- Gareth Crook
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
I’m out of my depth here really. This stuff isn’t my thing. I don’t really do horror, the gory kind at least. I’m not sure what to expect of a film called Cannibal Holocaust, but I’ve heard the name in passing over the years, suggesting that there’s possibly something of worth? In I go. To begin it comes off as the shock chasing nonsense I feared. A group of four young American documentarians head into the Amazon with cameras. They don’t come back. We follow the rescue party trying to find them. A bunch of machine gun wielding yahoos in fatigues. It’s not gonna go well is it. Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman) is an American anthropologist heading the rescue, he’s joined by drugged fuelled jungle expert and macho arsehole Chaco (Salvatore Bastile), they make quite a pair as they track through the trees, rivers and marshes, occupied by tribes of cannibals. There’s a lot of ritualistic killing and the body count is high. It’s pretty grim, with rape and murder in almost every other scene for the first half hour. Not to mention some shocking scenes of animal cruelty. Monroe takes on a documentarian role himself as it become clear the original crew are now nothing more than bones. With an hour to go, I’m getting pretty bored. The acting is questionable and there’s zero nuance. No real sense of danger, just lots of pretty rubbish looking gore. To be honest I’m quite thankful. Something like this made now, would look horrifically realistic and I’d be turning it off. Then the whole thing pitches slightly. On his return to America with some of the groups footage, Monroe picks through what might’ve happened to them. It’s got a found footage sort of feel to it and does start to show some promise. It becomes much more about who the real savages are as we discover that the original group of documentarians are complete pricks, terrorising and orchestrating things for the own narrative. They deserved to get eaten! It is what it is, the definition of the video nasty craze it belonged to. There’s no artistic merit and it’s got to be one of the least entertaining 90 minutes I’ve endured. Yes it is genuinely shocking. It’s exceptionally gory and voyeuristic, but mostly it’s just utter crap and I’m glad when it’s finally over. It may be a notorious film title, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good.