Cannibal Holocaust

Re-release of notable video nasty

13th May

Updated: Censors Less Cruel...

BBFC confirms that Cannibal Holocaust now only requires one animal cruelty scene to be cut

Shameless have heard from the BBFC that the long edition of Cannibal Holocaust (i.e. not the new edit from Deodato) has been passed with just 15 seconds of BBFC cuts to the killing of a muskrat.

Rather than just cutting the scene, Shameless have kept the audio and simply replaced the visual footage with alternative shots so the running time is as originally submitted. This will make the cut seamless as opposed to jarring jump-cut.

Although expected after the BBFC's earlier advice to Shameless, this is a real milestone for UK film classification and Cannibal Holocaust and is being celebrated up in Shameless Towers!

Update: BBFC explain their waived cuts

Kudos to the BBFC for the frank explanation of the 2001 animal cruelty cuts.

13th May 2011. See extended classification information from , Thanks to Gavin Salkeld

Cannibal Holocaust is a 1980 Italian horror film. It tells the story of a group of documentary film makers who go missing in the rain-forests of South America. An anthropologist who goes in search of the film makers finds cans containing their undeveloped footage. When the processed footage is viewed, back in New York City, it reveals their fate. The film was classified 18 for strong sex, sexual violence, bloody violence and animal slaughter.

Cannibal Holocaust contains a number of scenes of sexual and sexualised violence that are insufficiently discreet for a 15 classification and which received varying levels of cuts when the film was previously submitted in 2001. In one scene, we see a native woman receiving a ritual punishment for adultery , which involves her being dragged out of a boat, being tied up, and then being violently assaulted with a spiked wooden dildo and a ball of mud containing spikes. Although the scene is shocking and some blood is seen, the emphasis is on the disturbing nature of what is happening, rather than on any erotic detail. The moments of nudity, which are generally shown in longer shot, are well broken up by facial shots of the woman and her attacker, as well as by reaction shots from the disgusted anthropologist and his team who are watching from behind a bush. In another scene, we briefly see a native woman being attacked by a member of another tribe. However, no detail is visible beyond some undetailed thrusting. Later in the film, we witness the documentary film makers raping a native woman. However, the woman in question is covered in mud and very little detail of nudity is visible in what is actually quite a chaotic scene. The scene is shot using a hand-held camera, with the woman moving in and out of view behind the thrusting buttocks of the film makers. The emphasis is firmly on the sadism of the film makers, rather than on any erotic detail, with cutaways to the female film maker protesting about what is being done. Finally, there is a scene in which the female member of the film crew is sexually assaulted and then killed by the cannibals, in retribution for the violence she and her crew have meted out against the native people. As with the previous scene, the manner of filming is chaotic, with hand-held camera-work and the action often moving in and out of focus behind other characters and the surrounding vegetation. The Guidelines state Content which might endorse or eroticise sexual violence may require cuts at any classification level . Although cuts were required to all four scenes of sexual violence in 2001, the BBFC's conclusion today is that the limited detail of nudity, and the frequent intercutting of the scenes with other material, renders the scenes horrific and aversive rather than erotic or likely to eroticise or endorse sexual violence in the real world.

The BBFC's Guidelines state It is illegal to show any scene 'organised or directed for the purposes of the film that involves actual cruelty to animals. This Act applies to the exhibition of films in public cinemas, but the BBFC also applies the same test to video works. In 2001, the BBFC permitted two scenes of unsimulated animal killing in Cannibal Holocaust , namely the decapitation of a snake and the stamping to death of a tarantula. In the case of the snake, the killing was permitted because the decapitation of the snake was instant and therefore comprised a quick clean kill, which is not inherently cruel in terms of BBFC policy. In the case of the tarantula, the killing was permitted because spiders are invertebrates and are therefore not covered by the relevant legislation, nor by BBFC Guidelines or policy. However, cuts were required to four other sequences in which animals were actually killed, namely a small mammal, a turtle, a monkey and a pig. On this occasion, the BBFC concluded that the killing of the small mammal, previously cut in 2001, was still in breach of BBFC Guidelines and policy. In the scene in question, a small mammal (described as a muskrat in the film) is killed using a knife. The animal is repeatedly cut with the knife, resulting in blood loss, and squeals in evident pain and terror. This protracted killing is a clear breach of BBFC Guidelines and policy in relation to the cruel infliction of pain and terror on an animal and in terms of the cruel goading of an animal to fury. However, careful examination of the other three scenes of animal killing revealed that, in each case, the animal in question is killed quickly and cleanly. The turtle's neck is completely and instantly severed, with a rapid blow from a machete; the monkey is killed by the first of two rapid blows from a machete, resulting in its head being cut in two; the pig is killed by a gun shot to the head at close range, resulting in instant death. Although, in the case of the turtle and the pig, there is some sight of the animals' bodies (or body parts) twitching, this is evidently a post mortem nervous reaction, akin to a headless chicken running around a farmyard. Although the BBFC recognises that these scenes of animal slaughter may be upsetting or offensive to some viewers, it is clear that the scenes in question depict animals being killed in a quick and clean fashion that is acceptable under BBFC Guidelines and policy and the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937, on which that policy is based.

The 2001 decision to cut these scenes was primarily the result of the disgusting and exploitative nature of the sequences, as well as the history of the film as a DPP-listed video nasty , rather than the result of a strict application of BBFC policy. In spite of any ethical concerns viewers might have about the killing of real animals for film making purposes, removing these sequences would be inconsistent with the BBFC's decisions to permit quick clean kills in several other films, such as Apocalypse Now . It is clear that these scenes are not illegal and are not likely to be harmful to adult viewers. Indeed, the most likely reaction is disgust and revulsion.


27th May

Offsite: Chewing Things Over...

Video nasty director Deodato debates censorship

Ahead of a public debate on censorship, director Ruggero Deodato explained what he might have done differently when making his controversial Cannibal Holocaust .

Now a new edit of the film, presented by Deodato himself, premiered in London on Thursday night at Brunel University's Cine-Excess V conference on cult film.

Deodato commented: I think the cuts of the new edition are right. If I had the chance to go back in time, I'd have avoided the animal killings. I paid a high price for that, such as losing the pleasure of introducing Cannibal Holocaust to the UK public.

...Read the full article


2nd August

Update: Less Cruel Cuts...

Ruggero Deodato's New Edit of Cannibal Holocaust passed 18 without BBFC cuts

Cannibal Holocaust is a 1979 Italian adventure by Ruggero Deodato. See IMDb

The complete film was recently passed 18 with just 15s of animal cruelty cut. All the violence and sexual violence had been restored with the blessing of the BBFC along with most of the animal nastiness not in contravention of the law. The remaining cut was to the cruel killing of a muskrat.

Distributors Shameless also commissioned a version that was pre-cut by director Ruggero Deodato to reduce the animal violence in a way that best preserved the film.

This new version referred to as Ruggero Deodato's New Edit has now been passed 18 without further BBFC cuts. The BBFC noted that it was pre-cut in line with 2011 BBFC cut version.

Assuming that both versions have the same introductory banners and logos etc then it is estimated that Deodato cut about 23s for his edit.


16th September

Offsite: Keep Filming! Kill More People!...

Guardian piece on Cannibal Holocaust:

Cannibal Holocaust is a 1979 Italian adventure by Ruggero Deodato. See IMDb

The pre-cut Ruggero Deodato's New Edit [Cut to remove the cruel killing of a coatimundi ] was passed 18 without further BBFC cuts for:
  • UK 2011 Shameless Blu-ray, at UK Amazon for release on 26th September 2011
  • UK 2011 Shameless R2 DVD, at UK Amazon for release on 26th September 2011

The Guardian has written an article on this iconic video nasty:

First you take the liver out, then you open the rib cage and take the innards out. Then you fill it with hot stones and aromatic herbs ... Ruggero Deodato is explaining how to eat a human being. Not that he's done it, or has he met anyone who has -- but when it comes to cannibalism, the 72-year-old director is still something of an authority. In 1980, Deodato released what is still regarded in many quarters as the most controversial film ever made: Cannibal Holocaust, now being rereleased for home consumption, if that's the right word.

...Read the full article


26th September

Updated: Taster...

Ruggero Deodato's New Edit of Cannibal Holocaust now released on DVD and Blu-ray

Cannibal Holocaust is a 1979 Italian adventure by Ruggero Deodato. See IMDb

The pre-cut Ruggero Deodato's New Edit was passed 18 without further BBFC cuts for:

The BBFC commented:

  • pre-cut in line with 2011 BBFC cut version. [Cut to remove the cruel killing of a coatimundi ]

Which is an awful lot better than the 5:44s that the BBFC cut on the previous 2001 Vipco DVD where the BBFC cuts were:

  • The killing of a coatimundi has been deleted
  • Our intrepid adventurers witness the riverside murder and mutilation of a woman presumably by her husband. We don't get to witness:
    • the girl being dragged through the mud and having her legs forced apart
    • the girl struggling and being raped with a wooden dildo
    • the man raising a mudball with spikes and the subsequent shot of genital mutilation
  • Another woman getting raped on the river bank has been removed
  • The disembowelling of a giant turtle has been predictably deleted
  • A monkey gets his head sliced open and its blood is drained into a bowl...but not in the censored version
  • The kicking of a tethered pig has been removed and its subsequent shooting and death
  • The rape one of a native girl by 3 men has been reduced
  • The cannibals eventually overpower the adventurers. The woman in the party gets stripped and raped but not in the UK version.
  • The woman's death scene is missing nudity shots.

And of course before that, it was banned as one of the most notable video nasties back in July 1983

Review from imdb : Very well written plot

Cannibal Holocaust was, first and foremost, a disgusting movie with more violence than I have ever seen. Despite this, it is also one of my favorite movies. It gives a feeling of Blair Witch done right, even though there are some very obviously contrived scenes in which nobody is holding the camera, but despite some small cosmetic problems this is the best horror movie I have ever seen.


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