Cannibal Holocaust (1980) | Ruggero Deodato | Italy | Video nasty 14 of 72
Cannibal Holocaust is a 1980 Italian cannibal film. Influenced by the works of Mondo director Gualtiero Jacopetti, the film was inspired by Italian media coverage of Red Brigade terrorism. The coverage included news reports Deodato believed to be staged, an idea which became an integral aspect of the film’s story. Cannibal Holocaust was filmed primarily in the Amazon Rainforest with real indigenous tribes interacting with American and Italian actors.
Critics remain split on their stances of Cannibal Holocaust. Supporters of the film cite it as a serious and well-made social commentary on the modern world. Detractors, however, criticize the acting, the over-the-top gore, and the genuine animal slayings and point to an alleged hypocrisy that the film presents.
Cannibal Holocaust also faced censorship issues in other countries around the world. In 1981, video releases were not required to pass before the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which had power to ban films in the UK. Cannibal Holocaust was released straight-to-video there, thus circumventing the possible banning of the film. In 1983, the Department of Public Prosecutions compiled a list of 72 video releases that were not brought before the BBFC for certification and declared them prosecutable for obscenity. This list of “video nasties” included Cannibal Holocaust, which was successfully prosecuted and banned. In 2011, after numerous versions with extensive mandated cuts had been released in years prior, the BBFC waived all but one of their previous edits, passing Cannibal Holocaust with 15 seconds of cuts. It was determined that the only scene that breached the BBFC’s guidelines was the killing of a coatimundi, and the BBFC acknowledged that previous cuts were reactionary to the film’s reputation. (x)