Some good ideas; but in the end, the film makes the big mistake to show the amorality of the snuff filmmakers by showing the real slaughters of animals. So the critical impetus of the movie became kind of paradox. Finally, I don't want to see these animal cruelty!
The animal cruelty was a huge turn-off for me. I wouldn't mind it, as long as I knew it was fake. The peaceful soundtrack contrasted nicely with the disturbing violence of the film but, at the same time, made me sick to my stomach just hearing it... I can't say I didn't enjoy the film because it didn't fail in making me feel uncomfortable, but I wouldn't call it a masterpiece like many consider it to be.
Infamous because of its animal cruelty, but it's worth bearing in mind that genuine masterpieces like Peckinpah's have a scorpion being devoured by ants and chickens getting their heads blown off. I'll play devil's advocate and say that it is a thoughtful updating of "Heart Of Darkness"; its most egregious influence may actually be that it is the basis for all those "found footage" movies like "Blair Witch Project".
The animal cruelty hangs over this film like a putrid cloud. Its commentary is sometimes paradoxical in an interesting way, but sometimes downright hypocritical. It had the potential for thoughtful interrogations of spectatorship, misogyny and ethnocentrism, but it glides hazily past the issues and gets lost in all the grisly nihilism and senseless, merciless violence. Excruciating to watch, but worth discussing.
This would've been ok if it weren't for the torturous animal cruelty. The turtle scene not only made me cry, but brought me very close to the edge of throwing up and for that, I cannot forgive this film. I'm usually fine with graphic violence, but goddamn!!
Animal killings aside, Cannibal Holocaust works because of how extreme the subject matter becomes. You CAN believe a bunch of disdainful documentarians would waltz into the Amazon and willingly exploit the indigenous population for the sake of sensationalism. The film's message is forced but Riz Ortolani's haunting score and Sergio D'Offizi masterful photography make the horror of this picture truly stand-out.