What is it about Ruggero Deodato’s vicious masterpiece that continues to elude horror fans and film enthusiasts to this day? Surely, it’s a shocking film with immense gore, but “Cannibal Holocaust” is about so much more than splatter and bloodshed. It still holds a volatile resonance in a day and age where the world is obsessed with voyeurism. “Cannibal Holocaust” is still such an enormous master work from Ruggero Deodato whose own film has pretty much guaranteed to outlive its creator. As well, it’s inadvertently posed as the template for all of the found footage films currently storming the box office. It’s a film about the media exploiting and demoralizing a primitive culture for the purposes of entertainment. It’s a film about entitled young Americans intruding on a foreign soil to manipulate their civilization. It’s also movie about how humanity is often a destructive and vicious force of evil consuming one another for nefarious purposes without conscience.
In a world where many are still infuriated at our whole ability to enter in to another civilization hoping to greeted as liberators or heroes, this particular theme rings loud within “Cannibal Holocaust” and is still a very painful bitter pill to swallow. Alan Yates and his friends disappeared two months prior, after traveling to South America to film a documentary about an elusive cannibal tribe. Professor Harold Monroe travels in to the jungles with an expedition group to find out what happened to Alan and if he and his friends are still alive. After discovering two tribes, the Yacumo and the Yanomamo, Monroe is shocked to find they are hospitable and friendly, and surprisingly enough are in possession of Alan’s reels of film. They keep it as a trophy among their high ranks, and Monroe miraculously convinces them to let him take it home. Upon watching the reels, Monroe learns an American station wants to air the footage as a documentary, and in protest, Monroe shows them the true content of the reels. What he reveals to them is not only shocking, but absolutely horrifying. Yet not in any manner either of them really suspect.
While many decry “Cannibal Holocaust” as a film merely created to shock and disturb audiences, Deodato injects so much subtext and commentary about the boldness and horrors of film that you can’t help be consumed by the narrative’s energy and dread from its opening title. Deodato composes a narrative that’s based on building audience expectations and preconceived notions, and then dashing them as he disseminates information. But it’s never the exact information we were waiting to process the entire time. By the end of the film we’re left with a strong sense of disgust, but not because of the unflinching gore, animal murders, and cannibalism that ensues. “Cannibal Holocaust” garners the familiar found footage formula, but its themes and narrative transcends any actual gimmicks or stunts. While the film itself masters the art of truly realistic special effects, it will also evoke conversations between audience members about the substance of the narrative and what could truly be learned by watching fate of Alan Yates and his fellow filmmakers come crashing down all around him. “Cannibal Holocaust” is controversial, surely, but it’s also a masterfully written tale about America, and the power of film.
The 3 Disc Blu-Ray Edition from Grindhouse Releasing is a fully packed and enormously in depth set for fans of the original film. There’s a fully reversible cover, and a book of liner notes from director Eli Roth and the late Chas Balun. There’s also a collector’s CD included that features the entire haunting score from the film. There’s a full disc for the film, and a disc for the Extras. Within the library of Extras, there’s a slew of full length interviews, including with director Ruggero Deodato. Within his three part interview, he discusses his horror trilogy leading in to “Cannibal Holocaust.” Among many of the respective and exhaustive interviews, there’s a half hour long interview with Robert Kerman, and an hour long interview with Karl Yorke, who plays the center of the film’s events Alan Yates.
There are eleven interviews total with the cast and crew, as well as a few featuring Deodato at certain points of the “Cannibal Holocaust” storm, and they all range from a half hour to ninety minutes in length, leaving no detail excluded about the filming of the movie, and the controversy that followed it. Finally there’s a library of stills, featuring Production Stills, Behind the Scenes Stills, Promotional posters and ads from countries like Germany and Italy, and finally ads and promos for video releases for the film in various iterations for the home video market. There’s also a press kit for the Mondo Cannibal premiere, as well as a promotional reel of trailers for releases from Grindhouse Releasing.