By John Mathews
Cannibal holocaust was probably one of the most notorious films of the 20th century, it was in fact banned for over 25 years down here in Australia. I remember picking up a jbhifi catalogue back in 2005 and in complete and utter shock to read that it was getting an uncut release in Australia in a deluxe dvd set. I immediately picked it up and still stay strong to that release even til this day. 9 years later siren does the film justice once again in this stunning blu ray set.
So what is cannibal holocaust? Well if you are a hardcore horror fan you would already know, but to others; it is a found footage film. Now days we have hundreds of trashy found footage films, cannibal holocaust was the pioneer for the fake documentary genre.
The film opens with absolutely beautiful shots of the amazon river from the sky, most viewers would think they are about to watch some type of national geographic documentary.
The film starts off showing us New york city, here is when we are given a flashback and recap of the four young adults who have ventured out into the jungle. We then meet Harold Monroe, an anthropologist at New York University who agrees to look into the deaths of the four students. He ultimately goes to the amazon jungle where he tries to uncover the mystery of the what occurred; there appears to be a contrast of New York and the jungle, presenting no matter how advance we are cannibal societies still exist. Upon his endeavors he finally finds the footage and decides to have a screening on the final last days of the crew. It is very obvious that 'the blair witch project' took a large amount of inspiration into this. Once the screening begins we find the four students witness very barbaric acts, Ruggero Deodato does not shy away from the gore and that is what makes it such an effective piece of documentary filmmaking; we are convinced that a woman is having a piece of wood stabbed into her. We see some pretty horrific stuff so a warning to those who are offended by violence, there is a scene where a pregnant woman is essentially aborted and then killed. There is also animal cruelty, such as a turtle being graphically chopped up; but this is essential if you want to survive in the jungle, it adds to the overall authenticity.
The four eventually decent into madness and it reminded myself of Herzogs 'Aguirre, the Wrath of God' where the jungle is the place of insanity and makes men do evil acts. These acts include burning a village and the rape of a native girl, in a way the four deserve what they have coming for their acts to the villagers. Riz Ortolani score is perfectly blended over these scenes to help in the acts of evil, the soundtrack also makes us feel very emotional and distressed. The film continues to change back to the New york screening of the footage, seeing the audiences reactions in a way reflecting our own. There is an argument among the screeners discussing whether the footage should be shown to the public; it is very ironic as cannibal holocaust itself would be banned and cause public outcry. It is an intelligent film as it takes its subject matter very seriously, looking into bizarre societies, the white man colonization and public opinion.
There are so many more twists and turns along the way that I don't Want to spoil. It is a social satires that makes us question if we are any different to these civilisations? Unfortunately it was overlooked upon it's original release as another typical exploitation film that should be ignored and not seen by the general public. It has gained a much bigger appreciation with an open minded modern audience, gore/horror fanatics and documentary film fans. It is one truley that needs to be seen to be believed. It has to be seen in it uncut form, which thankfully siren visual presents here.
Video: siren visual present cannibal holocaust in it's original aspect ratio of 1:85:1, and it is the best it has ever looked. I was blown away by the 2005 dvd transfer, but this release is a true revelation. The opening shot of the amazon river had detail I didn't even notice before, various shrubbery stood out in the distance. The 35mm studio footage looks the best, these are any scenes apart from the lost footage. New York City looks crisp and clean, with detail in the buildings during daytime sequences. The indoor screening room of the footage has a vibrant gold that stands out. There is minimal print damage and scratch free, this is an extremely clean looking print, even more so than the dvd.
The 16mm lost footage is intentionally degraded with poor colouring, but this is how it is intended to look. It keeps the raw and gritty feel of the documentary, there are plenty of scratches; but that's the idea. In HD the list footage looks better than I expected, with great detail shown and rich black levels. The whole film has a natural grain layer over it, all in all it's fantastic and kudos to siren.
Audio: The soundtrack is the strongest aspect of the audio, riz's epic theme is rich and when blasted on the stereo it maintains it's sound with no vibrations. The electronic sounds of his score jump out with each beat and vibration. I can confidently say that it does justice to the score; the biggest aspect of the film. In terms of dialogue, obviously it was dubbed for an English market, the dub is very clear and dialogue is easy to understand.
- Regular version
This is the complete uncut version of the film, it is the one to watch to do justice to the film.
- Cruelty-free version
If your an animal lover this is the cut for you, although it maintains all the gore of humans; it removes any animal cruelty. This was also on the old DVD so I'm glad they left it.
- Dolby Digital stereo re-mix English language soundtrack
The new mix is the one to check out, even though the original mono mix accurately recreates the original theatrical experience.
- Original mono soundtrack
- Audio commentary by director Ruggero Deodato and star Robert Kerman
This is a very informative commentary as ruggero covers everything from the production to the controversy it caused in in the world. Both commentaries are very helpful.
- Audio commentary by stars Carl Yorke and Francesca Ciardi
- LAST ROAD TO HELL - alternate version (1:44) - SD
This is rather interesting, the documentary filmmakers made a short film within the film. It mainly consisted of death and the atrocities of man, this is an extended cut. Some versions of the film have this inserted but it appears as of ruggero himself did not want this in the final cut. This alternative scene is very rare with a lot of releases around the world missing it.
- ITALIAN TRAILER (3:06) (SD)
- GERMAN TRAILER (2:11) (SD)
- INTERNATIONAL TRAILER (3:06) (HD)
- US ORIGINAL RELEASE TRAILER (1:25) (HD)
- US RE-RELEASE TRAILER (1:55) (HD)
We get an array of trailers, it is interesting to see how it was marketed in various countries. Make note cannibal holocaust was only released in a few countries. The marketing respected it much more in Europe than America.
- RUGGERO DEODATO - RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE (58:24)
This interview is from 2011, it consists of ruggero discussing his 'rainforest trilogy' consisting of Last Cannibal World, Cannibal Holocaust, and finally Cut and Run. The production is greatly detailed and how it was financed. He also go into detail about why he decided to put in the animal cruelty and it is quite fascinating. He also goes on =to explain how the whole trilogy ultimately fits itself overall.
- ROBERT KERMAN EXPOSED (35:35)
This is an interview with the main lead, he goes into great detail about his love hate relationship with cannibal holocaust. Discussing the animal cruelty and how he got involved with the project.
- ALAN YATES UNCOVERED (56:12)"Documentary follows Gabriel Yorke, the actor turned Berkeley professor, who, after 25 years of silence, is finally willing to speak about his participation in the controversial film Cannibal Holocaust"
- FRANCESCA CIARDI – QUEEN OF THE CANNIBALS (38:15)
An in depth interview with italian actress Francesco Ciardi, she discusses how she got involved with the film and working with Ruggero on set.
A series of older and newer interviews are included:
- ROBERTO FORGES DAVANZATI: BLOOD ON THE CAMERA LENS (12:27)
- SALVO BASILE INTERVIEW, January 8, 2014, COLUMBIA (30:29)
- RIZ ORTOLANI INTERVIEW, APRIL 15, 2003, ROME (4:58)
- FRANCESCA Q&A GLASGOW, OCTOBER 2010 (11:12)
- RUGGERO DEODADO PANEL: CINEMA WASTELAND 2011 (28:17)
- YORKE AND DEODADO REUNION APRIL 18, 2009 (10:21)
- Production Stills
- Behind the Scenes
- Promotional Gallery
- VHS Gallery
The photo galleries are very cool, they cover all the content from the deleted scene of cannibals with a long stick called the so called "piranha scene", it was apparently never shot and has become quite an urban legend.
The Behind the scenes shows the set and actors, taking away from the who snuff urban legend to prove to us that this was a real production. The VHS gallery is fantastic for VHS nerd (like myself) who want to see the wide array of different Artwork that this received internationally.
Overall this is the most definitive version of Cannibal Holocaust ever released, it is uncut and comes in a beautiful DVD size case with a slipcover. Inside there is also a 24 page booklet. For fans of this film it has been unfortunate as the UK "Shameless" release was censored and the uncut italian Blu ray was missing an english dub.
It was worth the wait, well done Siren!
Overall: 4.5 (Buy it!)
Buy direct from Siren Visual:
Cannibal Holocaust - Blu-ray Special Edition