Monday, February 22, 2010

Cannibal Holocaust

Cannibal Holocaust 1980
Director: Ruggero Deodata
Writer: Gianfranco Clerici
Starring Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen. Luca Barbareschi, Salvatore Basile, Ricardo Feuntes and Carl Gabriel Yorke

There are very few films that live up to their notoriety, but Cannibal Holocaust definitely lives up to it's reputation. It is a film that is unflinching in it's showing of brutality and every time I view it the film still hits me like a sledge hammer. It is a film that really goes with the documentary feel and makes it it's own. People believe The Blair Witch Project to be a gripping and realistic pseudo horror documentary but Holocaust did it first and better. This is a film that has graphic depictions of real animal torture and even though that is reprehensible for being shown on screen, if you don not watch that footage in the film it loses some of its power. It is a film that really shows the brutal reality of human nature and you really loathe the characters in the film and truly feel that they deserve the actions that are taken against them. This is a important film that should not be just seen as another grind house exploitation film about cannibalism but a film that has something to tell us about human cruelty and its repercussions.
The plot basics are this, Professor Harold Monroe (Kerman) a anthropologist form New York heads to the wilds of the amazons to search for answers to what happened to a group of documentary filmmakers who have disappeared without a trace. He comes in contact with two primitive tribes and discovers the remains of the crews bodies along with the footage they filmed. He is able to make a deal with the chieftain and gets the footage and returns with it to New York. He views the footage in detail which chronicles the travels of Alan Yates (Yorke), Faye Daniels (Ciardi), and their 2 cameramen, Jack Anders (Pirkanen) and Mark Tomaso (Barbareschi) through the Amazonian forest. It appears that they terrorized the tribes to get the best out of their footage. Monroe is approached by TV executives who wants him to edit a watchable version of the documentary, but he tries to talk them out of it as they have not watched the final footage he has witnessed. Finally he gets them to watch it and the unspeakable acts that happen on screen and they see the error of their ways.
This is a powerful film. The direction by Deodata is strong and powerful and he is unflinching with his camera work on showing all of the brutality and violence. It has a grainy documentary feel that really works and the film would not have worked as well without this visual style. The script is tight and fast. It sets up the story very well and it is great how it goes from the adventure of Monroe in the Amazon too what Yates and company does in the jungle. The maliciousness and cruelty of Yates and his crew is palatably sleazy and evil that the viewer really begins to loathe these characters. The cast is very good. Kerman is very good and is really the heart of the soul of the film trying to bring back some humanity in what he is a witness too. Yorke is great as the sleazy director Yates. With each scene he antes up the cruelty of his character and it really pays off. Ciardi is also exemplary as Faye and at first you think she may be a sympathetic character but it soon becomes clear that she is on board with whatever Yates has planned for the natives. The acting of Pirkanen is great too, he does a great job of adding to the depravity of the film crews actions. The SFX and effects are brutally realistic. The most glaring example of this is the native the crew finds that is impaled from anus to mouth, that is a brutal visual that will stay with you long after witnessing the movie. The use of the animal torture and cruelty needs to be spoken of too. Though it is horrible to watch, to really witness the entire achievement of the film it needs to be seen as a crucial part of why this film works. The score by Riz Ortolani is a integral part of the film as well. It is haunting and melancholic and when they play it as the film crew is tormenting the natives is really powerful stuff. This is a film that any connoisseur of grind house and exploitation films should see, though they may be scarred internally after witnessing it.
This one gets 5 out of 5

1 comment:

the jaded viewer said...

Its the pinnacle of all the cannibal films...if you want to indulge in the others, I made up a list a while back on the best of the best.