Monday, September 9, 2013

I Wonder Who The Real Cannibals Are?

By Eric Polk-
Author's note: This is NOT an official entry into the Madness essay contest. I have not asked for nor will I receive any points for this.

                                            I Wonder Who The Real Cannibals Are?

The question that closes out Cannibal Holocaust is an intriguing one. Considering how much this movie should be reviled, actor Robert Kerman makes a salient point. Who are the real cannibals? Let's look at director Ruggero Deodato. He conceived the film with the intention that journalism integrity is at best an anachronism. Fair enough. Yet, this is a movie, a fictional piece of work. There are so many disgusting rape scenes in this film; I had to pause my DVD copy several times just to process this. You may ask, "Ok, Eric. Rape is rape. But what about in movies such as the original Last House on the Left or I Spit on Your Grave?"  In those films, the rapes were avenged. Here it's not.

Then we come to perhaps the most controversial aspect of this film: animal cruelty. Being a horror movie fan, I can handle depictions of almost any sort of kill scene. However, using real animals to satisfy authenticity is a line not needing to be crossed. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a PETA member and I eat meat, yet technology in 1980 was advanced enough to use perhaps animatronics or practical effects. Yes, it is a low-budget film but Deodato should have used his head.

To be truly fair and balanced, let's look at ourselves as horror movie fans. When we watch this film, can we really separate our own morality from what is going on on the screen?  Do we take such a perverse pleasure in rape and animal torture? I like to think we don't. We just love more direct, visceral sketches of violence, taking comfort in the fact that what you are seeing on screen isn't real. Unless it is.  Perhaps Ruggero Deodato purposely tapped into something to tug at our collective dark conscience and presented an unflinching slice of uncomfortable reality.

Nevertheless, I do feel you should watch Cannibal Holocaust at least once to test the bounds of your own morality even though its rape and animal cruelty make this film, in my opinion, one of the worst horror movies ever made. However, don't take my word for it. 

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