Shaun vs. Cannibal Holocaust (1979)

can1The next film in my series is a film I’ve avoided watching for years.  Considered one of the more controversial movies ever made, the violence portrayed in the movie came off as so real that the filmmakers were brought to court on charges of murdering their actors for nothing more than a snuff film.  While the actors were just fine, another controversy comes from the killing of real animals on film.  Because of all of this, the filmmakers claimed the movie was banned in over fifty countries.  Most countries have eventually relented and allowed its release but it’s still banned in some countries!  Get ready for a crazy film you probably won’t enjoy with an even crazier backstory that’s fun to tell!

Directed by Ruggero Deodato

Starring Robert Kerman, Carl Gabriel Yorke and Francesca Ciardi


A group of filmmakers go missing when they take off for a Peruvian jungle to film the locals.  A rescue party is sent in to see if they are still alive. They have to contend with several native tribes who happen to be cannibals.  They witness some shocking acts of violence on their way to finding the truth and even more afterwards.


I’ve read quite a bit about the movie before ever watching it for the first time tonight.  The real story behind the making of the film and beyond is even more interesting and crazy than the film itself, barely.  I’ll get into that in a bit after I go further into the film.

The film comes across as two smaller films.  The first half of the movie focuses on a rescue team who goes into an unknown jungle to find a group of filmmakers who have gone missing in the same area.  They run into wildlife and natives whose customs are very different, very naked compared to our ways.  They witness ritual rape, mutilation, horrifying violence and more.  They eventually come across the truth and find the footage the team had filmed before their untimely demise.

The second half of the movie focuses on that same team and what happened in the jungle.  The TV station they worked for intend to use the footage to release a documentary about the team going into the jungle and being mauled by savages.  Unfortunately the footage tells a very different story as to not only what happened but why. 

If I were to judge the movie on these ideas, it’s a bold and daring film that is just insane at times, especially given when the film was released.  It can be quite extreme at the best times but crosses lines at the worst of times.  I can put up with a lot of gore in a movie, I know it’s not real.  There is plenty of violence throughout Cannibal Holocaust but I said “nope” a lot of times when real animals were killed on screen.  Maybe not all of them are real, but some of them are, including the mutilation of a large turtle…and this wasn’t done by the natives.  Not cool.


You got something between your teeth.

The film is shot guerrilla-style, meaning you can expect a lot of shaky cam.  This film can be considered a precursor to the “found footage” genre that’s been the rage for the last while since the second half of the movie is about the documentary.  It adds a bit of needed authenticity to drive home the “based on a true story” angle they were advertising the movie as.  Of course, no one would think this movie was real, right?  Well it turns out some people did.

While the effects may look primitive in some scenes, back in the 70’s, this movie convinced enough people to charge the director and other filmmakers with the murder of some of the actors, believing the movie to be a snuff film and showing these actors legitimately killed on screen.  It got so bad they were in court and were going to be sentenced until the actors came out of hiding to say, “Hey, look, it’s a movie and we’re not dead!”  The filmmakers also showed how some of the effects were achieved.  They got off scott free…well almost.  The filmmakers were handed suspended sentences on obscenity charges.  The film was also banned in many countries and although most of them lightened up years later, it’s still banned in some countries like New Zealand.


You really don’t want to do that…

So in the end, the movie has a lot of balls and doesn’t mind showing them to you.  You have to know what you’re getting into in this movie as it’s not something you’re likely to enjoy.  I did enjoy the presentation of the movie and the story it was trying to tell, but the overall package is not something I’m not really happy with seeing and will likely not see again. 


Story: 7 – The core of the story being told and its presentation are reasons to see the movie!  It’s just an unpleasant watch for the most part.

Blood: 10 – I think I could make a shorter list of things that didn’t happen in the movie.  Animals murdered, bodies mutilated, sex organs mutilated, stabbing, gunshot wounds and oh yeah, cannibals eating human innards.

Nudity: 10 – Yup, there’s nudity everywhere.  The natives are definitely nude all of the time, even white guys and gals strut their stuff on camera.  Might as well go all out, eh?  Too bad “all out” includes not one but several rape scenes.  Bleh.

Overall: 6 – Cannibal Holocaust has quite the history and plenty of crazy, behind the scenes stories to be told.  The movie does what it does well, it comes off very extreme and disturbing to unsettle the audience.  You probably won’t enjoy what you see.


-The two native tribes featured in the film are not the violent cannibals they are portrayed as.

-The natives talked the director out of using fake monkey brains for the monkey brain eating scene.  They like monkey brains!

-Robert Kerman was trying to breakout from his porn days but Cannibal Holocaust ruined it for him so he went back to bow-chicka-wow-wow.

-Second highest grossing film in Japan in 1983…behind E.T.

1 reply »

  1. Holy shit, Japan made this movie money? I wonder if Takashi Miike got inspiration from this film. Also, when I was in 6th grade and this movie was for rent at the local movie store, I was told it was a legitimate documentary. I’m glad to know it isn’t and that I’ve never seen it.


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