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Cannibal Holocaust

Year: 1980
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Much was made of the DVD release of this film, one in the large pantheon of films left to languish under five different names on VHS shelves for decades before the cult movement made them cool again.

And like some, this one shouldn't have been bought back, slickly packaged and marketed as 'previously banned'; it should have been left banned, the originals burnt. Apparently even the director's sorry he made it.

Almost no sort of cruelty, violence or gore upsets me in films, as I watch them on the presumption that everybody involved knew exactly what was happening and had given their consent. Even Heather O'Rourke playing Carol-Anne in Poltergeist had to know what was going on (most of scariest stuff would have been added in post production when she wasn't even there anyway).

But anything involving cruelty to animals I won't tolerate, which is the same reason I got about three minutes into Amores Perros and switched it off.

I know, you thought I was going to be talking about the iconic image of the native girl impaled on the spike. That's an interesting story in itself - apparently the producers found this girl who could sit on the bicycle seat that was on top of the spike with a piece of gore-streaked balsa wood sticking out of her mouth for ages while they were rolling.

I'm also not talking about the gratuitous rape scenes, both of the native girl by the film crew or the white girl from the film crew when the native tribes catch up with them.

Be warned; there are full frontal scenes of real animal killings. Not torture, but if you can stomach watching them drag an Amazon turtle onto a riverbank, tilt it back so it's neck's exposed and lop its head off with a machete, you're tougher than I am.

The plot deals with a professor who goes in search of a lost documentary crew into territory supposedly crawling with cannibal tribes. He finds their footage and brings it back to New York whereupon they discover how 'dispassionate' the film crew has been, razing villages, raping women and killing both natives and wildlife before their capture and brutal revenge by the tribes.

It's a bizarre structure that makes you wonder why they just didn't tell the story of the film crew, rather than the search for their lost footage. It really didn't accomplish anything but to tell us what happened as the professor and his colleagues watch the footage, which we could have watched by following the film crew's story anyway.

But if you like Z grade exploitation it'll be right up your alley.

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