More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 36.59%
Worth A Look39.02%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 2.44%
Total Crap: 21.95%

1 review, 35 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Transference: A Love Story by Erik Childress

Thunder Force by Peter Sobczynski

Voyagers by Peter Sobczynski

Flaming Brothers by Jay Seaver

French Exit by Lybarger

Perdita Durango by Jay Seaver

Godzilla vs. Kong by Peter Sobczynski

Charlatan by Jay Seaver

Nobody (2021) by Lybarger

Raya and the Last Dragon by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Cannibal Holocaust
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"It may be the nastiest of the Video Nasties."
4 stars

"A small group of documentary filmmakers ventured into a godforsaken place far from civilization. They disappeared without a trace, except for the footage they left behind. The movie you are about to see is that footage." Sound familiar?

It worked like gangbusters for The Blair Witch Project, which used its cinema verite premise as a marketing ploy. But in order to prove the unoriginality of Blair Witch's gimmick, you don't even have to look to the film that directly preceded it, The Last Broadcast. Both films were scooped twenty years earlier by Ruggero Deodato's notorious Cannibal Holocaust, which actually takes two narrative tracks. In the movie's first half, anthropology professor Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman, perhaps better known to some under his old-school porn alias R. Bolla) is tapped to go to the remote jungles of South America to find out what happened to four missing documentarians. After some fancy footwork in which he and his guides manage to impress the natives enough not to be eaten, Professor Monroe stumbles across a bunch of film cans hanging from trees. He makes it back to New York with the footage, and in the second half of the film the professor and the TV executives who want to air the footage watch the images with growing revulsion.

We do, too. Picked up in 2001 by Grindhouse Releasing (co-owned by Sylvester Stallone's son Sage) for a gradual cross-country crawl through art houses and festivals, Cannibal Holocaust has long been an infamous Video Nasty, pursued by gorehounds over the last two decades. But this film is hardly a fun splatterthon like George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. It was among the first of the Eurocannibal flicks (others include Lucio Fulci's Zombie and Umberto Lenzi's Cannibal Ferox, aka Make Them Die Slowly), and it's backed not only by an upsetting cinema verite approach but by a Message. And a rather ham-handed one at that, spelled out for you at the end: "Who were the real cannibals?"

It's a fair question. Unlike Dr. Monroe and his guides who enter the territory humbly but firmly, with a solid grasp of the native customs, and therefore survive the four arrogant journalists blunder into "the Green Inferno," where three tribes co-exist not altogether peacefully. The documentarians seem less horrified than jazzed by the brutal primitive rituals they witness and, in some cases, set in motion by their own insensitive actions. Deodato is obviously scoring points on the media's complicity in the violence it reports on, a satirical sword taken up again by Man Bites Dog. In that Belgian gut-puncher as well as this film, the camera crew find the line blurred between subject and observer; they are drawn into hideous acts, given license by the situation to indulge their id. The crew in Cannibal Holocaust (three men and a woman) either perpetrate or are privy to mutilation, rape, and possibly murder. Those who can't handle rape scenes in movies, by the way, are advised to give this film a wide berth; it contains at least three such scenes, including a woman violated by a rock during a ritual designed to condemn adultery.

At first, white audiences might find the natives appalling. But they're only doing what they've done for centuries; their ways are sometimes barbaric by our standards, but then our ways might be barbaric by theirs, too. There's a bit when one of the crew members shoots a piglet for no reason other than swaggering spite; the natives might butcher animals and, Christ, do we ever see animals slaughtered on camera for real but always for food. The American journalists begin to act out their idea of native savagery, without the cultural context that might give it meaning. Three of the men on the crew gang-bang a screaming native girl; the woman in the crew looks on with distaste, but doesn't do much to stop the assault. Later, the crew proudly shows off the result of this rape -- the movie's defining image, the girl impaled by a spike through her vagina and out of her mouth. Was this the tribe's punishment of the girl for her defilement, or did the crew do it? It's ambiguous.

We keep going back to Dr. Monroe in New York, showing this footage to the gradually nauseated network execs. The final reel gives Cannibal Holocaust the shape of a particularly virulent revenge flick, and it delivers the revenge with a large helping of rage and disgust. The men are torn, literally, to bits; the woman is stripped and raped, then bashed to death with sticks and rocks. Intestines, genitals, gnawed body parts are scattered about the scorched green landscape. The end. A shaken network exec orders all the footage burned; a quietly despairing Dr. Monroe makes his way down to the New York streets, ruminating on the difference between savages.

And we've just watched it all, and what does that make us? "Cannibal Holocaust" may be the nastiest of the Video Nasties. It turns our voyeurism into horror, and then exposes our horror as hypocrisy.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 05/20/06 08:41:04
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell trash only 4 psychos even if u love gore skip it 1 stars
7/10/13 belial1134 The original found footage file. May not be the best movie but ahead of its time 5 stars
9/04/12 abhirup its a horror masterpiece. 4 stars
5/03/12 Marty only gripe was why the 4 journos so quickly terrible? most graphic film i've seen. 4 stars
7/08/09 Karamashi Effective, disturbing, shocking, beautiful, and an incredible achievement. 5 stars
1/19/09 Fruitcake angel Filth, filth, filth. Real life animal torture to make sick gore sleaze even worse. -5! 1 stars
9/14/08 karamashi An astoundingly effective film. Maybe even too effective but a masterpiece and truly grisly 5 stars
8/14/08 Derek K. Did I expect to respect this film this much? Heck no. It's now probably in my Top 100. 5 stars
5/27/08 thijs This film is certainly not for everybody but it's a must-see for the more mature horrorfans 4 stars
4/01/08 action movie fan extremly gory but interesting story of film crew devoured by jungle cannibals 4 stars
3/29/08 Nate Do not see this will haunt you for life... 4 stars
2/07/08 Adam Smith Good adventure flick, not as gory or shocking as made out, in fact qiuite tame. 4 stars
12/12/07 Bnorm This movie really doesnt pull any punches . i cant even count how many people got raped 5 stars
11/10/07 bob I saw this movie on a very grainy VCD about 5 years ago. I truely thout it was me 5 stars
5/05/07 Elliott This movie is a strong movie with a strong message...extremely sick though and disturbing! 4 stars
4/23/07 stef great movie, amongst all the gore there was a valid message 5 stars
3/31/06 Indrid Cold At the opposite end of the subtlety spectrum from Blair Witch. Guess which one sucks. 2 stars
12/24/05 JD animal killings! urgh, no, its not scary, more weird/stupid than anyting. stupid, dumb. 1 stars
6/18/05 aldo people eating people...hitting them with branches...wft 1 stars
4/17/05 Vince Not scary, just disgustingly gross. No script, bad acting and cheesy soundtrack. 1 stars
6/07/04 Ryan Clark Not for the squeamish, but superior in every way to many films being made today. 4 stars
5/01/04 dead next door this is the best of all the italien cannibal movies,and a masterpiece. 5 stars
4/18/04 Mark Sim Uncut its hard to stomach but its one of those "Ive seen THAT film" movies. A classic! 5 stars
2/20/04 Naturezrevenge Senseless and discusting animal killings executed by the actors themselves. A piece of crap 1 stars
11/17/03 crack gagging machine 70's coke pychosis did the director have a breakdown ? 1 stars
7/07/03 Chainsaw Slasher Brilliant, A cinamatic masterpiece of in-your-face reality 5 stars
6/15/03 Alice Stupid movie that has real animal killing in it.Thats not what Horror is about. Crap ! 1 stars
4/03/03 Zargo i saw the uncut version, but I was expecting more gore 4 stars
12/08/02 Monster W. Kung I refuse to see this piece of shit. 1 stars
7/25/02 palaboy101 VERY disturbing movie. "Blair Witch Project" totally ripped-off the plot of this movie! 5 stars
6/15/01 zombie pretty good 4 stars
5/30/01 Ivan Ravenous An amazing film, that should be experienced at least once. 5 stars
3/03/01 Matt "....Yum!" 5 stars
2/21/01 Rocket Boy Words cannot describe.....too bad it's just about banned in the U.S. 5 stars
3/26/00 MICHAEL SKY-EAGLE SMITH The best movie ever. exploitave nasty and gory. get the uncut version 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  19-Jun-1985 (NR)
  DVD: 26-Aug-2008

  N/A (18)

  N/A (R)

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast