Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Review by Jude Felton
A few weeks prior to writing this review, I had the privilege of attending the Slaughter in Syracuse Underground Horror Film Festival. Whilst there I happened to notice a tattoo on the leg of, modern horror/exploitation master, Ryan Nicholson’s leg. Nothing unusual about that, lots of folk have tattoos on their legs, but this one was different; it was of a rather infamous image from Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 classick, Cannibal Holocaust. Aside from being very cool, it just reminded me of the impact of this controversial, yet supremely wonderful slice of exploitation cinema.
Now, the great team at Grindhouse Releasing has released this savage movie onto a rather special Blu-Ray release; 3 discs, of which two are Blu and one is the soundtrack. And, it’s a goddamn beauty.
Having already owned Grindhouse’s previous DVD edition of the movie, I knew that I/we would be in for something special, and I was not wrong. Everything from the packaging through to the content on the discs is top-notch, but more on those later.
The film itself is one of, if not the, original found footage movie, and an absolutely supreme one at that, which is really split into two distinctive, yet seamless halves. The first follows Professor Monroe (Robert Kerman) as he, along with his team, head deep into the Amazonian jungles to search for a lost film crew. It’s here that director, Deodato, breaks us in gently to the carnage that will ensue. Okay, I’m lying; he doesn’t mess about at all, and it’s not too long before scenes of brutal savagery will befall the viewer.
Without spoiling too much (the film’s over 30 years old, so get over it), the second half of Cannibal Holocaust focuses its attention on the contents of the film crew’s camera, and what they shot. If you thought the film was rough up until now, you really should brace yourself, as it gets a lot nastier.
Cannibal Holocaust really is a masterful slice of exploitation cinema, and Grindhouse have once again done it proud. I could have done without the apologetic warning that precedes the film, as I refuse to watch the censored cut of the film, which has scenes of animal cruelty removed. The film looks and sounds fantastic; Riz Ortalani’s score was already beautiful, but now it thunders from the speakers!
Much has been said and written about Cannibal Holocaust over the years, in terms of the controversy, so to add too much would be mildly pointless. What I will say is that the film presents everything as incredibly matter of fact. There are no villains, in the true sense of a horror film, and the scenes of cannibalism, rape and torture etc. are not portrayed as acts of malice, hate or evil. They are what they are, even as uncomfortable as they can be to watch. This is modern man venturing into a world in which it is not welcome. Live or die, it is not because of any other reason other than that is how the native tribes live.
The film has long been a favorite of mine, for all its raw unabashed savagery, beautiful scenery, incredible score and unrelenting cruel violence, and this is without a doubt the version to own. It’s a release you really should discover for yourself; from the interviews and commentary, the new remastered CD of the soundtrack and even the reversible sleeve, which is hidden by the gorgeous embossed slipcase. Everything about this release is perfection, and one that true fans should snap up.
Grindhouse might not be the most prolific company out there, but what they release they do with care, attention and passion, and have yet to let me down. Their release of Cannibal Holocaust is absolutely no exception to that record. Exploitative perfection.
Cannibal Holocaust is released by Grindhouse Releasing on July 7th.