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Saturday, July 12, 2014

ITALIAN HORROR WEEK: THE GRINDHOUSE RELEASING CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST BLU-RAY REVIEW

You know what the worst thing is about the goddamn turtle scene in Cannibal Holocaust? That that has become the focus of the discussion regarding the brand new Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray package. I feel like I’ve touched on Cannibal Holocaust as a movie plenty, and our good friend Eric Martin discusses it alongside Jungle Holocaust aka Last Cannibal World in this double feature Deodato cannibal retrospect. Recently I did a video discussion for his Guts and Grog’s 2 Extremes Week in which I compared it to Disney’s Robin Hood. I had a blast doing it too. We’ll let Eric discuss the movie proper this week. I’m going to focus on the release, what you get inside that set and some general opinions about the movie.

PACKAGING:

Cannibal Holocaust comes in a slip sleeve case featuring the iconic impaled native embossed on the cover featured in a three color display. It’s the perfect way to scare away the folks who can’t handle what might be inside. Think of it as the first line of defense. What Cannibal Holocaust release would be complete without the WARNING label affixed to the front advising that shocking and violent subject matter is inside; no one under 17 should view this film. It also touts, in addition to the title, the words “The Most Controversial Movie Ever Made”. I’ll agree with that to a point, and won’t hazard a guess as to what might be considered more controversial. This is a Grindhouse Releasing offering so the back will display some of the better extra features, a couple of teaser stills and some quotes.



The package contains a CD in a slip sleeve featuring classic Cannibal Holocaust artwork. Track listing on the back. All credits point to our recently departed composer of honor, Riz Ortolani.







The Blu-rays come housed in a rather ingenious array for two movies to fit comfortably without moving parts or hinges and preserves the left hand space for the booklet included with the release. Also included (and this absolutely bears mentioning) is an advertisement for Rotten Cotton’s new Cannibal Holocaust T-shirts and Tenebrarum publications booklets. Both of these companies are worth supporting and will add to the overall enjoyment of the Cannibal Holocaust experience. The new designs for the Cannibal Holocaust tee-shirts including a more “child friendly” version (sort of) are genius. We are giving one away alongside this Blu-ray during Italian Horror Week. You get to pick the style and size assuming supplies last.


Each of the discs is displayed as an old film can, drenched in blood with the title on it (including the CD packaged in the separate slip sleeve). It’s looks fantastic. Juicy. Mondo. The artwork on the case itself is reversible. The front is of a young woman surrounded by cannibals with a shirt on, somewhat exposing her breasts. On the reverse, the same image with gorgeous breasts a-poppin’ This is one of my favorite Cannibal Holocaust art pieces and is featured on the aforementioned Rotten Cotton apparel available for purchase.



THE BOOKLET:

The booklet opens with an introduction from Eli Roth called “A Subversive Masterpiece”. There is a contingent among the Italian Horror fans that dislikes Roth and considers him to take great liberties with the work of their beloved foreign horror genre. Love him or hate him (we love him here) he is committed to the display and projection of Cannibal Holocaust, a fan and student of Ruggero Deodato’s work and a friend of one of the great Italian filmmakers. His words in this package are respectful though admittedly humorous at times. He conveys a sense of respect for the release itself and its rather sorted history. He is also exceptionally knowledgeable about the production of Cannibal Holocaust and the controversy that came after. His words are pure tribute and recollection. I’m excited to see his upcoming film, Green Inferno (whose title derives from the documentary featured in the movie Cannibal Holocaust) more than I was before; something not altogether easy to do.

Also included are the words of Chas. Balun from DEEP RED World Headquarters no less. Balun may have passed away but his words live on in his matter of fact, no bullshit reviews of movies in his publication Deep Red and subsequent volumes of horror film discussion. The entry chosen to discuss Cannibal Holocaust is exactly what you’d come to expect from Balun. It’s harsh and gritty and as honest as they come with picture perfect portraits of this brutal flick painted in feces and lacquered for consumption by the eyes. Witness the words of a great man, a great reviewer and one who has inspired all of us as bloggers, writers or film enthusiasts whether we know it or not. His piece entitled “In The Belly of the Beast” is a warning and recommendation.

Gergley Hubai, a music historian, discusses the late Riz Ortolani in a bio about the man who created the perfect counterbalance to Cannibal Holocausts vicious nature. In “Mondo Cannibal” Hubai discusses the man and his music in depth. You’ll understand the reason for every note in the production after you enjoy this brief words.

In the next piece, “From Screenplay to Film” by Martin Beine, the writer discusses differences between the script of Cannibal Holocaust and what was actually put on the page. That is to say that there are scenes that are shot completely without the aid of a script. There is improve. The movie is missing scenes that might have otherwise offended (offended more I should say) the producers on this picture. You’ll beg for the piranha scene no matter how much you really won’t get it. You’ll have a few more questions than you might before reading it. The mystery continues.

The booklet is filled with poster art and stills and contains a chapter list on the back page. The foldout, centerfold picture of the impaled native from the front cover is laid on beautiful read satin sheets. The books is a 24 page walk into the green inferno.


THE QUALITY:

While extras will vary in quality the primary release is perfect. I own several versions of this movie and this is by far the best quality release I have come across including a step up from the Grindhouse Releasing DVD release that has been out for some time. I have not enjoyed the Shameless Blu-ray to offer an accurate comparison, but the Grindhouse Releasing edition does exceed in overall edition content and packaging (more later).

This is a new hi-def digital restoration of the original director’s cut of the picture. The audio tracks both the digital stereo and original mono are both top notch. Pick how you want to enjoy it. AR: 1.85:1

DISC 1 FEATURES AND EXTRAS:

There are two different version you can watch: the original theatrical or the animal cruelty-free version. I see no reason to watch the cruelty-free version, but I’m glad that G.R. included it. I like to think of it as the gateway drug to an especially shocking film. Also, it makes it easy to identify the pussies among you. Also, animals are great. We love animals. Watching them die can suck. Maybe you simply want to be entertained and not shocked; that’s why this other version exists.

Audio options include a stereo re-mix of the English language track. DTS HD Master Audio 2. I enjoyed this version very much. There’s also and original mono soundtrack in DTS-HD Master Audio 1. There are two commentary tracks: Ruggero Deodato and Robert Kerman (the star) and Carl Yorke and Francesca Ciardi. The Deodato/Kerman track is really special. They discuss the movie, recollections, Kerman is one funny motherfucker and cracks a few jokes but you can still hear him gasp at the animal cruelty scenes. Deodato has an interpreter at times during the commentary track. He sheds light on everything from the why animal death could be included in this release during that time period, how certain shots came about and anecdotes. You tend to hear quite a bit about Deodato; that he isn’t the nicest person to talk to at conventions. The interviews and commentary track on this disc should assuage all your fears. He’s a kind man.

The special features on disc one include the alternate scene from Last Road to Hell, the documentary created by the filmmakers in the movie Cannibal Holocaust that was created previous to their endeavor into the jungles of South America. It contains a few different shots and different captioning/labelling. You also get the International, Italian, German, US Original and US Re-Release trailers (you can play them all).

DISC 2 FEATURES AND EXTRAS:

Disc 2 features an extensive hi-res still gallery. Many of these you’ll be familiar with has they are the most popular images from this release. The galleries are separated by category: Production Stills, Behind the Scenes, Promo Materials by country (Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan and others), Video Releases which focuses on packaging for home releases and Mondo Cannibal which features news and other media coverage stills.

The interviews are tremendous and voluminous. I mean there are a lot of friggin interviews. Personal favorite is the Robert Kerman interview. That guy is irreverent and a consummate professional. Interviews include:

Ruggero Deodato – Cleveland April 1, 2011

Robert Kerman – New York, November 13, 2000

Carl Yorke – Palo Alto, May 16, 2005

Francesca Ciardi – London April 29, 2010

Salvatore Basile – Cartagena, Columbia January 8, 2014

Riz Ortolani Rome, April 15, 2003

Roberto Forges Davanzati – Rome, April 29, 2010

Ruggero Deodato Cinema Wasteland Panel Apri, 1, 2011

Francesca Ciardi Q&A – Glasgow, October 13, 2010

Yorke and Deodato Reunion – Los Angeles, April 18, 2009

Kerman and Deodato Reunion Tarrytown, November 11, 2000

There is a complete Grindhouse Releasing Trailer Reel to be played individually or all at once. It includes trailers from some classic DVD as well as newer Blu-rays. Make sure to enjoy Massacre Mafia Style and Gone with the Pope, to trailers that are as entertaining as the movies they are created for. They are perfectly funny and brilliant. All Hail Duke Mitchell.

Make sure to check out the credits and thank you’s. I think they are very telling. Also, special shout out to former Italian Horror Week contributor Tad Leger for kicking ass on the DVD packaging design. We are enamored with your work, sir.

EASTER EGGS:

I don’t want to spoil it, but I believe there may be as many as nine hidden gems on this release per the advertisement. Look for the picture of the angry native fella. So far I have found five (I see you Joseph A. Gervasi, Dan Fraga and Nick Lombardo!). Each was an enjoyable extra and if the count at eight holds, I will have to continue my hunt. They are there. Just click around some of the menu options to locate them.

THE MOVIE:

The first time I watched Cannibal Holocaust was in my living room, drunk. I laughed out loud until I started realizing that they were actually killing animals. Then I put my pizza down and started really paying attention. I couldn’t believe what I was watching. There’s nothing like putting a bunch of strong IPA’s in your belly and then sitting down to watch a sea turtle get hacked to bits, especially when I had no preconception that it was going to happen. Up until that point my knowledge of Cannibal Holocaust could solely be attributed to the advertising found in a VHS bootleg catalog I had ordered from the back of Fangoria when I was kid. That catalog was my bible. The cover of Cannibal Holocaust stuck out to me from the moment I saw it (almost as much as the large breasted topless nun on the reverse page).

I watch this movie a couple of times a year like any good horror fan, and I enjoy it every time. I find it frightening because it speaks to the worst in human nature. It nearly offers no hope and is a mirror for issues involving the media and human nature that we still struggle with to this day. I love that I’m grossed out by it in all facets and I have come to terms with the animal death though I don’t love the thought of animals being killed on a movie set. Different time. Different place. I eat meat all the time. Why is it any different?


Every time you watch this movie you can find something new. You can see a new effect that works so well you didn’t realize it was an effect. You can see a different organ removed from your favorite loveable animal. You can almost smell the cocaine. What’s more is that the Blu-ray of this release is crystal clear. It is a thing of beauty that has been preserved properly, and I thank Grindhouse Releasing for the chance to enjoy the most perfect version I can possibly imagine in my own home. As a fan of the movie and the releasing company I say thank you.


From the moment I see the Grindhouse Releasing logo center on the traditional coming attractions psychedelic swirl of colors I get excited no matter which release I am watching. They’ve put their heart and soul into this release. All their guts. Their reputation is on the line. Their reputation has been upheld. For a company that only stepped into the Blu-ray age this last year, they’ve truly mastered the art of the format and of the presentation of cult releases. I will recommend this release to fans of cinema, to fans of Italian Horror and to people who like to think while their being made to launch of their vomit bag (perhaps the only thing not included in this tremendous release).

You can order Cannibal Holocaust from DiabolikDVD now. It’s a very reasonable price to boot! REGION ABC!!!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Dr. Jimmy TERROR,

    I enjoyed reading your detailed review and I would like to thank you for mentioning "tenebrarum" and even adding a link to my homepage. I really appreciate it!

    Thanks a lot,

    ciao,

    Martin

    ReplyDelete