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YMMV / Cannibal Holocaust

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  • Acceptable Targets: Deconstructed - the film crew and executives treat the natives as this because of their different culture.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Mark's father, was his assessment of his son truth? Or a reflection of his feelings on his sons profession? Or was it the words of a grieving father angered about having a camera thrown in his face with no regard for his loss and just said what he felt they were hoping he would say in the name of sensationalism?
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  • Awesome Moments: As gruesome as the climax is, it's definitely satisfying to see the natives finally fight back against the film crew. After they kill Jack, the others lose all of their supplies including their guns. It wasn't a matter of if but when the natives would finally put them down.
  • Awesome Music: It has a very surreal and disturbing effect when underscoring the horrors onscreen, but the main theme by Riz Ortolani is quite beautiful out of context.
  • Broken Base: This film has a seriously divided reception among cinephiles (for pretty obvious reasons). It is either:
    • A highly disturbing but insightful and eye-opening commentary on the topic of media sensationalism and Western imperialism.
    • A trashy and hypocritical Exploitation Film with an Idiot Plot that is not saved by horrendously bad acting and gratuitous scenes of very real animal cruelty.
  • Catharsis Factor: After seeing Alan Yates and his crew committing all the horrible atrocities for their documentary, watching the natives slaughter them in the most brutal way imaginable in retaliation is arguably the best thing about this movie.
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  • Complete Monster: Alan Yates is a traveling filmmaker with a sadistic streak. Not above staging events for his documentaries, Yates and his crew embark to South America in search of cannibalistic indigenous tribes. When Jack wounds a Yacumo man, they follow him to his village. Once there, Yates forces the tribe into a single hut and sets it ablaze. Locating the Yanomamo, or Tree People, Yates and his crew take advantage of the fact that the tribe wouldn't attack them lest provoked by partaking in filming themselves gang-raping a helpless Yanamomo woman. When they later learn that she had been impaledcrotch-first— as punishment by the natives, Yates—unfazed by the sight before him—is thrilled by what he had done. He also has no qualms with sacrificing his own crew when it suits him as he shoots Jack so that he could film the vengeful tribe desecrating his body. Xenophobic, sociopathic, deceitful and desiring fame above all else, Monroe puts it best when he wonders who were the real cannibals.
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  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Cannibal Holocaust is known for criticizing sensationalism while being highly sensationalistic.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Alan's a very handsome man, but he's also a complete psychopath.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: This was the second highest-grossing film of 1983 in Japan after E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The Reality Subtext of outsiders (allegedly even including professional researchers that are supposed to be authentically documenting the peoples they encounter) engaging in ethically dubious activities, committing human rights abuses and contributing to patterns of conflict that devastate the Yąnomamö and other indigenous communities.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Yates and his crew cross this line when they herd a group of natives into a hut and set it on fire so they can get shocking footage for their documentary. And the final straw that earns them their fate is when they rape a native Yanomamo woman.
  • Narm: The opening scene where the natives are being shot to death is no doubt intended to be serious, but it just looks goofy.
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • Alan Yates and his crew being devoured by the cannibals.
    • The scene where the turtle is killed and has its shell taken off also counts. And no special effects were used for that. The actor was forced to actually do that and broke down crying over it.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: To a degree which forced Deodato and the actors to explain that it's not a Snuff Film.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The crew members decapitating and evisceration a large turtle is often regarded as the most horrifying scene in the whole film (which is a saying a LOT).
    • The impalement scene, to the point that it was even used as the front cover for some releases.
  • Special Effect Failure: Faye's decapitated head is clearly a mannequin's head (the wig even falls off).
  • Squick: Too many moments to count. We got graphic on-screen gang rapes, a coati having a knife jammed in its torso, a woman impaled onto a spike through her anus, one of the crew members having his penis cut off and is literally torn apart by the cannibals, and the aforementioned turtle dismemberment.
  • Tear Jerker: For many people, the Turtle scene, the sad music doesn't help, and the fact that it was a real turtle being killed made matters worse.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: A major contributor to the film's divisive reception is the distinct lack of likeable characters (except for Dr. Monroe) and the fact that most of them get killed off in particularly gruesome ways. As Dr. Monroe so eloquently puts it: "I wonder who the real cannibals are." Then again, this is clearly intentional on Ruggero Deodato's part.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The Yanomami tribesmen had every right to be upset with Yates and his crew, but they still don't exactly come off much better than any of them in spite of the film's attempts to portray the tribesmen in a sympathetic light.
  • Vindicated by History: Much of the social commentary put forth by the film is more relevant now than when it was made, and the stomach-turning gore effects have aged surprisingly well— the authentic animal cruelty notwithstanding.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: You know that a horror movie had great special effects when for a long time, people thought that the onscreen human deaths were real— including authorities who arrested the director over them! Averted with the animal deaths, however, which actually were real.


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