Through all walks of life you are bound to find some sort of controversy from little to huge. Politics are filled with it, sports have it often, the media feeds off it, but usually film isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you hear controversy. This is because we take movies to be exactly what they are, movies. However, depending on different factors which could include your religion or morals, movies many times step over the line in the name of creativity.
In 1980, directory Ruggo Deodato released what is widely regarded as the most controversial films ever made in Cannibal Holocaust. The premise of the film is that an American film team go into the Amazon to look for any signs of a team who previously went there but disappeared when investigating some of the indigenous cannibal tribes. The movie is in the “found footage” subgenre of horror because everything you see is the recovered footage of their expedition because they went missing as well.
What made this movie so controversial can be boiled down to three main points. For starters, Deodato had been accused of exploitation and racism after the movie’s release. He claims that the tribe understood everything that was going on, including how they were being depicted as cannibals in the film because they are in some aspects of their life. It’s traditional for them to be and it has been this way for ages. Nonetheless, there is often debate that there is little evidence of interest in the customs of the tribe within the movie.
The second point is the actual harm of real animals. Even though the director claimed no real animals were hurt, there was about seven animals who were actually killed in the making of this movie. This has been done many times in movies, but what makes this one stand out more so is in most movies it’s more so implied that they died whereas this movie shows them actually dying and in pain. Needless to say, there were definitely law suits involved with these scenes. Some of which included: the killing of a muskrat, the decapitation of a large turtle, and a pig being shot in the head with a shotgun.
The last point is the wellbeing of the actors involved. There are extremely disturbing scenes throughout the movie that caused emotional distress for many viewers, but that is nothing compared to what the actors may have gone through. The movie was made back in 1980, before technology and special effects could make movies the way they do now. It was believed for a long time that the director actually was physically harming the actors of the movie. There’s a scene of a forced abortion, a pole through a woman’s body, and many other grotesque and disturbing things that seem too real for its time. The directors were actually arrested at one point for murder and had to seek out and find some of his actors in order to prove that they were, in fact, still alive. There is also times within the movie where real life executions were shown, making the movie that much more shocking.
This movie was so controversial in its time that it was banned for over three years in over forty different countries. The United Kingdom only lifted the ban for this movie in 2001. Believed to be the pioneer of the found footage genre, this movie still continues to be listed as one of the top ten controversial films of all time. Be prepared, if you do eventually see this, that this is a very unsettling and hard movie to watch.