Looking today at many of the films that made the Director of Public Prosecutions list of obscene titles in 1983, the so-called ‘Video Nasties’, makes one wonder what all the fuss was about. Besides a couple of (usually unconvincing) gory moments, the average film on the list lacks any punch, panache and certainly anything that could be deemed harmful to the public…and then there’s Cannibal Holocaust.\r\n\r\nI’m somewhat reluctant to heap praise on Cannibal Holocaust, but don’t misconstrue any praise as the condonation of the acts of animal cruelty that earned its notoriety; I wouldn’t say ignore them, but there’s certainly more to Cannibal Holocaust than its savagery. It’s a film of two distinct halves, the first sees a rescue team on the search of a missing documentary crew in the Amazon rainforest, there they discover a shrine and selection of tapes made by the missing crew. It’s an uneventful first half; the truly nasty stuff is reserved for the second in which we witness the fate of the film crew. \r\n\r\nAn early example of “found footage” style of filmmaking, the second half is truly disturbing. If director Ruggero Deodato’s aim was to make the crew as unlikeable as possible, he over shot his target. The acts they commit on the local tribesmen are nothing short of barbaric, stripping them of their humanity and showing no remorse for doing so. But perhaps more disturbing is how real it all feels, even today.\r\n\r\nBut Cannibal Holocaust doesn’t exist solely to shock, there’s an interesting message to be gleaned about journalist integrity and media sensationalism, but the same message could probably have been made without the acts of animal cruelty. Cannibal Holocaust revels in its verisimilitude, and its ability to shock hasn’t diminished 35 years later.