CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) – The Dungeon Review!

‘Cannibal Holocaust’ is yet another infamously grotesque Italian offering banned in X number of countries. This one however, lives up to the hype. The film is done like a documentary and the kills look so real and disturbing that just days after the film premiered in Italy it was seized by the courts and director Ruggero Deodato was arrested and charged with murder. He literally had to present the actors that played the fictional film crew to prove his innocence. You can’t beat that kind of press to promote your horror flick!

A four-person film crew fails to return from a documentary shoot on a remote island. A university professor is recruited by a television network to conduct a rescue mission. The journey recovers the film footage shot by the crew, which captures the deplorable actions of the quartet and their inevitable deaths.

The first half of the film is the professor’s mission. Although there are some harsh and intense moments, the real severe sections are in the second half when we watch the recovered footage of the film crew. The professor has hired a guide who helps him navigate the island. He manages to get the natives to trust him and acquires the film through diplomatic means. In direct contrast we have the four young, arrogant, sick and twisted fucks that want nothing more than to become infamous. They are considerably less than courteous to their hosts, at one point they set one of their large huts on fire with several people inside to get themselves a “money shot”. One of the more subtle disturbing character traits of the crew’s leader can be seen when he comes in contact with a woman impaled on a pole. His face lights up with utter joy at the sight of this atrocity knowing full well how awesome it will look on film. The two opposing island experiences make for some interesting commentary. A comment is made by the professor at the end of the film, something to the effect of “Who are the real monsters here?” There is no mistaking that Deodato has some commentary to make, particularly where it relates to the media. By no means am I comparing the film ‘Network’ to ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ but the message is similar. Unlike the vast majority of other cannibal films in existence, this one presents its material in a deadly serious tone and no levity whatsoever is afforded to the viewer. It is one of the very few, if not the only film from this sub-genre that is interesting and thoughtful enough to earn any serious critical examination. Deodato depicts his fictional natives as brutal cannibals and throws in a whole lot of animal snuff to keep the vomit quotient high. Make no mistake about it, commentary or not, this is a completely exploitative film.

Animals are killed in graphic displays clearly intended to keep the gross out factor high in between the human violence. These killings are REAL! This is the one massive issue I have with this film and others of its sub-genre. These kills are callous and obscene and are nothing more than animal snuff. I am not ashamed to tell you, not only did I look away, but at one point, I had to turn the film off and take a break from it for a few minutes. I read that the first shot of a monkey killed didn’t work out and they had to kill a second monkey. Wow, that is just fucking awesome! The actual killing of animals for the sake of entertainment is repulsive to me. Apparently there is an edited version where all the animal violence is taken out. Unfortunately I understand that most of the other film violence is also removed. I can’t imagine not being given the satisfaction of seeing the four monster filmmaker’s deaths in all of their glory. Even though I find the animal deaths disturbing I couldn’t bring myself to watch a heavily censored horror film, I think I would just take a pass.

With that strong stance you would think I was going to tear this film a new asshole, but I really can’t. As a lifelong horror fan and someone who appreciates gore, effects, atmosphere and great soundtracks I have to give this film its due. As a director, Deodato is not without talent. The cinematography is impressive and the atmosphere is convincingly doom and gloomy. It is ugly, gritty and frighteningly realistic. The scenes of gore are simply amazing. The image so many associate with this film is a cannibal girl impaled on a pole. The scene was achieved by having the girl balance on a bicycle seat attached to the pole while holding a piece of wood in her mouth. Blood was added and you have pure horror Brilliance! Deodato comes up with some truly sick and disturbing concepts along the way. The vaginal mutilation punishment for an adulteress native woman is sick beyond belief. So sick in fact that it would seem that none of the native women were willing to do it so they covered a female crewmember with mud. Although the scene worked on a grotesque level, it is obvious that it is a white woman. Other than this muddy white woman pretending to be a native, there isn’t a single scene in the entire film that looks hokey or fake. Although it is clear that things did not turn out so well for the missing film crew, there really are few hints as to their true nature. The TV network, which plan on showing the world the found footage of the film crew also interview the friends and family of the quartet. I thought this was an interesting way to give the viewer more insight on the group without softening the blow. There are no punches pulled and all parties are viewed under a pretty damn unflattering light, with the exception of the professor, who is the moral voice of reason in ‘Cannibal Holocaust’. Although the film is extremely brutal, gore levels are relatively low compared to other horror films, by no means does this make it any less nasty. The thing I admire about ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ the most is the kick ass, killer and completely fucked up soundtrack from Riz Ortolani. The sweet string inspired compositions almost legitimize the harrowing action onscreen. This is easily one of the most disturbing and effective soundtracks ever made for a horror film!

‘Cannibal Holocaust’ is a well-made, fascinating, brutal and disturbing film. It is without a doubt the best of the cannibal films and one of the most biting films to come out of Italy during the period. Let me be clear, I don’t plan on EVER watching this film again, but I am nonetheless giving this film a recommendation with a severe warning! This film contains the brutal and graphic killing of real animals specifically for the purpose of entertainment! Rent it at your own risk.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Ruggero Deodato

Starring: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, Luca Barbareschi, Salvatore Basile, Ricardo Fuentes, Carl Gabriel Yorke, Paolo Paoloni, Lionello Pio Di Savoia

55 Responses to “CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. hagiblog Says:

    I found this film didn’t live up to the hype my friend gave it. Assuring me that it was the sickest movie ever made I had to watch. I didn’t find it very disturbing at all but it seems to be the killing of the animals that really bothers everyone. Since that didn’t really bother me the film didn’t have the same impact.

    It’s effective at what it does but didn’t work for me.

    • goregirl Says:

      Hagi, although I did find the animal kiling unwatchable it wasn’t the reason I found the film disturbing. Deodato has a style to be sure, and it isn’t just the onscreen violence that makes his films challenging. For me, it is very much his commentary. Onscreen violence is a secondary element of his films. Having seen his film ‘House On The edge The Park’ recently I have to say I got the same vibe. His work conatins a very ugly, brutality that makes me feel guilty about being a human. Truth be told both ‘Cannibal’ and ‘House’ have a low body count and you can certainly find gorier entries. It is what bubbles underneath the surface that makes his films effective for me.

  2. I agree with ya goregirl … out of all the Italian cannibal flicks this is the only one that has something to say. Deodato’s critique of the media and the media’s relationship to violence couldn’t be more relevant today. The real killing of animals is indefendable, but Deodato certainly gave us a chillingly effective flick that will stay with you for a long time!!

    Great review!!

    • goregirl Says:

      Scott, you are so right, I wish I had mentioned that in my review. His commentary is as relevant today as it was then. The media now is more whorey than ever!

  3. As I said, this is the one horror movie I’m afraid to watch. Having read your review, I still don’t know what to do! 🙂

  4. Great review of a difficult film. You really get at what makes it an exploitation classic, and nice shout-out to the amazing score.

  5. OMG!! I CANT NOT BELIEVE THAT HAS HAPPEN TO THOUSANDS OF WOMEN AND MEN, I JUST DONT UNDERSTAND HOW SOMEBODY CAN HAVE SUCH A SICK MIND, TO EVEN THINK OF DOING SOMETHING LIKE THAT!

  6. Keith Lamb Says:

    SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET. I LIVE IN LEESBURG OHIO… I’m a GAY KID…

  7. Jimbo85uk Says:

    Probably one of my all time favourite exploitation gore films. I too myself find the animal butchery scenes very hard to watch, being an animal lover and all. As for the rapes and village burning, as hardcore as it is. Didn’t seem to effect me as much, as at the end of the day, you know deep down it’s not real. But meh, maybe i’ve just been desensitized from all the ‘shit’ i’ve seen over the years. But anyway, still one of my all time faves and one of the films to get me really hooked into gore movies.

    Regards, Jimbo.

  8. Jimbo85uk Says:

    Oh and of course, another good review!

  9. I want to see this movie, im excited by seeing the pics below were shall i see this movie

  10. this is just sick

  11. stephanie Says:

    wow why would u make a website out of these discomfiting pictures?

  12. marlina Says:

    eeeeeeeeew cant belive dat

  13. wtf is wrong with u some fuked up sick shit on here! but kinda cool aya lol

  14. This is absoloutley ridiculous!

  15. […] Cannibal Holocaust is a well-made, fascinating, brutal and disturbing film. I think it’s the best of the cannibal films and one of the most biting films to come out of Italy during the period. If the film didn’t contain the brutal and graphic killing of animals I would definitely rate it higher. To read my review click here. […]

  16. Brian Foley Says:

    This movie was not all that good, the scenes of animal cruelty were completely unnecessary and the cannibal eating scenes gross and story flat.

  17. Bean here. I find this documentary to kill people and animals. Perhaps the director should be shot and all. After all, we cant going around impaling people now can we?

    —Bean

  18. maybe it is not that effective to the viewers of today’s generation because of the big difference between the level of filmmaking during that period. we are in the virtual age right now and the film was made in the 80’s.
    but to some it really is bothering because of the actual killing of animals given the fact that active campaign on animal welfare in being done all around the globe to save these animals for the next generation of mankind to still have the privilege of watching these animals in their natural habitat.
    it is up to each viewer to describe the real intensity of the film according to which point of view they will consider, of yesterday’s, today’s or to the point of view of our future generations.

    God Bless,
    RCboy aka “Swagger”
    Animal Science Student

  19. Baby Gurl 666 Says:

    Thats fucking gross :(.. who would even like something like this..fuckin nasty ass ppl is what yall are!!!!!!!

  20. Krista Connolly Says:

    you enjoy strange things and have a sick sense of what is entertainment

  21. shelly bibbed Says:

    you people are sooooooo wrong what is the matter with you?!?! Thanks for making me puke on the schools property and making me pay for the dang computer!!

  22. That is absolutely terrible. I am in all time Animal Lover. The fact that they are killing actual animals for the sake of entertainment should be illegal in whichever country this film was made in as it is illegal to harm any animals in the United States.

    CURSE THIS DIRECTOR IN ALLOWING BRUTAL ANIMAL KLLINGS.
    It’s bad enough that they actually kill them, and they make it worse by torturingly kill them. Instead of a fast, painless death.

    Director Ruggero should be in jail as the court first had him. He may have not killed any people, but killing animals is still a CRIME!!!! >.<

  23. This movie has nothing on Snuff 102 or Serbian Film. There is a lot worse than this old junk.

  24. GREAT MOVIE AND SCORE
    ABSOLUTE EXPERIENCE
    ONE AND ONLY

  25. kenziiBabes Says:

    ok when i first saw this picture i cried and i wondered who in the world could DO something like this.?? my friend was with e at the time i saw the picture and later that day tried to tell meit was fake, and i didnt believe him because i thought he did what my parents did when i was little, (say something was fake so i wasnt scared or upset anymore) but now that i have read this review for a MOVIE haha i feel so stupid and now i know of one movie that i will absolutely NEVER watch!(: haha
    thanks!
    (no sarcasm intended.)

  26. i fuken hate u all, wat the fuck is wrong with u hoes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Amandabiglips:P Says:

    i love this movie i mean to capture how a village is and to embrase the native side its just impectable and i adore it.

  28. I don’t think the picture of your five inch penis should be showing. Not only is it wrong, but what if a little kid got on here and saw it. Yes, sooner or later their going to have to find out about this, but all the kids are growing up now days and people like you are the reason.. Maybe you should put a block on here or put in big BOLD letters that ” SOME MATERIAL ON THIS PAGE MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR KIDS UNDER 18!”
    – Get a grip on reality and wake up and notice you have one life, so live it wisely.

  29. ** Well a picture of someone’s five inch penis. **

  30. walker Says:

    this is not cool this sick and the people who say dat this is cool yall should feel bad for urselves

  31. you are just a bunch of sick fucks who need to be put in gas chambers or shot in the back of the head, im suprised people allow you too breathe the same air as us. im quite sure your a bunch of pedophiles or something much worse along those lines. sick fucks like you people who watch and craze for movies along these lines are whacked out.

  32. Cristal Says:

    i do not like horror films, but the fact that the director was charged for murder, makes it seem like an amazing movie for horror film lovers. even if you are a bit twisted in the head. . .

  33. babyGurl Says:

    WOW!

  34. wow, this is creeppppyyy. the people who like this are creeppyy creepps who enjoy canibals ur weird

  35. AlexDaRipper Says:

    I was talking with my grampa and he said the movie wasnt that scary p.s. he saw the movie in 1982 😀

  36. wtf..lol

  37. Çorba Tarifleri…

    […]CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) – The Dungeon Review! « GOREGIRL'S DUNGEON[…]…

  38. TechnicolorSilence Says:

    I’m laughing at some of these comments that read “eww yall r sik ppl” and whatnot. You clearly don’t understand the concept of this page. It’s a movie review. You’re the odd one out here. N00bs. :3
    Anyway…
    I’ve never seen this movie and probably never will (animal killings plus my only time to watch being night equals nightmares), but I’d love to see a clip or two. I wouldn’t want to see the edited version, like you said. I love the deaths of people in movies, especially when they’re assholes. Nevertheless, the animal killings would be too heavy on my conscience. Kudos to you, though, in making it through the movie and passing on your knowledge to those who are too scared to watch it (like myself). xD

    • Thanks Tech. I think students working on some manner of holocaust project found me. Frankly I never get this many comments on my posts. Never mind this many daft comments! I’m glad that someone happen upon the review who was actually interested in reading it. Cheers! 😉

  39. i did not like wat they did. its just so sad and rude.

  40. that so nasty to see that.

  41. […] Yep. Another commenter balled me out for showing a penis. You can read all of the lovely comments for this one by clicking HERE. […]

  42. I chose my review of ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ as my most controversial too! People are probably going to think I’m sick for saying it but I absolutely love ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ and I had the good fortune to stumble upon a pristine and rare two-disc DVD set that came with a poster in Italian. It is the crown jewel of my exploitation collection.

    I find the film to be extremely intelligent and incredibly well made. I do not approve of the animal violence the film gleefully serves up (I’m a dog owner and it made me sick to my stomach) but I just try to overlook it. The behind the scenes tidbits are absolutely fascinating and the fact that this movie caused this much of a stir when it was release is beyond interesting. It even coaxed my 63 year old mother into watching it one afternoon and she found it to be extremely interesting.

    Great write-up Goregirl. I loved hearing your point of view on this controversial film. If you’d like to read my review of it, click the link.

    http://antifilmschoolsite.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/cannibal-holocaust-1980/

  43. jack marc Says:

    yall are naste and dumb ass

  44. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is a great film and an important one in the history of the horror genre. No CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, no BLAIR WITCH or any found footage horror flicks (wait; that may be a good thing!!). The film broke barriers, pushed the envelop, had absolutely stunning special f/x, and every year it’s one of the most downloaded horror films from the web (unfortunately Deodata doesn’t get any $$ for it).

    The fact that Goregirl wrote this review back in March 201o and we’re STILL leaving comments on this posting says it all … good or bad. There is no such thing as “bad press”!!

    Awesome review Goregirl!!

  45. Your excellent review of Nightmare City made me realize I had missed your thoughts on this infamous film. Another great review,and wow,some of those responses! It’s a film difficult to watch at times,but still an effective “message” exploitation film. I would agree that the media’s almost perverse obession with tragic,violent news stories is worse now than when this film was made. The actor playing the professor,Robert Kerman, pops up in both Eaten Alive and Cannibal Ferox. Kerman made hardcore porn in the 1970’s and 80’s using the name R. Bolla,among others,so the lady sqeamish about the penis pic should avoid those films at all costs. Although the animals killed in the film were used as food for the natives,Deodata now regrets having them killed in the movie. Whew. : )

  46. I will tweet this article

  47. […] Goregirl from Goregirl’s Dungeon reviewed Cannibal Holocaust […]

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