Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 5th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1979
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Writers: Ruggero Deodato, Gianfranco Clerici
Cast: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, Luca Barbareschi, Salvatore Basile, Ricardo Fuentes, Gabriel Yorke
BluRay released: July 1st, 2014
Approximate running time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Stereo English
Subtitles: English (for scenes that only exist in Italian)
BluRay Release: Grindhouse Releasing
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $39.95
Cannibal Holocaust is not an easy film to watch and outside of its shocking images most of them dealing with animal cruelty there is little left in the way of entertainment. It has been nearly twenty five years since Ruggero Deodato directed this notorious film which all but ended his career as a filmmaker, he has spent his time churning out B films and TV movies since Cannibal Holocaust.
This film cleverly mixes what looks like documentary footage with the rest of the footage assembled by Deodato giving this film an almost too realistic look at times. Of course there are many great set pieces in the film like when the film crew comes across the girl that they just raped who has now had a pole shoved in from her genitals up through her mouth. This moment is clearly the films breaking point were the film crew who were once civilized have now lost their innocence and they return to their nihilistic cave man roots to rape Mother Nature.
There is no denying that in today’s world that films like this that torture and then murder helpless animals would never have a chance of being made. Of note it is interesting that now year’s later director Ruggero Deodato has since condemned these scenes of animal cruelty as youthful indiscretion.
The films greatest asset without a doubt is Riz Ortolani’s masterful score that adds emotion and depth to the images and characters. I have never been a fan of the cannibal genre of films and even though I have seen a few of the over the years one has to wonder who the core audience is for these type of films. There is no denying that Cannibal Holocaust is a powerful experience and the reputation that is has gained through the years is deserved.
Cannibal Holocaust comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. When compared to previous releases, including Grindhouses own albeit on a different format DVD. This new transfer included with this release will blow away even the most diehard fan as the colors and flesh tones have never looked as strong, black and contrast levels look consistently great and details look sharp throughout. Now to the part that most have been waiting for. This release has none of the problems that have plagued so many Italian films on Blu-Ray. There are no issues with DNR or compression and grain looks natural throughout. Also there is a noticeable difference in terms of the how the footage looks when a scene takes place in New York or in the jungle. And this has all to do with source since there were two formats used to shoot this film 16mm and 35mm.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD stereo mix in English. It should be noted that some dialog is only in Italian and for these moments there are English subtitles. Though both audio mixes sound great, the stronger of the two is the Stereo mix which offers a more engrossing sound mix that always makes sure the score sounds appropriately robust and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. Dialog is always clear and everything sounds balanced as there is never an issue with background noise or distortion. Quality wise both of these audio mixes are upgrades when compared to all previous releases for this film.
The extras for this release are spread over two discs with the bulk of the extra content on disc two a dual layer 50gb Blu-Ray.
Extras on disc one include an alternate scene titled ‘Last Road to Hell’ (1 minute 45 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, with a text based explanation about the scene) and a trailers gallery which contains, the International trailer (3 minutes 6 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), the Italian release trailer (3 minutes 8 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), the German release trailer (2 minutes 12 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), the U.S. original release trailer (1 minute 25 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and the U.S. re-release trailer (1 minute 59 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and two audio commentaries, the first one with director Ruggero Deodato and actor Robert Kerman and the second audio commentary is with actor Gabriel Yorke and actress Francesca Ciardi. This second audio commentary is brand new content that is making its debut for this Blu-Ray release.
Extras on disc two are broken down into three categories, the first category is titled Interviews which includes the following extras, the first interview is with Ruggero Deodato who discusses his jungle trilogy – Last Cannibal World, Cannibal Holocaust and Cut and Run (58 minutes 8 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), the second interview with Robert Kerman (35 minutes 37 seconds – 1080 Progressive 1.33:1 aspect ratio), Gabriel Yorke (56 minutes 18 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), the third interview with Francesca Ciardi (38 minutes 21 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), the fourth interview with actor Salvatore Basile (30 minutes 32 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), the fifth interview with composer Riz Ortolani (5 minutes – 1080 Progressive 1.33:1 aspect ratio, in Italian with English subtitles), the sixth interview with camera operator Roberto Forges Davanzati (12 minutes 31 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), the seventh interview with once again with Deodato who is part of a Q & A panel at Cinema Wasteland 2011 (28 minutes 21 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), the eighth interview is a Q & A with Francesca Ciardi (11 minutes 14 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), the ninth interview is titled ‘Yorke and Deodato Reunion’ (10 minutes 25 seconds – 1080 Progressive 1.33:1 aspect ratio) and tenth interview is titled ‘Kerman and Deodato Reunion’ (8 minutes 48 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen). All of the content in this section expect Kerman, Yorke and Ortolani interviews are new to this release.
The second category is titled Stills Galleries and they are broken down into these sub categories, production stills, behind the scenes, promotional materials (Italy, German, Spain, Japan, Various), video releases and mondo cannibal.
The third section is titled Grindhouse Releasing and it contains the following trailers, Cannibal Ferox, The Beyond, Pieces, An American Hippie in Israel, Corruption, The Big Gundown, The Swimmer, Massacre Mafia Style, Gone with the Pope, Ice House, Scum of the Earth, Cat in the Brain, The Tough Ones and I Drink Your Blood.
An Easter egg can be found on disc one when you go to the setup menu. This one is a seven minute clip that includes comments about the film from Pantera’s Phil Anselmo followed by a music video titled Necrophagia and clips from the film. And Easter eggs can be found on disc two can found when accessing the stills galleries section and going all the way to the bottom right. This Easter egg is footage from a 2001 midnight screening for the film (7 minutes 14 seconds – 1080 Progressive 1.33:1 aspect ratio). Another Easter egg can be found on disc two’s main menu on the far left bottom corner. This Easter egg is a footage from Cannibal Holocausts 2001 release premier (9 minutes 14 seconds – 1080 Progressive 1.33:1 aspect ratio).
Also included with this release is a 3rd disc a CD that contains Riz Ortolani’s score for the film. Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art for the keep case that houses the two Blu-Ray’s and a twenty four page booklet with liner notes about the film written by filmmaker Eli Roth, journalist Chas Balun and Martin Beine editor of Tenebrarum magazine and an essay about Riz Ortolani written by music historian Gergely Hubai.
Just when you thought all that could have been said about Cannibal Holocaust had been said, along comes this release from Grindhouse Releasing that comes with almost six hours of new extra content. And of course every area of this film’s production is covered in great detail. What is most surprising about this extra content is how forth coming and candid all the participants were as they all provided great insight of what is was liking making this film and its legacy all these years later. And though the main star of this attraction is Cannibal Holocaust, it was also very cool hearing about other projects that the participants have worked on. With my favorite extra for this release being the interview with Deodato as he discusses his jungle trilogy.
When looking over this release content wise there is not an area that does not deliver and in most cases then some. Making this release not only essential for fans of this film, but fans of Italian exploitation cinema, highly recommended.