The Cinematic Double-Standard That Inspired Cannibal Holocaust

The following story is related from Deodato’s appearance in “Found Footage Phenomenon,” available exclusively on Shudder. In 1977, he said, Deodato had a modest success with the film “Last Cannibal World,” aka “Cannibal Jungle Holocaust,” and the film’s producers wanted Deodato to make another. At first, Deodato refused, but his son — only 7 at the time — unwittingly gave him an idea. When the two were watching the news one evening, Deodato’s young son asked his father that it be turned off. It was too violent. According to Deodato, it was nothing but blood and death. 

That the news was so violent frustrated Deodato, and he was incensed that journalists and reporters are allowed to film real death when horror filmmakers like him didn’t get to film simulated death. Hiding behind the auspices of “journalistic integrity,” reporters were allowed to essentially — to Deodato’s eyes — do whatever they wanted. Meanwhile, his films were cut by film boards and given restrictive ratings. There was certainly, he felt, a double standard at play. 

So, he felt, why not play with that standard? He immediately conceived of a film about a group of American journalists who trek deep into the jungles looking for violence — and occasionally instigating it when it didn’t appear organically. “Cannibal Holocaust” is not gleeful about its gore, but confrontational. Deodato wanted to make a horror movie, yes, but also a media study. Not only is there hypocrisy in media watchdog groups that censor his movies and permit the news, but surely, he felt, journalists are at least partly responsible for enhancing violence. A camera can, it seems, alters ethics. 

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2022-08-13 18:30:00

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