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Cannibal Holocaust

Cannibal Holocaust

By Patrick Samuel • October 2nd, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
United Artists

Original release: February 7th, 1980
Running time: 96 minutes

Director: Ruggero Deodato
Writer: Gianfranco Clerici

Cast: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Carl Gabriel Yorke, Perry Pirkanen

Cannibal Holocaust

It’s possibly the most notorious Video Nasty. Its name alone strikes terror, revulsion and a little bit of nausea deep within the throats of those who’ve never seen it. Yet, to be honest, it isn’t as bad as it seems, at least not if you’ve prepared yourself by first watching Cannibal Apocalypse (1980) and then Cannibal Ferox (1981). At least, that’s what I did and even though the images are quite brutal, I found Cannibal Holocaust had something to say rather than just something see, or hide from seeing as the case might be.

It’s a story told in two parts. We have a New York anthropologist, Professor Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman), who teams up with two local guides to go in search of a group of documentary filmmakers who’ve disappeared in the South American jungles. Once there, Monreo comes face to face with tribes the rest of the world have never seen before and witnesses some of their time honoured traditions, such as cannibalism. Unfortunately, he also comes across the remains of the filmmakers, as well as the footage they were shooting.

The second part of the story takes us to a different kind of jungle, where the local people are another breed of cannibals. In New York City, against the backdrop of the World Trade Center towers, we enter boardrooms and screening rooms with executives and studio bosses. As we view the filmmakers’ footage we begin to question who’s really barbaric here and sayings like “life in the big city can really chew you up and spit you out” come to mind. We see how these filmmakers first lost their souls before they lost their heads and everything else. It’s not just them who are eaten alive, in a way it’s anyone who falls under the executives and studio bosses here whose primary goal is high ratings converted to big cash.

Cannibal Holocaust

In light of the September 11th attacks, it’s always a startling and jarring experience to see the World Trade Center towers featured in films. We remember the images of the impact, subsequent collapse and the gaping hole it left in New York’s skyline and that’s perhaps why they had a much stronger effect on me here than the images of decapitation, disembowelment and general disfigurement of both human and animal bodies. As a result, the controversial aspect of the movie is put into perspective and through its horror it becomes a commentary on specific aspects of society. Whether primitive or civilised, they’re both rampant with cannibalism, one literal and one figurative.

It’s a thought provoking exercise in cinema and what Deodato’s given us might be hard to stomach but it’s definitely worth a look, followed by further discussion of how the insatiable need for the public to consume news, information and images goes hand in hand with the media and the entertainment industry’s equally insatiable need to continue supplying them. In the end, it’s Monroe who sums it up with “I wonder who the real cannibals are.”

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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