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E.C. McMullen Jr.
Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Notice all the countries whose ratings have banned CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST? Now add another 26 to the mix.
CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is bad news and I'm not even kidding. I watched this one with my amigo, Kelly Parks, and by the end ol' Kelly, who - like me - watches one hell of a lot of Horror movies - was visibly shaken.
Later in the week, we were watching the Crocodile Hunter and Kelly said, "You know, I can't watch the Discovery Channel anymore without thinking about CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST."
This isn't particularly a well made movie. In fact, it has a musical soundtrack which is totally absurd and disrupts the mood of the film.
Like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST was made almost 20 years earlier), the story is about some young film makers going into the wild to capture on film a thing so legendary, that no one in the modern world really believes that it exists anymore.
The plot of the film is that tribal cannibals are alive and well and living only 6 hours, by plane, from New York City. The young film makers disappear in the jungle and a Professor / Detective Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman aka R. Bolla to you old-tyme porno fans of Debbie Does Dallas and such), goes into the jungles to find them. He never does, but he discovers their film. The barter he has to make for the retrieval of the film from the Cannibals will turn your stomach - though that is hardly the worst of the movie.
The movie begins with three anthropology students, Faye Daniels (Francesca Ciardi), Alpha Male, Alan Yates (Gabriel Yorke), and Jack Anders (Perry Pirkanen: THE GATES OF HELL, CANNIBAL FEROX) who travel to the Amazon to make a news documentary about real live cannibals. These are not the best sort of people to put themselves into harm's way as they are known to be aloof and snobby, garnering no respect from their peers. Some label them Tabloid journalism, others call them geniuses. Mark Tomaso, played by Luca Barbareschi, is the local who is going to take them into the jungle.
Aldo Gasparri (CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY) handles the Make-up FX and there is plenty: A castration scene, a chest cracking scene, rape - both male and female - eye gouging, a woman impaled through the ass with the point coming out of her mouth, other guys impaled on sticks, organ eating, un-surgical amputations / dismemberment,
Hey, where are you going? There's more!
Because Ruggero filmed actual tribesmen and cannibals, there is a shot of everyday life in this movie, such as a live terrified monkey whose face is hacked off so the tribesman can suck out the fresh brain and toss away the body as if it was a clam shell. A live pig shot to death.
It gets to the point where you don't know what is real and what is illusionary: i.e. the women and children set on fire . . .
Oh, I should mention this, lest you are one of those people who presumes to be jaded merely because you've seen the Horror of the world on your sterile television news? Director Deodato was jailed for making this movie - not due to any form of censorship - in as much as the judges who watched the film couldn't believe that they were watching special effects and not actual murder. It looks SO REAL!
And some of it was.
As I said before, this is not a well made movie - not even among Cannibal Horror movies (admittedly a small sub genre) - but it is quite powerful. If it didn't have the silly ass soundtrack it would be far more powerful.
This is the zenith of exploitation cinema and goes beyond fictional Horror. The saving grace of this film (Horror can't work unless you believe in the value of human life.), is the fact that it makes you care for the victims, although you might be surprised, at the end, to discover just which victims you truly care about. Chances are, it isn't your first or second guess.
The bottom line is, it scares. What's more, it shocks you and stays with you for a very long time after the film is over. You might even feel slightly traumatized after viewing CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, which is why I give it 3 Shriek Girls.
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