Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Cannibal Holocaust 
Riz Ortolani 

These nasty savages really know how to party! Ruggero Deodato's chunk blower magnum opus is like National Geographic Gone Wild with swingin' tits, thongs, skinny dipping, mud wrestling, vaginal impalement, guerrilla gang rape, forced ritual abortion, jagged rock castration...wait. I wanna go home! WAAAAA!!!! This mean-spirited journey into the heart of darkness makes the usual disembowelment and organ munching of sleazy 1970's mondo "shockumentaries" seem downright quaint in comparison.  The blitzkrieg narrative rolls your eyeballs straight down that last bumpy road to hell and the final devastating reel when our hapless gringo journalists scatter through the jungle popping off flare gun rounds as ash-smeared natives advance is truly unsettling. Then of course there's the unforgivable sea turtle mutilation that compels even the most emotionally stunted goretard among us to flinch. They just don't make movies like this anymore. And that's probably a good thing. This is simply one of the most cruel, uncomfortable and powerful films you will ever experience and Riz Ortolani's beautiful score is one of the most stirring, memorable and disturbing of all time. I've taken more than the recommended dosage over the years and still can't quite put my finger on why this soundtrack is so effective. It's really not so different from his kinda lame 1962 debut for Mondo Cane (a film that had a profound influence on Deodato's gonzo directorial style), which is basically oddly buoyant easy listening with an occasional brooding note thrown in to remind us jive ass honkies that we're supposed to be appalled as well as titillated. Perhaps it's the incongruous juxtaposition of soothing sickly sweet orchestral lullabies with plodding low-fi synths, shrieking ghost tones and funerary violin. One minute it sounds like Cat Stevens is about to rub lotion on your feet and the next minute you're curled up behind the couch in a fetal position while tribal Casio drums slash through the living room foliage. Ortolani does inexplicable things with wah wah peddles that would make me want to punch Edie Brickell in the face under normal circumstances but somehow it scares the shit out of me in this context. I literally look over my shoulder when I'm blasting this in the drawing chamber at 3am. Three jaded decades of bukkake porn and internet cartel beheadings have done nothing to soften the terrible impact of this film. That's because despite the unnecessary animal abuse (it's awful) and embarrassing "social message" (Third World cannibals are definitely a First World problem), this is undeniably masterful exploitation film making. In other words, this is a GREAT film...within a film.  In fact, it was transgressive cinema like this that effectively put an end to underground comix back in the 70's. How could a buncha' scruffy sad sacks with rapidographs possibly ruffle the feathers of the bourgeois status quo with crazy shit like this being blasted across huge theater screens for about the same price as a 20 page funny book? Answer: they couldn't. When it comes to far-out kicks, nothing beats the Green Inferno. And guess what? Portland's Hollywood Theater will be screening the only known 35mm print in existence TONIGHT courtesy of Dan Halsted's ongoing Grindhouse Film Festival! Bring a barf bag and prepare to be dumped by your date. Seriously, you're gonna need a safe word. Peeewwww. Peeewwww.