A Hearty Meal?

I originally planned this for last Thursday…because what honors the victims of 9/11 more than Italian Cannibal movies from the 70’s?

Then I thought maybe that was not as brilliant of a topic for “Patriot Day” as I initially thought.

Anyways, my Netflix queue goes in phases, so to speak.  For awhile it will be packed with documentaries, or foreign films, or mysteries and so on.  Awhile back, I noticed they (Netflix) had a lot o the more notorious Italian Cannibal films of the late 70s, such as Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Holocaust.  Truthfully, cannibal films hold little (if any) interest to me.  Now, mind you, this is not like zombie or mob films where I claim no interest in the genre, and yet really enjoy several movies from the genre.

No, movies about people getting eaten by people who are not undead or some other monster hold no interest for me.  But the notoriety of these films admittedly, does intrigue me.  If people claim a movie is simply lame, I don’t really think much, maybe I will check it out, maybe I won’t.  Declare a movie evil or morally repugnant?  My curiosity is piqued.

So, I added a few cannibal movies to the Netflix queue.  The end result is that I find the film poorly written, plotted in a rather silly fashion, racist, crossing well past the line of good taste (oh, the puns) and generally not very exciting.  The following will be up front and graphic.  While I am trying to keep this posting light, there are aspects of this genre that I cannot overlook, and would rather a reader be forewarned should they decide they are going to see these films.

I actually fell asleep somewhere early into Cannibal Holocaust, which is done in a faux documentary style.  It has fictional characters mind you, but the films conceit it that an anthropologist or something is watching recovered footage.   The footage features four young documentarians who go deep in the rain forest and get eaten.  I dreamed, oddly enough an entirely different film-with the same characters-except Bruce Willis was in it, and the jungle was actually inside a skyscraper.   Then I woke up in time for the finale, I am pretty sure my dream was going to have a better ending.

Cannibal Ferox was about four drug dealers on the run who get their comeuppance via cannibals.  I don’t remember this one much, as, again, I fell asleep several times.  I watched a few others and they all seem to follow the same storyline.

What I did manage to stay awake for was to get this much.  People, Hostel and Saw have nothing on these films.  No-thing.  I do not say that lightly, but the grandparents of torture porn films happen to be much “wilder” than their grandchildren.  Heck, Saw and Hostel and Touristas all look like thoughtful meditations in comparison.  The cannibal films of the 70’s all go like this.  Meet our cast.  More than likely they are thoughtless, selfish louts with no respect for anyone but themselves.  For some reason or another, they go into the deep jungle of a place such as the Amazon.  There, they run afoul of the natives.  Either they tease the natives before pissing the natives off, or they just get chased until the natives trap them.  Then the natives lock them in cages and torture each captive, one by one.

One thing that really stands out is the constant of how said torture usually involves rape and sexual mutilation.  Not just for the women.  While not raped, the men invariably suffer horrible and graphic destruction to their genitals (yeah…I woke up to that).

This is a constant to the cannibal films I tried to watch.  And to be frank…I don’t get it.  I mean, obviously, it’s racist.  But seriously, who sexually attacks their dinner before eating it?  I mean, other than serial killers.   While there have certainly been cannibalistic societies throughout the centuries (though the lengths to which it was practiced is highly disputable), the portrayals in these films are the worst versions, bordering on libel.  The natives behave more like monkeys than people, especially in mannerisms.  Cannibal Holocaust was especially guilty of this, with natives skittering about in an animalistic fashion, rather than merely running, walking, etc.  The portrayal is obviously, along with the rape and torture, meant to really hammer home how savage and depraved the natives are.  Of course, the point of these films, I think, is to entertain the audience with the acts.  And to that point, they make their leads either such jerks (murderous drug dealers) or arrogant (see the documentary film makers).  Let me eat a carrot and then I will continue.

It is also important to note that the films compounded the human degradation with actual animal cruelty.   The torture of people may have been all special effects, but the animals brutalized and killed were often done for real.  The filmmaker behind Cannibal Holocaust, Ruggero Deodato faced life in prison.  After the film premiered, he was arrested, the authorities believing he had actually tortured and killed people on screen.  He avoided life in prison by bringing the actors on TV (proving he had not killed them) and showing a court how the effects were performed.  Some theorize that it was this film that brought the Cannibal film “boom” to an end.

I will note the one artistic merit of Cannibal Holocaust is it’s bizarre use of music.  The opening credits almost sound like a nice nature documentary is starting.  And the final reels have some moody and haunting work in the score that would be great for a superior film.

I could never recommend the films, unless you are studying film genres, as they are not entertaining, even as lousy films.

Posted in: Movies

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