Holy cow! What did I get myself into? Cannibal Holocaust?!!? Really? Talk about a movie you have to watch alone for fear of someone walking in and screaming on the way out. You may be surprised, though, to discover that I have never seen the film till this past weekend. I had some time to kill, no pun intended, and thought, “You know, I should watch this movie.” Jesus, what’s wrong with me? Horror fanatics and buffs and nerds alike talk about this movie to great lengths. Strange people have even podcasted reviews and thoughts of the film some thirty-five years in the making. This is part of why I was intrigued to watch it. Another reason is because Cannibal Holocaust is considered as the grandfather of modern day found footage films. And I think this is what really hooked me, at first, to watch the granddaddy of lost tapes. My first experience with found footage was with The Blair Witch Project back in 1999. Cannibal Holocaust is not entirely found footage, however. Its partially found footage and part real time. Which, I thought, made it more interesting. The story goes:
After a documentary film crew goes missing during a trip into the Amazon to make contact and film two warring cannibal tribes, a rescue mission is led by a New York University anthropologist named Harold Monroe. The Professor eventually discovers the ill-fated film crew and recovers their lost cans of film. With only partially watching the footage, an American television station decides to edit and broadcast the material, you know, as a special in memory of the dead documentary film crew in all. However, upon viewing the rest of the reels, some of which even the editors could not watch, Professor Monroe becomes obviously appalled by the team’s heinous behavior and actions towards the Amazonian tribes they encountered, and after discovering how they died, he objects to the station’s intent to air the documentary.
Cannibal Holocaust was filmed in 1980, but it has a very 1970’s vibe to it. That may be the case because its an Italian film, but it reminded me of similar films made during the 70’s, including: Jungle Holocaust, The Mountain of the Cannibal God, and perhaps even Faces of Death. The musical score also screams 1970’s. But as for the special effects, the gore feel all too real. And most of the animal related gore IS real!! Cannibal Holocaust was filmed using actual Amazonian tribes in-hue as actors. The decapitated livestock during production were, apparently, used as real food for these peoples. So, in case you’re worried, nothing went to waste.
Besides being seen as one of the first “found footage” movies, Cannibal Holocaust is also heralded for its controversial history. Because of the films graphic violence Italy ordered the movie to be seized and director Ruggero Deodato was arrested for obscenity and for supposedly making a snuff film due to rumors that some of the actors were killed on camera. Although Deodato was later cleared, the film was still banned in Italy, Australia, and several other countries due to its portrayal of graphic brutality, sexual assault, and violence toward animals. Today, around the world, Cannibal Holocaust has become a taboo cult classic. And surprisingly the message in the movie is still relevant today. If you can get past all the gore and rape, you’ll find an actual significant meaning in all that mess. Crazy right? But that’s how horror movies work. A lot of times they’ll show you the eerie banality in violence by discussing violence in a meaningful, albeit brutal, way.
The message or meaning I got from the film was about xenophobia and ethnocentrism, judging other cultures by the standards of our own culture. During my studies in history, ethnocentrism was a real obstacle for some of my fellow students, and its still a problem with people today. Cannibal Holocaust highlights those issues with blood and the most taboo of taboos. And of course with Professor Monroe’s lasting statement at the conclusion of the film, and I’m paraphrasing: “Just who are the cannibals?” A chilling self examination, are we civilized or barbaric?
I actually enjoyed the film, despite its more unpleasant scenes. And i thought the overall intent of the film to be genuinely profound and still relevant. The grittiness of the film really added to the feel and sucked into that insane world. The turtle scene would be my biggest hangup as it was literally killed for the film, much like the snake from Friday the 13th. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Cannibal Holocaust, why not make it a weekend? Just don’t forget the mustard!
Who doesn’t love a good story? From great works such as, All Quiet on the Western Front and Salem’s Lot, Thomas S. Flowers aspires to create his own fantastic worlds with memorable characters and haunted places. His stories range from Shakespearean gore, feuding families, classic monsters, historic paranormal thrillers, and haunted soldiers. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, Thomas’s debut novel, Reinheit, was eventually published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, and FEAST. His veteran focused paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, filled with werewolves, Frankenstein-inspired monsters, cults, alter-dimensional insects, witches, and the undead are published with Limitless Publishing. Visit www.ThomasSFlowers.com for more!
Ever since Thomas Edison’s silent film, Frankenstein, debuted back in 1910, horror movies have resided in the imaginations of those disturbed enough to actually enjoy them. According to the documentary, Nightmares in the Red, White, and Blue, between 2003 and 2008, horror movies grossed over a hundred billion dollars at the box office. Sure, one Nolan or Jackson movie could top that margin with just one film, but we’re talking horror and horror movies are typically done on a lower budget with lesser known actors. Understandably, horror is big business. Horror sales and because horror can be done on any kind of budget, we end up with a rather large pool of productions to choice from, some good and some…well…you know. The horror movies that end up flopping, not only in the box office but with fans (because lets face it, box office rating matter little when it comes to horror), sometimes carry a glimmer of hope to ever being re-imagined into something better.
These remakes/reboots can be, though rarely, actually better than the original film. Some may disagree, but the original Omen (1976) was a real snoozer, while the remake was freaking amazing. Then, there are those reboots that should never have happened because there is no reason to touch the original, or, it simply cannot be done. This kind of film would include John Carpenters The Fog (1980). Carpenter’s vision was so much better developed than Rupert Wainwright’s piss poor attempt; my first (and only) viewing of the 2005 disaster made me want to vomit, and not in the “good God, gore” kind of way. And finally, there are horror movies so horrible that they should never, never — ever, be remade, because they were bad enough the first time around. This is not a challenge for Hollywood. Please, heed my warnings and never remake the following movies– ever — for real — no joke.
5. Pinocchio’s Revenge (1996)
First up, Pinocchio’s Revenge, released back in the good (laugh) old 90’s. Defense attorney, Jennifer Garrick, (somehow) acquires a Pinocchio puppet from a condemned serial killer (opps, I think we’ve seen this before)…and then suddenly bad things start happening. Yikes, how did producers think this was ever a good idea? Pinocchio’s Revenge sounds like a cheap attempt at riding the coattail success of the Child’s Play franchise and that alone really makes me want to hate this movie.
4. Thankskilling (2008)
You know those movies that are intended to be horrible movies from the start? Kind of like B-rated flicks so horrible their actually good. Well, sometimes these already intended atrocities end up just being plain old rotten. In Thankskilling (2009) a, you guessed it, turkey rampages through a small town, killing off college kids (this is what our generation has to offer?)… the end. Oh wait, and the turkey talks because it is possessed by the spirit of a ticked off Indian warrior who was murdered some time during the good old pilgrim days. I know this movie was intended to be a horror-comedy, but if your name isn’t Stuart Gordon, Sam Raimi, or Edgar Wright, your already working uphill.
3. Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
This 1980’s blockbuster (insert sarcastic remark here) has all the trimmings for a xenophobic movie of the year award. There could have been a story here, but where the bus left the station was with the subtext. Sea creatures coming to the surface to mate with women and kill off the men…I’m just going to leave that where it is. The story could be salvaged because it already has a little Lovecraftian “Dagon” ring to it. However, even the late, great man himself was as culturally competent as Kristen Stewart is at acting (oh snap!). But really, xenophobic themed movies just seem too disconnected nowadays. If this was ever to be remade, it should only include the idea of creatures from the deep wreaking havoc on those living on the surface…hmm…sounds familiar, right? Now, if we can only find giant robots to fight them off…
2. Hobgoblins (1988)
Do I really need to explain this one? Lets just say, back in the 80’s, while Gremlins was enjoying their blockbuster success, a few other lesser known producers thought…”hmm, maybe we can do the same thing,” and thus, Hobgoblins was born. Unfortunately, but predictably, they could not do the same as director Joe Dante did, or ever will. Watching the trailer, I can’t even understand what the movie is even about. Goblins making you do stuff…and then what? Lower budget movies usually means you have to work harder in developing the story, but apparently these guys didn’t get the memo.
1. Leprechaun (1993)
Finally, we arrive with Leprechaun. If you have been keeping a mental list of horror movies you know that should never be remade because they were so dang horrible the first time around, and Leprechaun so happened to be on your list, then you, sir or madam, have excellent taste in horror. For some odd reason, unknown to myself, the 90’s was one of the worse decades for horror films. Sure, some did mange not being tarnished; movies such as, Candyman or even Scream (don’t judge me) were actually really good. But when we see films like Leprechaun…well, it makes me want to file away the entire decade. The plot surrounds an “evil” leprechaun who goes on a murder spree, after his stolen bag of coins doesn’t really feel like a sound story plot. Don’t get me wrong, you can use mythological creatures as the antagonist and still be good, but you need a solid script to back it up. Check out the movie, Wishmaster, for one of the better examples I could give of using a mythos, combined with a descent story.
Well, there you have it folks. My top five movies that should never, ever be remade because they were bad enough the first time around. Trust me, the world doesn’t need more wooden, magic little monsters; we’ve hopefully outgrown the cheap 90’s wave of horror. If you have your own suggestions, please leave them in the comment box, God knows, there are plenty of them out there!