During a rescue mission into the Amazon rainforest, a professor stumbles across lost film shot by a missing documentary crew.During a rescue mission into the Amazon rainforest, a professor stumbles across lost film shot by a missing documentary crew.During a rescue mission into the Amazon rainforest, a professor stumbles across lost film shot by a missing documentary crew.
This is a hard movie to recommend to any but those who would find it anyway; but it must be said that Deodato here created the most rigorous, critical, almost philosophical movie in the Italian horror canon. The audience's lust for Third World exoticism and envelope-pushing violence are gratified and held up to the painful light of day--and not necessarily in that order. The overwhelming feeling of this picture is of a pornographer pleading, "Stop me before I shoot again."
The conceit of the movie--an academic's journey into the Amazon to find the remains of a Western film crew devoured by cannibals--permits Deodato more Pirandellian boxes within boxes than a double bill of BLOWUP and THE PLAYER. But the atmosphere of the movie, despite scenes of cruelty so extreme you sometimes want to put out your eyeballs, is relentlessly elegiac--capped by Riz Ortolani's theme music. (It can be said with certainty that no romantic ballad was ever used underneath what Deodato stages here.)
CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is the farthest edge of Extreme Cinema--as in Extreme Sports. It feels stuntlike, yet the combination of amplified bloodlust and world-weary regret is unique. Like Lucio Fulci's even more personal CAT IN THE BRAIN, it's an affecting enactment of an exploitation artist's conscience tearing apart.
It might make good viewing for Y2K Eve: it puts together the century's two salient words--holocaust and entertainment--as no other film did before or since.
- Apr 9, 1999