Cannibal Holocaust Is the Pick of the Week

In the small town in Oklahoma where I grew up, we had a surprisingly big video store. They had taken over a Burger King that had gone out of business (and that tells you right there how “small town” we were) so the floor space was rather large and they had a really wonderful and eclectic selection of odd-ball movies. I especially enjoyed their horror section. They had the usual collection of psycho killers slashing at sexy teens (this was the ’80s after all) but they also had more unusual stuff like the Faces of Death series, Shocking Asia, Vampyros Lesbos and Blood Sucking Freaks.

I watched them all when I could (my parents were pretty conservative about such things so I had to rent them on the sly, keep them in my trunk until late at night when I could sneak it in, and watch with my finger on the channel changer ready at the slightest noise to pretend to be watching Letterman). At the time, I didn’t realize what a treasure it was to have such a store in my little town. This was pre-internet after all. so I neither had access to all the torrents or the message boards with fanboys discussing every gory detail of every gory film.

I just browsed through the aisles and picked up anything that looked interesting. And they had a lot. I’m still surprised at how many cult horror films I managed to watch in those days. They did not have Cannibal Holocaust however. Not that I knew then to be disappointed about it. Sans internet or access to magazines like Fangoria, I had no idea that movie existed until years later.

When I did learn of it, and its reputation as the most controversial movie ever I grabbed a copy as soon as I could and once again stayed up late to watch (this time it was the wife who wouldn’t approve, though my finger was once again on – not the remote – but the keyboard to pause it or close it out to keep her from complaining that I’m watching video nasties again).

It certainly does live up to its reputation as its a pretty nasty piece of work. For my money, the scenes where they cut up a live turtle piecemeal turns my stomach more than any violent, bloody end any of the humans come to. It’s also really well made all things considered and contains at least a hint of social commentary. True, it doesn’t say anything particularly original (no matter how civilized we become we are all truly savages at heart) but it says it with a great deal of originality and horror that there is really no other film like it.

The film has been released on DVD a couple of times but this is its first HD upgrade. It comes with a new restoration of the original director’s cut. There are two commentaries, new in-depth interviews, classic interviews, a stills gallery, multiple trailers, the original soundtrack on a bonus CD, and a glossy 24-page book.

It is absolutely not a film for everyone, but it is an essential viewing for horror fanatics everywhere, and now its my pick of the week.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Hinterland Series 1: A dark, detective drama from Wales. That’s enough to make me sold.

The Million Dollar Piano: For the last several years Sir Elton John has had a residency at The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. This concert video captures several shows featuring songs from the superstar’s career.

Appetite for Democracy: Live at the Hard Rock Casino – Las Vegas (2014): Another rock video featuring Guns N’ Roses in a nearly three hours set from earlier this year. It’s hardly fair to call this band GnR as there’s no sign of Slash of Duff anywhere but Axl Rose still fronts them and that makes it still worth checking out.

Mat Brewster

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