Cannibal Holocaust Review ( 1980 )

Cannibal Holocaust Review ( 1980 )

I guess this should of been one of the first reviews I wrote for this site but to be honest I always feel a little ashamed about my feelings towards the film.

Nearly every Cannibal Holocaust review you come across online will point out that this was the original Found Footage offering – it’s where it all started. You will also notice that most reviewers cannot help but heap praise on the movie.

That’s the problem – I just don’t get where they are coming from!!!

Cannibal Holocaust Scenes

The film seems to have built up a cult following because of the stir it caused at the time ( remember The Exorcist causing a similar storm? ). When this kind of media uproar happens the film in question is always going to receive some sort of boost.

Ruggero Deodato’s film is considered a horror fan’s rite of passage and I can’t really argue with this – at the time it was considered completely shocking.

But my interest in it was based on the Found Footage element – the horror very much played second fiddle.

I guess I was expecting a life changing moment as I sat down to watch ‘the godfather of Found Footage’ and that moment never came…

The Plot

The start of the film caught me completely off guard as it was backed by a rather peaceful Riz Ortani theme and airborne camera shots – not the start I was expecting at all!

We are then thrown straight into the ‘guts’ of the film when we learn that it’s been a year since a group of young filmmakers disappeared in the Amazon jungle. This initial part of the film is delivered in a Mockumentary-styled news broadcast.

We then move swiftly to a character named Professor Harold Monroe ( Richard Kerman ) who apparently tutored one of the missing filmmakers.

The good professor is sort of roped into traveling to the jungle in an attempt to locate the missing group and find out what happened to them.

To cut a relatively long story short – he finds the dead bodies of the student filmmakers along with a video camera they were using. This video camera contains footage of their final days in the Amazon…

Cannibal Holocaust 1980 Full Movie

As you may have guessed, the film is not shot entirely in the Found Footage format – it is rather a game of two halves. The first half of the film completely struggled to hold my interest whilst the second half was a big improvement.

Even though the film has the excuse of being shot in 1979 it still hit me as being poorly acted and scripted in parts. I found myself continuously cringing throughout the first 40 minutes or so of the film – things were rather camp and corny.

The clean 35mm shot main narrative and the 16mm shot ‘documentary’ footage doesn’t really fit together that smoothly. The 16mm section ( Found Footage ) contained the more shocking elements that drew so much media attention at the time.

This sort of build didn’t really work for me largely down to the fact that the first section was so tepid and scatty. Perhaps I’m just stuck in my ways and to ‘bogged down’ with more modern Found Footage formats!


There’s no getting away from the fact that Cannibal Holocaust is the starting point for all Found Footage movies. I accept this and I understand it is a cult horror classic.

But, in my humble opinion Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County and The Blair Witch Project did a lot more for the Found Footage genre. Cannibal Holocaust gave us the idea whilst Abduction & Blair Witch gave us the platform to build a superpower horror genre.

I cannot finish this review without highlighting the real reason I am not ( and never will be ) a true fan of this film.

They kill real live animals for the purpose of the film’s story line!

I know things were slightly different back in the 70’s but I’m afraid this kind of thing is never acceptable in my world. A spider is hacked to pieces in one scene, as is a snake. A monkey has the top of his head chopped off, and I’m afraid a tortoise meets a rather sticky ending.

These completely unnecessary deaths do manage to give the film a sense of realism but I’m afraid it crosses the line with me. I will never watch this film again because of them.

So I’m afraid I’ll leave the final judgement up to you on this one – I don’t want to give it any sort of rating as I don’t feel I can sit on the fence.

The jury’s out – what are your opinions on the film?




  1. I HATED THIS MOVIE!!!! Veryyyyy over-rated!!! What do I know,critics loved it!! Not me!!!

    • Yeah I’m afraid I have to agree with you – it just wasn’t for me. I watched a recent FF remake ( I forget the name ) and I thought it was better! Still, it’s regarded as a classic so I had to review it…

  2. Hey Chris,

    Just stumbled upon your website and I am a big fan of found footage too. Your site has now given me few more movies to watch out:).

    Regarding CH – i agree, apart from the gore which in my opinion was disturbing than horrifying, there was nothing in terms of scare or horror. I was bored throughout.

    • Hi Sid, nice to have you here!

      Glad we could highlight a few films for you to watch 🙂
      Look forward to speaking to you again soon ( and please feel free to let us know about any FF films you would like us to cover! )

  3. I first watched this on a 6th or 7th grade VHS copy when I was 13 and this is truly where my foundness for FF comes from. Still I can get in line with the fact that this is not a very good movie. I have the same relationship to this film as I have with some of my old childhood friends; they don’t feel very relevant to me anymore, but they were there from the very beginning and that’s got to count for something.

    • Yeah it’s a strange one isn’t it John. I really struggled to get through the first section of the film due to the terrible acting at times. The second half is of course a lot better but pales when put next to many other Found Footage titles. I suppose it deserves it’s accolades for being the starting point of Found Footage but I’m afraid it’s not for me!

  4. I wish there was some kind of censored version of this were the animal parts were cut (Since they seem to not serve any value for the story) so i can watch it but as it is im never seeing this.

  5. I agree with your points. In my opinion, Cannibal Holocaust is one of the FF ancestors but the parent is The Blair Witch Project. CH is an important and influential film, but it’s not a true FF and I don’t understand why some people consider it as a 10/10 FF or as the #1 of this subgenre. Just because it’s a 1980 cannibal horror film with FF elements?! That’s not enough.

    As a horror film, CH is not overrated but it’s overrated as a FF without a doubt. Plus animal cruelty and killings of animals have degraded its total quality. Glad that it’s not in your top ten list. I recommend FF fans watch it because it’s a part of FF history and it has a shocking plot and scenes but it neither is a top FF nor is a true FF. Just an ancestor in FF world. If you’re new to FF, watch the films mentioned in Chris’ top ten.

    My last point is CH deserves a full FF remake or a spiritual successor. Its story, theme, and atmosphere have potential for creating modern FFs. Not necessarily another cannibal film but a horror film with similar approach: “I wonder who the real cannibals (evils) are”

    • Welcome To The Jungle was seen as a CH remake but I didn’t get the link to be honest with you – I found Welcome to The Jungle a million times better!
      Somebody mentioned that 2017’s Green Inferno was also supposed to be a remake – but I didn’t see that much of a link there either (other than people being eaten!).

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