You know a movie is no joke when its director gets arrested on obscenity charges after the flick’s debut. Back in February of 1980, Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust premiered in his homeland of Italy to outbursts of condemnation, with charges labeling the found-footage horror movie as a snuff film. It’s all make believe, of course, but even today it’s pretty damn hard to tell the difference.

Cannibal Holocaust is set-up as footage from the lost tapes of documentary filmmakers who entered the Amazonian rainforest and never returned home. In Deodato’s fucked imagination, they run across flesh-eating tribesmen and their National Geographic-nude women; their primitive nature is exemplified in a bit where a few savages impale a younger female by ramming a long spear through her derriere and out of her mouth. Feel free to upchuck. The primitive sickos then rape the documentary crew’s female member before decapitating her and chow down on one of her male colleagues. And, yes, Deodato shows it all, no questions asked.

Most films from the early ’80s seem cheesy by modern standards, but not Cannibal Holocaust; featuring a cast of no-names and tons of authentic-looking slaughter, it genuinely feels like jungle-feverish snuff footage. It’s one of those movies that if owned on DVD is best hidden underneath the skivvies at the bottom of your underwear drawer.

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