Movie Review – Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Cannibal Holocaust
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
Courtesy of Grindhouse Releasing and CAV Distribution
Original Release Date: 1980
3-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray Release Date: July 1, 2014

Criterion 14mm BD case wrap cs3

I think it’s a well-known fact that I’m a huge horror fan. But even so, there are many ‘classic’ horror flicks out there that I have yet to see. I have to hang my head in shame when I admit CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST was one of those films. I had heard many things about it over the years, and I even came close to renting it on VHS way back in the day…but something always kept me from seeing it. Well, thanks to the fine folks at CAV and Grindhouse Releasing, I finally sat down and watched this film on the special edition 3-disc Blu-ray version…and I am happy to report that all of the hype is true: this is truly a masterpiece of horror cinema!

If you are not familiar with CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the CAV Distribution press release:

THE ONE THAT GOES ALL THE WAY! Banned and heavily censored the world over, here is a film that surpasses its reputation as a shot-gun blast to the senses. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST presents the “found footage” of a group of four documentary filmmakers who experience brutal death at the hands of a savage South American tribe of flesh-eaters. This footage is so intense, so graphic and so unflinching in its realism that the director and producer of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST were arrested upon its original release and the film seized. Nothing you have seen before will prepare you for this uncompromising masterpiece of cinematic nihilism. Grindhouse Releasing proudly presents the definitive release of the most controversial movie ever made!

You might think this movie would be quite dated since it is 30+ years old. Quite the contrary. Aside from a couple of old hairstyles and the clothing, this film stands the test of time on many levels. And from a horror standpoint, it certainly does! This film is described as ‘the most controversial movie ever made’, and for good reason.

The acting in CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is excellent, especially when you consider director Ruggero Deodato actually used real indigenous tribes in the Amazon as some of his actors. Likewise, the story is enthralling and sucks you in right away. On a side note, this is the first ‘found footage’ film ever made, which gives it even more notoriety in the horror world.

But the brutal depictions of graphic violence and cannibalism are what truly make this film amazing. I appreciate good gore and special effects, but WOW…these are truly astonishing! There is a castration scene that left me gaping in shock, and there are many other visceral aspects that left me speechless. The film’s iconic image of the girl impaled on a large spear is what really makes me shudder; it is truly a testament to a talented production crew.

I cannot find a single flaw with this film, however I will say it won’t be for everyone. I would even bet there are horror fans out there that won’t want to see it. I, on the other hand, loved every minute of it, and I wish I had not waited so long to see it.

This special edition Blu-ray set of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is a must-own, as it contains a digitally restored original director’s cut of the film, not to mention a large list of extra features. These include:

– 3 Disc Deluxe Edition – 2 Blu-rays + CD
– New hi-definition digital restoration of the original director’s cut
– Spectacular digital stereo re-mix and original mono mix
– 2 feature-length commentary tracks – with director Ruggero Deodato and star Robert Kerman, and with stars Carl Yorke and Francesca Ciardi
– New in-depth interviews with Ruggero Deodato, Francesca Ciardi, assistant director/co-star Salvo Basile (shot in Columbia!) and cameraman Roberto Forges Davazati
– Classic interviews with Robert Kerman, Carl Yorke and Oscar-nominated composer Riz Ortolani
– Extensive still galleries and theatrical trailers from around the world
– BONUS CD- original soundtrack album by Riz Ortolani newly remastered in stunning 24bit/96khz sound from the original studio master tapes
– Glossy 24-page booklet containing liner notes by director Eli Roth, legendary horror journalist Chas. Balun, Euro-music expert Gergely Hubai and Italian exploitation film authority Martin Biene
– Shocking reversible cover with original art by notorious illustrator Rick Melton
– Beautiful embossed slip cover
– 9 Easter eggs! – including the Grindhouse Releasing theatrical re-release premiere and Necrophagia music video directed by Jim VanBebber

If you can stomach the brutality, give this film a look for sure. But be warned: it’s been banned in several countries for a reason! This special edition set arrives on July 1st, so make a note.


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