1980’s “Cannibal Holocaust” is a movie a lot of people know about, but have never and will never watch. Its history is marred by multiple bans and legal investigations, as this exploitation film’s documentary-style realism drew allegations that it was a snuff film, and that there were real deaths involved. There were, as a matter of fact, with seven real animals slain on-screen and off. According to the original DVD commentaries and extras, all the humans came through, for better or for worse.
As to its premise, “Cannibal Holocaust” throws some feckless rescuers into the Amazon jungles to locate a lost crew of documentarians — sort of like if “Apocalypse Now” was about finding Werner Herzog, not Colonel Kurtz. The journey turns into a festival of assault, murder, and yes, cannibalism. It’s a genuinely unpleasant experience, a movie that exists because there was an Italian obsession with cannibal movies for a while. According to the director, it’s a movie about sensationalism in journalism. According to the rest of us, it sure is a gross-ass movie.