Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

October 2, 2011

Movie Review: Cannibal Holocaust (1980, Blu-ray)

Well here it is folks, the very first Blu-ray edition of the notorious horror film Cannibal Holocaust. Directed by euro-cult movie maverick, Ruggero Deodato (Jungle Holocaust, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man), Cannibal Holocaust has been produced for the Blu-ray market by Shameless Screen Entertainment out of the UK. With a surprisingly minor interference by The British Board of Film Censors, Shameless has been  are forced to have a single scene of animal violence censored (14 seconds total) for the release. In a way this is kind of amazing, considering the fact that Cannibal Holocaust has quite a bit more animal violence that made it through. In addition to the film, Shameless has also included a healthy serving of extras and an alternate cut made by Deodato to lessen the animal carnage. Is it worth the upgrade? Let's have a look!

Buy Cannibal Holocaust Blu-ray or DVD on Amazon UK!

The story unfolds deep in the Green Inferno where Professor Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman, Debbie Does Dallas, Eaten Alive) is on his own jungle adventure, in search of a lost camera crew in the dangerous conditions of the Amazon. Cannibal Holocaust is essentially two parts with the first following Monroe as he becomes close with the various Indio occupying the jungle. Monroe’s even partakes in some their rituals - which include the devouring of a human heart. After numerous scenes of fake and real graphic violence, the Professor discovers a 16mm camera - which may hold the secret to the whereabouts of these four reporters.

Monroe journeys back to New York to meet his colleagues where they then take a look at what's contained on the reels. It’s on these mysterious reels where our second part starts and we as the viewer take on the voyeuristic journey by watching the 16mm film with Monroe. Alan Yates (Carl Yorke) leads the group of documentary filmmakers that include, Faye Daniels (Francesca Ciardi), Jack Anders (Perry Pirkanen) and Mark Tomaso (Luca Barbereschi).These folks are determined to find out the existence of cannibalism in South America, even if they have to lend their own "unique" brand of reporting to get their story.


Shock value is all over Cannibal Holocaust; there's no debating that, but aside from the real animal violence some of the more vile scenes in Cannibal Holocaust aren't entirely explicit. The ritual rape and murder of the Indio woman seen by Monroe doesn't show too much but yet it's jaw-dropping in its cruelty. The "abortion scene" is another that's helped a lot by some early "shaky-cam", to make the viewer think you’re seeing a baby being pulled out of a woman. This is the genius of Deodato. His ability to do some of these little things are what has made this film so special - and appalling.

The special "Director's Edit"- that's also included on this release - may be useful to those who are effected  by the animal violence as it does lessen the appearance of it onscreen with a little digital trickery. This is most evident during the "tortoise killing". The special edit doesn't do anything for me though, and that's not because I like the animal grue, it's reprehensible. I really think it’s an important part of the film. The censorship of the "muskrat scene" (the sole edit) is still kind of baffling to me. If you’re going to edit the muskrat why not cut the much more nasty (in my opinion) tortoise demise. Again, nature’s underdog, the turtle, is fucked again - this time being by the BBFC. The actual editing of the muskrat demise is pretty seamless as some stock-footage of monkeys running up the trees are inserted. The footage is also accompanied by some shrieking from the struggling rodent. If you've only seen it once or not at all, you may not even notice. Shameless did a nice job dealing with the censors because it doesn't hurt the film.

Shameless has really done a fantastic job on the extras. It may not be as packed as the Grindhouse DVD but what this edition does have is top-notch and unique to this release. Two featurettes (running nearly 40 minutes apiece) take center stage. First up you get Film and Be Damned which consists of two interviews - one with Carl Yorke and the other with Ruggerro Deodato. Deodato remarks about his reasoning for making the film, being media sensationalism. He also has some interesting observations about his cast, including Robert Kerman. Deodato was shocked that he was a porn actor because of his meager manhood.

Next up is The Long Road Back From Hell. Deodato and Yorke return with co-star Francesca Ciardi, writer Kim Newman and others to dissect some more intricate reasons why Cannibal Holocaust has impacted so many viewers over the years. I found Ciardi to be very interesting, basically because it sounds like she hates the film. She claims Deodato "betrayed" the cast. Yorke also goes into detail about being afraid for his life while working on the film. It's pretty juicy stuff. Aside from those two solid supplements we get an original trailer for Cannibal Holocaust and a compilation of Shameless trailers to round out the extra features.

Visually this Blu-ray looks absolutely lovely. The color is vibrant and does have a bit of a pop to the image. Skin-tones look very good, as does the detail to the to the tropical locations . The 16mm scenes are cleaned up, but still look rough enough to maintain the feel that’s so important to the second half of the film. In the sound department Riz Ortolani’s track sounds as good as ever. Overall it’s a nice presentation.

While I would have loved to see Cannibal Holocaust uncut, I have to give Shameless credit for doing an excellent job bringing this controversial but very important genre film to the 1080p format. Recommended.

Hear more about Cannibal Holocaust on Cinema Head Cheese: The Podcast right here: CHC on the New Cannibal Holocaust Release!

No comments:

Post a Comment