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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Ian Carsia at 11:31AM   |  Add a comment
Screenshot from Ruggero Deodato's "Cannibal Holocaust" (1980)

Blog posting written by Ian Carsia, Cinema & Photography '14, FLEFF Intern, Hamilton, NJ

 Part III: Cannibal Holocaust

 

Ruggero Deodato has been accused of making some of the most vile, morally reprehensible films of all time.

The cinematography and special effects of 1980's Cannibal Holocaust were so realistic that Deodato was charged with murdering his cast and imprisoned.
 

The film features rape, genital mutilation (of both men and women), disembowelment, dismemberment, and, most notoriously (or noxiously) the torture and slaughter of real animals.

At one point, a member of the cast takes a shotgun and shoots a pig in the face. It squeals and squirms gutturally, dying slowly.

Sergio Leone loved it.

One of the earliest found-footage/faux-documentary films, the 'filmmakers' are portrayed as callous sociopaths who burn down a village and rape/impale a native girl in order to fake a tribal war.

They get their punishment in the end. And you don't feel any better.

You ask yourself, "Why?"

"Do I not feel better because I don't take pleasure in watching brutal torture, rape, and murder?"

"Or do I not feel better because I don't think they got as much as they deserved? Was their punishment not long enough?"

"And what is their punishment for? For exploiting the natives, or for exploiting the audience and their 'reality hunger' for murder, death, and rape?"

Bay may be an auteur, but he's no genius.

At one point in the film, NYU anthropologist Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman) asks to see the previous works of the filmmakers. The executive of the TV station planning to edit and release the found footage shows him a clip from the fictional documentary The Last Road to Hell.

The Last Road to Hell is actually just some cobbled together footage of Third World war and execution. It is the only portion of the film that features actual human beings being murdered.

And yet the TV executive informs Monroe (and, thus, the audience) that "Everything [we have seen] was a put-on." The documentarians had asked the soldiers to "do a little acting".

In Cannibal Holocaust, we are told that the fake footage is real, and that the real footage is fake.

On the audio commentary for the Grindhouse Releasing DVD, Deodato defends his killing of real animals by stating that they were all eaten.

"That's not the point," says Kerman in an exacerbated sigh.

But that is the point.

"You thought I was tricking you into thinking you were watching a snuff film," says Deodato.

"Really, I was tricking you into thinking you were being tricked. Do you feel better?"

Deodato's follow-up film, The House on the Edge of the Park, is often characterized as a rip-off of The Last House on the Left, a contemporary of similar rape-and-revenge movies like Night Train Murders and I Spit On Your Grave.
 

It is vastly 'superior', though that word doesn't work at all for this particular type of film, for all its contempt of the audience.

The House on the Edge of the Park asks us to empathize with the blue-collar rapists. They lash out at the bourgeois sluts and queers who have invited them to their party only to blue-ball and mock them.

It is revealed at the end that the supposed victims have actually constructed an elaborate trap to avenge the death of one of their friends.

Yes, the men have been beaten and emasculated. Yes, the women have been assaulted and raped.

Worst of all, they have enjoyed it.

This is Lina Wertmuller's Swept Away as an exploitation film.

Ten years after the September 11th attacks, the American consciousness is still attempting to relive its death and rape.

We want to be in control of our past. Our global and moral supremacy will not allow us to admit that we were the victims of a violent mental crime.

To admit that we are victims is to admit that we have no control of our own lives, that our deaths are just as imminent and irreversible as those of the invisible people who populate the shanty towns of Michael Bay movies.

So we reason that we were complicit in our own mental terrorism.

Not only did we want 9/11, we now want it bigger and badder with even greater, more morbid explosions and collapse.

We want our robot-alien-truck-mutant-terrorist-rapists to inflict their mental crimes on us again and again.

Death isn't a tragedy. It's a joke, a meaningless excursion to Luna Park.

Luna Park. Dark of the Moon.

Some people are offended because Remember Me and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close use 9/11 as a shorthand to justify our empathy for poorly written characters.

Some people are offended by the rotation of 9/11 footage and specials that 24-hour news stations play every anniversary.

I am offended because every other day of the year for the past ten years, 9/11 has been on every movie screen, billboard, YouTube video, TV Spot, newspaper/magazine ad, and iPhone app.

Act of Valor, a movie about a massive terrorist attack being averted, was a pleasant respite.

 

 

 

On March 27th, Dr. Debbie Martin and Dr. Brad Hougham will be performing as part of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.

One of the selections they will perform is "Wade In the Water."

Ah! Liberation! The slow struggle from physical and mental slavery towards the light of equality, self-respect, and freedom.

To the glimmering morning dancing on the troubled waters.

 


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