HERE BE CANNIBALS: A Brief History of Cannibalism in Cinema

As we here at Midnight Madness count down the days until the premiere of Eli Roth’s highly anticipated Green Inferno, we thought we’d take a walk down memory lane and take a look at cinema’s historical appetite for cannibal flicks.

Was it something I said?
Cannibal stories have been told since the age of colonialism, but the late 1970s saw a peak in popularity for cannibal films, ushered in by Mondo cinema and several Italian filmmakers who made enough of them to call it a subgenre. The most notorious of these was Cannibal Holocaust, directed by Ruggero Deodato in 1980. In a style that would come to be known later in horror circles as ‘found footage’, Cannibal Holocaust featured a group of anthropologists on a trip into the wild where they expect to observe and study the primitive ‘savages’. The irony of Cannibal Holocaust (and of several films of its ilk) is that the visiting whites often exhibit much more savage behavior than the natives do, which ticks them off and inspires an appropriately savage reaction.

Other noteworthy figures in the cannibal cinema subgenre include Jesus Franco (Mondo Cannibale - 1980), Joe D’Amato (Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals - 1977) and Italian b-movie kingpin Umberto Lenzi, who contributed Mangiati Vivi! (Eaten Alive!) in 1980 and Cannibal Ferox in 1981. These films drew censorship woes like flies to a dungheap, and the cannibal subgenre eventually fizzled into obscurity… until now.

You wanted yours rare, right?
Green Inferno director Eli Roth announced his plans to direct the film at Cannes in 2012, and has cited Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox as his major inspirations for the film. Does anyone else smell a resurgence cooking?

Green Inferno premieres Saturday, 11:59PM at the Ryerson.

THE GREEN INFERNO Screening Times:
Sat, Sept 7th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Mon, Sept 9th, 1:30 PM SCOTIABANK 13

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