Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Real Cannibal Holocaust (1974, Akira Ide)

The Real Cannibal Holocaust, just released by One 7 Films (distributed by CAV Distribution) was a bit of a mystery to me when I first heard about it.  I had read online that it was actually a Bruno Mattei directed ripoff of Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust but then found out it was actually a 70s Japanese/Italian Mondo film.  Honestly, I was much more interested by the latter.  I did a little poking around and found that this seems to be the first U.S. release of the film (at least on DVD) and that it is the full uncut 99 minute version (previous releases have been cut down under 90 minutes).  So, about that title though?  I'll admit that it could be considered a terrible title, basically trying to trick viewers into thinking it is similar to Deodato's classic.  Though a little misleading, it's an intriguing title that is sure to pique the average horror fan's curiosity.  Plus, the title fairly accurately describes the film - it's a Mondo film containing (mostly) real footage and it also has a theme of cannibalism throughout. 

The Real Cannibal Holocaust, or it's original title Nuova Guinea, l'isola dei cannibali, is a documentary showing the rituals and lifestyles of the native tribes of New Guinea.  A large part of the film focuses on death and cannibalism, as we see a woman eating maggots from her husband's rotting corpse, a group of natives smoking a corpse on an open flame to preserve it and several other scenes involving corpses.  Other than dead bodies, we are also shown footage of lepers, real animals being killed (though not pointlessly) and old customs including the tattooing, scarring and piercing of various body parts. 

The Real Cannibal Holocaust is actually one of the best Mondo films I've seen.  Though it may not be as beautiful to watch as Mondo Cane, it did cut out a lot of the bullshit and get down to business.  There were very few scenes that were boring or pointless, another rarity with these types of films.  Real Cannibal Holocaust also seemed to have a higher percentage of real footage with only a couple scenes that looked faked or questionable.  The music and end theme song "Why?" by Riz Ortolani (who did the music for the Mondo Cane films) was also a great asset to the film and it made a nice contrast to the ghastly images on the screen.  As I stated before, I am sure that plenty of gorehounds are going to check this out based on the title, and I hope that they will be pleasantly surprised by the watchability of the film as well as the nauseating images displayed.  I have a strong stomach and I'll admit that there were several scenes that I had to look away.  The DVD from One 7 Movies is a treat, mainly just because it exists.  Though the picture shows some wear and the sound has a hiss to it, it didn't detriment the film at all.  In fact, it made it feel more authentic.  There are no special features on the disc but the film is the uncut version and worth picking up for Mondo fans and fans of extreme Horror.

RATING:  8/10


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