Don't judge a book by its cover... It's much worse than the cover suggests.
"Eaten alive! The ultimate terror movie..."Cannibal Holocaust
(1980) is a controversial exploitation
directed by Ruggero Deodato, telling the tale of four documentarians who journey deep into the Amazon rainforest to film the indigenous tribes. When they fail to return, anthropologist Harold Monroe leads a second expedition to rescue the first group. He ultimately finds their lost cans of film, through which he learns of both what the filmmakers got up to during filming, and their grisly fate.
Controversy followed this infamous "video nasty
''; after its premiere in Italy, the film was seized and Deodato arrested on obscenity charges. He was later accused of making a snuff film
due to rumors that actors were killed on camera. While he was cleared on all charges, the film was banned in Italy, the UK
, Australia (where it was eventually passed uncut), and several other countries due to its graphic depiction of gore, sexual violence, and the inclusion of six genuine animal deaths.
In 1981 a rip-off was made by Umberto Lenzi called Cannibal Ferox
This film contains examples of:
- An Aesop: "I wonder who the real cannibals are?"
- The Amazon
- Apocalyptic Log: The first half of the film centers around finding the final footage of the film crew, the other half is the footage itself.
- Are We Getting This?
- Ax-Crazy: Alan Yates and, practically all the crew is this.
- Based on a Great Big Lie
- The young documentarian's work is an in-universe example.
- Black Comedy: Munroe's expression after his effort to exchange the documentary footage for his own recorder gets him invited for dinner by the cannibals instead.
- Black Dude Dies First: Felipe, the South American guide, is the first member of Yates' team to die.
- Cannibal Film: Probably one of, if not the most famous example.
- Captured by Cannibals: The entire second half of the film.
- Chased by Angry Natives: And the natives have a DAMN good reason to chase the film crew down!
- Contemptible Cover: While the DVD cover atop this page is tame, most posters instead focus on the infamous impalement scene.
- Covered in Gunge
- Crapsack World
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Obviously.
- Deadpan Snarker: Dr. Harold Monroe.
- Documentary Of Lies
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Subverted with Alan Yates. After Faye is captured by the cannibals and is being gang-raped, Alan Yates decides to abandon the film to save her...only for Mark to persuade him to continue on with the film without much effort and leave her to her fate.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Subverted. At first it seems that Faye, one of the crew members, objects to a young native woman being gang-raped. However she actually is just upset about wasting film footage for it.
- Played straight, to a degree, with the Yanomamo. They're a tribe of cannibals and warriors... and they sequester the film crew's film cans in a distant part of their village because they think it bears evil magic.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Horribly subverted when a monkey gets its face chopped off with a machete.
- Which is made even worse when you realize they killed a real monkey.
- Twice. They got a take wrong!!!
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Holocaust" means "destruction by fire;" there's a scene of Yacumo herded into a hut at gunpoint which is then burned down...
- Exploitation Film
- Extreme Melee Revenge
- Fan Disservice: Oh so much.
- Forever War: The Yanomamo and the Shamatari, the Tree People and the Swamp People respectively. These tribes have been going since the dawn of time and are still locked in a fierce war of rape, murder, and cannibalism.
- Found Footage Film: One of the most infamous of the genre.
- Genocide Backfire: Probably wasn't such a good idea to kill off the tribesmen and rape their women without thinking that they might want to get some payback for it.
- Gorn: Many scenes were believable enough (at the time) to result in the arrest of the director on suspicions that he'd made a snuff film.
- Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death
- Groin Attack
- Heal It With Fire: Averted. A wound cauterized with a hot machete, doesn't work.
- Humans Are Bastards: The main message of the film, conveyed with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
- Either that or "Mighty Whitey posturing, colonialist bigotry, exploitation of aboriginal people & genocide is bad, m'kay?".
- I'm a Humanitarian: Guess.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: One of the more famous images from the film shows a native girl impaled lengthwise so the point of the stake comes out her mouth. No points for guessing where it went in. The film leaves it ambiguous as to whether her own tribe killed her, or the film crew did.
- In-Universe Camera: The second half of the film.
- Karmic Death: To quote one review, "[the film crew] more than earned their fate."
- Kill 'em All: Although a Foregone Conclusion already, by the end of the film footage, every crew member of the documentary were killed off.
- Mad Artist: Yates shows strong signs of this.
- Made of Plasticine
- Mighty Whitey: Yates' team are arrogant enough to believe the natives fear their 'powers'. This doesn't stop them from being killed and eaten by the Yanomamo tribe.
- Ms. Fanservice
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The title of this movie.
- National Geographic Nudity
- No Animals Were Harmed: Averted; six genuine animal deaths are shown on-camera.
- Averted twice, in that the scene where they cut off a monkey's face with a machete was actually shot twice. You read that right.
- A coatimundi (mistaken as a muskrat in the film) has its jugular veins cut open by Miguel.
- A large turtle (about three feet long) is captured in the water and dragged to shore, where it is then decapitated and its limbs, shell, and entrails are removed. The turtle is then cooked and eaten.
- A large spider and a snake are killed with machete.
- A pig is kicked twice and then shot.
- Noble Savage: While not exactly the prime example of this trope, the natives are certainly not evil. They allow the search party to look for the film crew and as soon as they follow the rules and show respect to the tribe, they're welcome and accepted. The only reason they killed and ate the film crew was because they killed many of their tribesmen and raped one of their women.
- Politically Incorrect Villains: The film crew doesn't think highly of the natives.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Faye is upset at the rape of a native woman... because recording it is a waste of film footage.
- Peek-A-Boo Corpse
- Psycho Strings
- Rape and Revenge: While the film crew had done plenty of ugly things to the natives, the Yanomamo tribe finally set out to kill the filmmakers when one of their women is gang-raped by the crew, leading to one of the most horrific revenge scenes ever filmed.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The film crew burning down the Yacumo village to stage a scene for their documentary. In fact, all of the film crew's actions; in a literal way, they managed to score each of the three.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Yanomamo tribe in the end.
- The Savage South: Cannibals, dangerous animals, and diseases, oh my!
- Send in the Search Team: They find little to no remains of the film crew, but they find the footage.
- Snuff Film: The filmmakers were put on trial for murder until they could prove that, yes, the actors in question were still alive and well. In fact the producers had had it written in the main actors' contracts that they stay in hiding for an entire year to keep the illusion that they had indeed died as a publicity stunt.
- It was this for six animals, however (such a thing is known as a crush film).
- The Sociopath: Alan Yates and, likely, the rest of the film crew.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The lead motif is disturbingly serene and cheerful. And it is played during the burning of Yacumo village.
- The Hunter Becomes The Hunted
- This Is My Boom Stick: A spatial, rather than temporal, example.
- Torture Porn
- Tribal Carry: Jack and Faye in the end.
- Unbuilt Trope: Compared to the many, many horror films it inspired.
- Video Nasties: One of the better-known examples.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Then, all discretion is averted.
- Wacky Wayside Tribe
- Western Terrorists
- You Bastard: Isn't it convenient that every film that purports to be a critique about sensationalism is generally wildly sensationalistic?