Cannibal Holocaust shares the very repulsive sexual violence of Park but it brings in two other key ingredients, namely an underlying social commentary and the infamous animal slaughter. The latter is a feature of the Italian Cannibal films in general and it really makes for diabolically horrible viewing. It's a pretty low way to shock audiences by shooting a pig – okay you've got our attention but where is the skill in that. In fairness, even worse things happen in slaughterhouses every day but there is just something particularly nauseating about the gloating nature of the turtle scene, with the characters goofing around with the poor beast's severed head for the camera. All of the excesses of the movie mean that the social commentary is somewhat lost in the mix. The idea that the media exploit events for their own gain is most certainly one that carries some weight, particularly in the case of the Italian 60's Mondo movies of which I am sure were a big influence on this film. But it's so very, very hard to get past the extreme violence.
How to rate Cannibal Holocaust? It's one of the most difficult films for me to score because this is a well-made film and it has definitely sickened me and that was the intention. But much of the experience for me was a negative one where I felt somewhat debased actually watching it. So I have settled for a middling score that reflects the skill and originality of this genuinely troubling movie but which also acknowledges that in many other ways I was appalled.