savagely mutilated by brutal primitives. However, we come to realize that the natives were the victims of civilized society by being tortured and exploited in incredibly grotesque and inhumane ways by the documentarians, which ultimately lead to their demise in an incredible, horrifying, and disturbing climax. The climax is all the more disturbing that Faye, the script girl, received the full blunt of retribution, when she was, in fact, seemingly innocent and took no participation in the evil (and actually tries to stop it). The trouble is that she's powerless to the three other men in her group. What Deodato's intentions were to include a character like Faye is unclear, other than maybe to heighten the disturbing factor of the film's climax.
It pulls no punches. There is no chance for you to escape. Every time you think you're finally safe, you're slammed with more and more visceral content. It never stops. However, Deodato does make these horrifying and disturbing images into a cinematic masterpiece. What separates Cannibal Holocaust from other exploitative sleaze (other than being competently made and well acted) is the inclusion of subtle social commentary. Had this been a film that was grotesque for the sake of being grotesque (like Lenzi's later Cannibal Ferox), it would be as reprehensible as many claim. However, the movie instead tests our ethics and our stomachs with some of the most realistically gruesome images ever portrayed on film. The message is simple: while we can think of outsiders and, in some cases, primitives as savages, our hate and discrimination can turn US into the savages (such as racist hate of minorities). The film makes us look into ourselves. We came from savagery, and savages we are. The pinnacle of this is during a scene where the film makers impale a young girl that they just raped, and are smiling at the disturbing result. This also reflects what incredibly visceral images we as humans can find as entertaining, and also suggests that the media stages their sensationalized footage (like the film makers in the movie). And if not, it condemns the media for focusing on the violence and exploitation of the news instead of trying for honest journalism. How is easily explained. The team's goal was to produce harrowing and nasty footage, all to make into a "documentary," and obviously, the more shocking, the more unbelievable, the more successful, and staged the footage to achieve this. The all too obvious irony is that this film is in itself morally reprehensible, and still has an incredible following and fan base.
Though it is an incredible film, it's obviously not for everyone, especially the animal activist, as six animals are actually killed on screen, which is probably the most controversial aspect of the film, and the worst part of which is that the animal killings are actually unnecessary, and have no ground in the plot or morals of the rest of the movie. However, the fake human violence alone, whether it's simple gore or horrific rape, is enough to make it the most brutal movie experience ever. Other mainstream shockers such as Texas Chain Saw Massacre pale in comparison to the savagery of what is Cannibal Holocaust. Never have I felt so depressed after viewing a film, which is amplified by Riz Ortolani's beautiful, flowing melody that shocks and disturbs at times by playing during the most disturbing parts of the movie. If you are able to stomach the film enough to see it, hopefully you'll be able to look past the violence, disgusting material, cruel animal killings, and the outright evil this film depicts and see the true nature of a political statement. The downfall of the cannibal genre, Cannibal Holocaust truly stands in a league of its own.
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