As a Horror aficionado AND an animal rights activist, am I the only one who’s slightly disappointed by the fact that Grindhouse Releasing is giving Cannibal Holocaust a Deluxe Edition Blu-Ray release in July?
I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I oppose censorship in any form—I loathe it with a passion. What makes Cannibal Holocaust such a slippery-slope for someone like me is that the film is infamous for its cruelty to animals. A monkey, a giant sea-turtle, and other animals were slaughtered on film—all in the name of entertainment. There was a time when my rage over this would have me condemn Cannibal Holocaust completely (“Burn it and bury it!”) but I have since come to terms with its existence. It’s hard to find any excuse for this type of animal exploitation, but it was a different day and age (1980). There are plenty of things our ancestors did that modern folks would find appalling. And in the film world, there is precedence: Apocalypse Now shows a live animal being submitted to ritual slaughter. It’s a difficult scene to endure, but its artistic impact is undeniable—and no one has ever called for a ban of Apocalypse Now.
Some might have a point in accusing me of hypocrisy: Condemning Cannibal Holocaust while forgiving Apocalypse Now for the same infraction. Is it the fact that Cannibal Holocaust is a crappy B-Movie whereas Apocalypse Now is high art? If that’s the case, then do films deemed artistically superior have carte blanche to assassinate innocent beings? Of course not! Today, animal cruelty is unforgivable in any situation. My disappointment stems for the royal treatment Cannibal Holocaust is receiving.
Read the rest of my opinion after the jump.
Even without the Blu-Ray, Cannibal Holocaust is already one of the most infamous Horror movies ever made. People are drawn to it for exactly this reason. Fine, it’s a free society and people are free to choose their own entertainment. If you want to see Cannibal Holocaust for yourself you can buy a plain old DVD on Amazon right now. But by giving Cannibal Holocaust a re-release that includes new artwork and a bevy of special features (including the soundtrack!), Grindhouse Releasing is, in a very direct way, benefiting from the film’s cruelty to animals. Also, by re-releasing this particular film, Grindhouse is intensifying the mystique surrounding it. It gives the impression that Cannibal Holocaust is worth revisiting, that it’s historically important, that it has notable artistic merit—that it should, essentially, be celebrated. No, it absolutely should not!
Besides being morally problematic, Cannibal Holocaust is a really bad movie; poorly written, poorly made, and poorly executed. Its little more than a tittie-flick, the kind of movie that panders to the lowest common denominator and gives the entire Horror genre a bad name. In addition to the animal rights violations, this film is also downright racist in its portrayal of indigenous South American tribes. It’s simply not worthy of a re-release based on any sort of artistic merit. Which is further proof, in my opinion, that Grindhouse Releasing is simply in it for the money-grab. This re-release will clearly pique the curiosity of younger Horror aficionados who will buy this Blu-Ray simply for its controversial history.
It’s not that Grindhouse Releasing is doing anything wrong in principle—after all, violent and offensive films are their forte. But aren’t there better examples of this sub-genre that are more deserving of release or re-issue—films that don’t hack innocent animals to death? Films that actually have important messages buried in the subtext? Of course there are! Therefore, I challenge Grindhouse to find underappreciated gems that deserve recognition as opposed to glamorizing those that would best serve society by fading into obscurity.
It’s not like anyone is saying, “Let’s forgive O.J. and make him a star again,” so why is Grindhouse ready to forgive the filmmakers responsible for Cannibal Holocaust? Three words: Money, Money, and Money. And I have little doubt that Grindhouse stands to rake in a ton of it. It’s a prudent business decision—I just hate the fact that it lets animal killers off the hook for their crimes, painting them as cinematic pioneers instead of the cheap, cruel hacks they really were.
Hey Grindhouse, how about donating all the profits from this Blu-Ray release to an animal rights charity? Yeah, fat chance!
I am not including links to Cannibal Holocaust or Grindhouse Releasing on purpose. I don’t want any part of it—and the thought of inadvertently adding to the buzz surrounding this film (thereby encouraging purchase of this Blu-Ray) had me questioning whether to even publish this article at all. I hope I don’t come to regret it.
If anyone else out there is interested in setting up a grassroots FaceBook campaign to bring this point of view to a wider audience, I would be happy to participate.