Cannibal Holocaust: A Study Guide


Cannibal films are a subgenre of the Italian Exploitation films made during the 70's – 80's.

Origins: An extension of Mondo Films and Rainforest Adventure Films

Mondo Films were a precursor to the Faces Of Death series. They promised exotic locales, gore, and cruelty – not to mention “real death.”

Mondo in Italian translates to “world”

Rainforest Adventure films were as their category suggests, action films dealing with heroes in peril in the jungle. The Naked Prey (1966) and The Man From Deep River AKA Sacrifice! (1972)

A list of Mondo titles: Mondo Cane (1962), Mondo Bizarro, Mondo Daytona, Mondo Mod, Mondo Infame, Mondo Hollywood, Mondo Trasho, Mondo Weirdo, Mondo Keyhole, Mondo Brutale (German title for Last House On The Left), Mondo Sex, Mondo Sexualis, Mondo Elvis, Mondo Lugosi, Mondo Teeno, Mondo Rocco (Queer sub-culture documentary), Mondo Topless, Mondo New York, Mondo Di Notte, Mondo Balardo, Mondo Fresh

1977-1981 became known as “The Cannibal Boom”

Mountain Of The Cannibal God (1978)  Cannibal Holocaust (1980)  Eaten Alive (1980)  Cannibal Ferox AKA Make Them Die Slowly (1981)  Natura Contro (1988)


Cannibal Holocaust 1980 Rated X
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
also by: House On The Edge Of The Park
Last Cannibal World
Profane Exhibit (2013)

Most cannibal films were allegorical tales of anti-imperialsim. However, within their film making process, they actually represented the threat of imperialism themselves. By traveling to South America and exploiting the natives to create a film about the brutality of western civilization, the filmmakers actually embodied the true threat. Cannibal Holocaust represents the worst of this hypocrisy. The film is mostly comprised of the “found footage” from a missing team of journalists. When the tapes are edited we find the true horror was not committed by the natives, but in fact by the journalists. Their assignment was to utilize objectivity when documenting the tribes, but instead they fuel a war between them. During the making of the film, Deodato and the crew exploited the two tribes and actually created turmoil between them that hadn't been there before.

By combining elements of Mondo and Jungle Adventure films, Deodato created the prototype for the found footage film. The film was protested and pulled from theaters after only a one month run. An investigation ensued and Deodato was put on trial for murder. Everyone believed he had the journalists killed and that his creation was actually a snuff film. The actors and actresses signed a contract that forced them into silence and out of the spotlight. Once the trial commenced, Deadoto provided the judge with said contract, yet he still did not believe the filmmaker. The contract was then destroyed and the actors came forth - all except one. The judge was still not convinced, since the actor in question had a death that looked too real. Deodato then had the special effects team come in and demonstrate how the kill was created. The judge finally threw out the murder charge but fined him for obscenity and cruelty to animals. They forced him to cut the film, and by the time he attempted to re-release, it was entered into the list of Video Nasties and thus banned.

Under the Video Recordings Act of 1984, the release and distribution of obscene material became illegal. Any film without classification was immediately pulled from circulation. If you were caught with any one of the “nasties,” you could actually serve jail time. Cannibal underwent additional editing, yet could not get a classification/rating. So the film sat in limbo for years and garnered a mythical hype. Some refer to it as the most heavily banned film ever made, yet the director stated that the film has grossed nearly $200 Million during its various truncated theatrical runs. Nevertheless, its cult status is firmly engraved into the hearts of gorehounds the world over.

With Eli Roth's Green Inferno terrorizing audiences soon, we hope this study guide will prepare you for the flesh eating extravaganza.



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