Tuesday, January 12, 2016

It’s No Cannibal Holocaust, or I Watched The Green Inferno, So You Don’t Have To

The first thing you need to know is there’s absolutely no good reason for you to be watching Cannibal Holocaust (1980), unless you’re some kinda midnight movie snob completionist like me and have to see everything.  Even after 36 years the movie is hard to watch, more of an endurance or a marathon than actual entertainment.  You should know that I have a crazy high tolerance for violence and gory scenes, so if I tell you it’s hard to watch, believe me, it’s hard to watch.  The Italian movie is about a film crew making a documentary entitled The Green Inferno about cannibalism in the Amazon Rainforest.  The resulting film was banned in the UK until 2001, and the filmmakers were brought up on allegations of making a snuff film in Italy.  Though ultimately exonerated, the charges, along with worldwide censorship only served to increase the film’s reputation and influence future generations of filmmakers like James Wan (Saw, 2004) and Eli Roth, who together created the torture-porn subgenre, or revived grindhouse cinema.
Eight years after Hostel (2005) and starring in Inglorious Basterds (2009) as The Bear Jew, Eli Roth returns to the director’s chair with his version of Cannibal Holocaust, referentially entitled The Green Inferno (2013).  The premise is similar and slightly updated to acknowledge the Internet, viral videos and the social justice warrior phenomenon.  A group of unsympathetic and spoiled college kids trek down to the Amazon Rainforest to protest deforestation and get shot by poisoned arrows, tested for virginity, chopped up, cooked and eaten one by one.  Now that sounds far worse than it plays, and that’s my primary criticism.
The Green Inferno is far more mainstream and tame when compared to its source content, Cannibal Holocaust.  The gore and cannibal scenes are almost tasteful, pun intended, especially considering that this is the fella who directed Cabin Fever and Hostel.  It’s almost as if, I don’t know, a focus group or the producers were attempting to present a friendlier version of Eli Roth in order to craft a wider appeal and offend less people.  And my attitude is, if you’re going to make an homage to Cannibal Holocaust, your job as a director isn’t over until you have been vilified, censored and brought up on charges.  Instead, no one’s really discussing this movie three years later, and Cannibal Holocaust continues its undefeated and bloody reign as one of the world’s most disturbing films.
But more importantly, I really believe that in the 21st Century it is difficult, if not impossible to make a movie about an indigenous tribe dining on First World westerners without appearing racist and colonial.  Speaking as a person of color I would have been much happier if they had moved the whole thing over to an isolated island off the Scottish Coast and just had white people eating other white people.  Sort of like The Wicker Man (1973), but you know, with more cannibals.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.