February 05, 2006

BANNED ! CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1979) REVIEW 1 PART 1

Launching our first review is considered, by some, the most seminal work of the exploitation genre.

A heady cocktail of animal slaughter, cannibalism, rape, penile and vaginal mutilation and a nasty ‘social surgery sequence’ involving a pregnant woman that disturbs and uncomforts. As the pregnancy was not within the constraints of tribal approval the woman’s foetus is yanked from her womb, and consequently buried in mud ; her head is then bashed in with jagged pieces of stone.

Such breathtaking visions litter this amazing testimony of gruel. Most aficionados of the genre will look to the heaven and mumble something like ‘not another Cannibal Holocaust review’ , but aficionados you must agree such an important milestone deserves all the kudos it deserves, for bare assed cheek if for nothing else ?

For those uninitiated and curious here is the plot……

THE PLOT

Professor Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman, late 70’s hardcore actor and Bambi Woods (Debs Does Dallas) conquest), respected anthropologist tries to uncover the truth surrounding the disappearances of a group of ‘Mondo’ directors after they vanish in the Amazon.

His investigation leads him to uncharted territory deservedly referred to as ‘The Green inferno’. After taking part in and being genuinely repulsed by cannibal customs and rituals our Professor stumbles across the Holy Grail – cans of 16mm footage, with a narrow escape he manages to bring the revelations to New York City. A bold television station is willing to screen the ‘whatever happened to….’ documentary but would like a preview.

What the studio reveals through preview, sickens, appals and shocks the bigwigs at the station so much that the prints are requested to be incinerated at the behest of all involved.

CRITIC

What we witness is a troubling insight into the true nature of western humanity and an aspect that connects humans so strongly – Greed. Greed for power, greed for the control of life and death, greed for sensationalism and the powerful rush of the ultimate thrill.

It’s these darkest aspects that lead to the rape and dismemberment of the filmmakers; and quite honestly they deserved it. Maybe the women was a little short changed but definitely the male entourage were most deserved, the blonde guy wasn’t a tribal favourite was he? Boy does he cop some !!!! We can finally see the act of making 'mincemeat' out of someone rather than threatening pravado !

As reported throughout history we have insight into what happens when we the allegedly 'civilised' western civilisation force their conflicting ideals and conditions to a group of indigenous tribes’ people.

The whole dark undercurrent of violence runs throughout until the final wholesale slaughter of the main ‘snuff - bait’ protagonists - Alan Yates, Faye Daniels, Jack Anders and Marc Tomasso.

The ‘warts and all’ technique of scratching, warping and temporarily distorting the image adds to the whole taboo cinema-verite nightmare. Deodato uses this method of justified vandalism enough to crank up on the ‘snuff’ visualisation causing discomforting realism but not so many times it pisses you off. An effect ‘stolen’ and used to great publicity in the fairly recent atrocity ‘Blair Witch Project’. Although full credit should not go to Deodato as snuff thematics appeared two to three years before in D’Amato’s grade A sinema masterpiece ‘Emanuelle in America’.

The movie also emerged at a time Italy was in a bit of a two and eight. Their Prime Minister Aldo Moro had been assassinated. The Red Brigade was also causing major fear and widespread distress in the country too. Although we could hypothesise about these instances and wonder whether there is any significant social contribution to the films nihilistic atmosphere, I doubt it. Last House on the Left was allegedly inspired by the bubbling cauldron of Vietnam horror but I have, so far, never heard Deodato mention any of his native countries contemporary headaches being a favourable contributor of infuence.

What I am aware of is Deodato trying to make a few honest Liras; this he definitely achieved. The movie was made for approximately $100,000; this was far out grossed by the movies box office takings no doubt spurned on by the films notoriety.

In the beginning it wasn't an easy ride as the director and production people were taken to court charged with murder, as the main protagonists were considered to have died in real life ! The courts belived the footage in the movie to be all real. It was then down to Deodato at al to locate the actors and actresses involved; proving there was no ‘snuffing out’ of actresses and actors . The pole girl also revealed herself to be happily in existence much to the courts disappointment in this farce.

There were further charges of animal cruelty based on a rather peculiar guinea pig laws which were ultimately the basis of eventual prosecution. The director was consequently fined and sent home, case closed, court embarrassed.

Delays meant the release being held back in Italy until 1983.

This always seemed to add to the movies grittiness. Notoriety laden then, just as it is now. An echo from the late 1970’s to the future , in our times now where we are obsessed with the power of realism, the wonder of realism and the extremities of realism........


0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home