Cannibal Holocaust

Cannibal Holocaust

This film is an evil spell. It seeps slowly into you and over you and through you with poisonous, hallucinogenic smoke. Its pulses and rhythms of unending violence render bludgeon you, while its electronic music spirals you surreally above yourself. It is a staring into the void, but there is no end to it.

It is many things, and I have no idea how to rate it, as conventional senses of quality really have no place with a film like this. It is profoundly repugnant and yet also seems somehow a pinnacle. Anything I have to say here will be insufficient.

Like a satanic amplification of the killed rabbit in RULES OF THE GAME, the tortoise scene is the film's evil heart. And as deeply as I appreciate Grindhouse's considerate disclaimer disavowing the behavior and their animal-cruelty free version option -- the film's rotting flesh is wrapped around that documentary moment. It isn't justified. It is pure evil. But it is integral.

It should remind us not only of our own violence against each other, but of the real-world animal holocausts we perpetuate to this day. Found footage activists routinely procure material just like this.

This isn't a film to "like" -- it appears to me. I would like to believe that in a better world, for us "children of the space age," a film like this would absorb our evils and burn them away. Smoke them out of us. And then we would look upon the tortoise as a fellow-creature and disavow not the film, but our violent actions forever. And we would renounce flesh-eating as a way of life.

One realizes that Ruggero's surname is Deodato -- God given. If black magic becomes white magic when compassion springs from the abyss, the real evil is to look away.

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