Monday, 30 November 2009

I Spit On Your Grave to be remade

I wondered what would be next after The Last House on the Left was remade but never thought it would be controversial rape revenge movie I Spit On Your Grave.

I've made no secret of I Spit On Your Grave being one of my favourite Video Nasties, with its powerfully presented but ambiguous message sparking much-needed discussion of a difficult subject, so am a bit sensitive to a mess being made of it in pursuit of easy profit. It's hard to see the reasoning behind a remake until you consider the revenge murders of the second half and how the film could be changed considerably to concentrate on them - as seems to be hinted at by director Steven Monroe in an interview on - while the harrowing and unflinching rape scene of the first half could probably be dropped from the film altogether. While arguably missing the point this would at least be a different film, and one I'd be interested in seeing.

But I'm jumping ahead. Who knows what kind of remake Monroe will eventually come up with. In the meantime I'll get a review of the original, in both its cut and uncut incarnations, up on the site.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Feminist Exploitation

Kira Cochrane - who is called on so often by the Guardian to give a feminist perspective on horror films I'm hoping she'll be converted to the genre one day - writes about "feminist slasher" Jennifer's Body in today's edition. Unfortunately it sounds pretty unremarkable and not particularly feminist, despite the credentials of writer Diablo Cody, director Karyn Kusama, and indeed lead actress Megan Fox. I agree with Cochrane that a film really needs some sort of political subtext to become feminist, not just a few ballsy female parts, which often counter-productively reduce characters to femme fatale stereotypes anyway.

Cochrane lists a few interesting-sounding exploitation films she considers feminist, but I was disappointed to see no mention of The Witch Who Came From the Sea. Shall I send her a copy, or do you think that would look a bit weird?

Friday, 9 October 2009

Mountain of the Cannibal God

Director: Sergio Martino
Writer: Cesare Frugoni
Italy 1978

For the most part Mountain of the Cannibal God is an above average journey through jungle exploitation, using the simple premise of an expedition into deepest Papua New Guinea to give us naked natives, ritual animal slaughter, spliced footage of a monitor lizard regurgitating a snake (footage of a snake eating a live monkey is cut from the UK release) and other interesting mondo together with less convincing but nevertheless entertaining crocodile attacks, spiky jungle traps and spear-chucking indians. The setting is authentically rain forest, and although it fails to convey the vastness, isolation and danger of Papua New Guinea is nevertheless atmospheric and lush. Guido and Maurizio De Angelis superb score of squelching electronics, tribal drums and doomy strings will keep your interest piqued when the action flags, which thankfully doesn't happen as often as in most films of its ilk.

In the last twenty minutes we are introduced to the cannibals up in their mountain cave, in surprisingly well-handled scenes that reminded me of an ultra-low budget Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. A cast of tens swarms round the explorers (who include a very charismatic Ursual Andress, coming into her own in these final scenes) and at last we see a bit of gore, though the worst fate reserved for them - death by schaphism (warning: nasty) - is only alluded to, an unusually restrained approach for the genre.

It's not really much to praise a film for making sense, but compared to its contemporaries Mountain of the Cannibal God, despite a simple plot and premise, is a surprisingly coherent film that uses subtle plot devices to build a colourful, believable whole, especially towards the end when we are introduced to the cleverly drawn god of the title. In this it is a cut above the many Italian jungle exploitation movies of its era, in possession of a certain maturity and class despite being filmed with similar budgetary constraints. A credit to director Sergio Martino, this is a film I'd happily watch again, preferably on the big screen where it belongs - albeit in a dingy, flea pit cinema.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Criminal Literature

The last couple of years have seen a worrying surge in criminal prosecutions involving literature, whether over the offensiveness of the writing itself, or the belief that the fictional ideas expressed amount to planning notes for future real-life action - an approach that gives lie to not only a misunderstanding of art, but an apparent ignorance that art even exists.

The latter was evident in the prosecution of "lyrical terrorist" Samina Malik, who wrote poetry expressing violent Islamic fundamentalism, and more recently of Manchester schoolboys Ross McKnight and Matthew Swift, who wrote fantasies about a Columbine-style attack on their school. Both these cases were presented as planning exercises by the prosecution, despite there being no physical evidence of the means to carry out an operation and a distinct literary bent to the written evidence.

Harder to defend but perhaps more relevant to this blog is Darren Walker's story "Girls (Scream) Aloud" a violent, misogynist piece of pornographic writing about the pop group Girls Aloud posted to a specialist slash fiction website, which saw him prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act. Despite its frankly repulsive content, it actually isn't that far from "Girls (Scream) Aloud" to the violent celebrity fantasies in JG Ballard's "The Atrocity Exhibition" and "Crash". There are obvious differences in execution and content (not to mention quality), but it is difficult to deny Walker's claim that he similarly intended his work to be satire. The ambiguity of intent rears its head time and time again in censorship prosecutions, and gives lie to the difficulty of reducing art to objective legal terms and definitions.

In an intelligent opinion piece in Saturday's Guardian David Edgar asserts that it isn't actually a failure of logic - whether confusing fiction and reality, or attempting to bend artistic ambiguity into a black and white legal framework - that drives these prosecutions, rather an attitude that doesn't attach any importance to art, to the point of it being acceptable to ban or prosecute over a piece of work if there is the mere possibility of it being harmful. It's not an angle I've considered before, but does make sense in a country that has regularly banned art in the past on a seemingly ad-hoc basis for cheap political gain.

We can take hope from the fact that none of the three cases outlined above resulted in a successful conviction; but that the prosecutions went ahead on such spurious evidence reveals not only a disregard of whether it was right or wrong to do so, but an uncaring attitude to the effect it will have on the lives of the defendants, now tarred for life as terrorists, weirdos and perverts. Not surprising that a hostile attitude to art should extend to the artists themselves, but forgive me if I find the mentality behind it much more frightening than anything the defendants themselves produced.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Cannibal Apocalypse

Director: Antonio Margheriti
Writers: Antonio Margheriti and Dardano Sacchetti
USA/Italy 1980

A fun film with above-average production values that nevertheless isn't scared to use stock footage in proper exploitation fashion, Cannibal Apocalypse sees cannibalism brought to America by Vietnam vets in the form of a virus which then spreads, nicely merging the cannibal and zombie genres. Furthermore the sexualised nature of the cannibal attacks, usually carried out Dracula-style as the cannibal goes in for a kiss only to bite off a breast or a chunk of neck, brings in a bit of sexy vampirism as well - so what we have are essentially vampire zombie cannibals, breeds that aren't that far apart anyway when you think about it.

Cannibal Apocalypse's main drawback is the (relative) lack of gore and scares, but despite a bit of a lull in the middle it's a fast-paced, action filled movie with some good location work. The inevitable anti-climax as we move from the exciting "Delta Force"-style opening scenes in Vietnam to boring American suburbia is familiar in Italian exploitation horror, but a later supermarket siege and the film's climax in the city sewers are more imaginative than I've come to expect from the Video Nasties. It's home to some of the best unintended humour I've come across in the genre as well, a psychiatrist telling a woman concerned about her husband: "I always said you should have married me instead. But anyway, speaking professionally..." being one of the gems in a line-up that includes weeing on tear gas cannisters to put them out, a cannibal called Charles Bukowski and a romantic paedophile sub-plot for our main hero, played by B-movie legend John Saxon.

Most importantly the ingenious crossing of cannibals, zombies and vampires remains, as far as I know, unique in horror cinema - though god knows why, given how tired contemporary zombie films are becoming. The present paucity of imagination is underlined by the way this cheap exploitation film casually tosses it in as if coming up with new ideas isn't actually that difficult. The baffling failure of modern identikit zombie films to even copy this suggests that maybe it isn't.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Unenforcing the Video Recordings Act

Interesting news that the Video Recordings Act 1984, ushered in to ban the films on the Video Nasty list, was rushed through with such haste that the government of the time forgot to tell the European Commission, thus making it unenforceable. As stated in a piece in today's Guardian there is a wonderful symmetry between this cock-up and the idiocy of the act itself; and I can't help but think it makes the Video Nasty story, one of the most interesting episodes of horror history, all the richer.

Friday, 21 August 2009

The BBFC bans "Grotesque"

A quick mention should be made of the new Japanese horror film “Grotesque”, not one I was planning on seeing or had even heard of to be honest, though that has changed now “Grotesque” has attained instant infamy by being first film since the arthouse short “Visions of Ecstasy”, banned for blasphemy in 1989, to be rejected outright by the BBFC. This makes it the first horror film to be banned in Britain since the Video Nasty hysteria of 1984.

It was an article on that broke the news to me, in which BBFC director David Cooke is quoted as saying: ‘‘Unlike other recent ‘torture’-themed horror works, such as the Saw and Hostel series, Grotesque features minimal narrative or character development and presents the audience with little more than an unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism. The chief pleasure on offer seems to be in the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake… Rejecting a work outright is a serious matter and the board considered whether the issue could be dealt with through cuts. However, given the unacceptable content featured throughout cutting the work is not a viable option in this case and the work is therefore refused a classification.’’

I can’t really comment until I actually see the film (which I’ll certainly be doing now it’s been banned, along with a lot of other people I’d imagine). But let it be said that one man’s “unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism” is another’s unflinching and direct exploration of violence and its effects; as always, the difficulty of violence as a subject matter means there is no right or wrong way of addressing it. If nothing else, I’m pretty sure "Grotesque" will be of more artistic worth than the rubbish Saw films anyway.

Thursday, 20 August 2009


Director: William Lustig
Writers: CA Rosenberg and Joe Spinell
USA 1980

Like the previously reviewed "The New York Ripper", "Maniac" is one of those banned eighties horror films that doesn't quite fit into the Video Nasty category, having been banned by the BBFC on release rather than caught up in the 1984 scare. It's a gruesome, effective serial killer study that slathers on the gore and sets up some engaging and tense set pieces. With a purity that rarely deviates from a formula of pursuit and murder and wastes no time on boring detective work, "Maniac" is thankfully bereft of the filler that makes so many giallo-style horror films of its era a chore to watch.

Frank is the maniac, a lonely man living in a New York apartment, obsessed with his dead mother and murdering young women who remind him of her. He scalps his victims and uses their hair as wigs for a collection of dummies who stand in for his mother, but his character isn't just a Norman Bates rip-off - more interestingly, the killings themselves and the media panic around them take obvious inspiration from the "Son of Sam" murders that terrorised New York a couple of years before the film was released, grounding the film in real-life history. The seedy New York location work contributes to this, and as in "The New York Ripper" the city is one of the stars of the film, a tense pursuit through a run-down, empty subway station being a particularly effective scene.

The crude stabs at psychology that underwrite Frank's character are heavy-handed and played for effect rather than meaning, but a great final scene reminiscent of Polanski's 1960s obsession with madness (via some full-on Day of the Dead-style gore) is a reminder that more respected directors don't have that great a track record when it comes to understanding portrayals of mental illness either. "Maniac" is anyway a piece of exploitation horror that despite an intelligent edge makes no claims to be otherwise, and one that in its pared-down, action-packed approach succeeds rather well.

Saturday, 25 July 2009


Director: Lars Von Trier
Writer: Lars Von Trier
Denmark/Germany 2009

I'm going slightly off-topic reviewing Antichrist, but as the British press seem to have practically shit themselves in a spasm of outrage I reckon it's relevant enough, even if their anger seems rather quaint and thankfully impotent.

It's controversial of course, but as you might expect the grim bits are a bit of a distraction from the rest of the film, slightly unnecessary and – apart from one very shocking sequence – actually not that bad. I think people reading this blog are more likely to greet the sight of William Defoe spunking blood with hilarity than horror.

But what a gorgeous, atmospheric and downright creepy film they distract from. Dreamlike camerawork, sometimes subtly bending in LSD distortions at the edge of the screen, portrays the awesome nature of a woodland setting beautiful and terrible at the same time, hinting at a theme of chaos versus humanity and the greys imbetween that is unfortunately lost as the film descends into horror cliché, and more interestingly, some rather tacked-on and plastically controversial misogyny.

Von Trier is a director of immense talent with an unfortunate silly streak, and Antichrist is a film of these soaring highs and dullard lows. The subtle build-up when we are first introduced to the forest is filled with dread and wonder, while a talking fox elicited an audible groan in the cinema.

And the genital mutilation? One of the least interesting bits of the film, though it's pretty savvy advertising.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


The Sun has run a piece criticising the new, liberal BBFC and its passing of Lars Von Trier's controversial new film "Antichrist" for a cinema release. It's a rather confused argument, claiming to speak for an outraged moral majority while proclaiming anti-censorship credentials in the same breath. A weird circular logic claims that as it is a "torture porn" film (a term coined by newspapers like the Sun to market horror films that has nothing to do with pornography) then the BBFCs assertion that it isn't porn can't be true. In the end, the gist of the argument seems to be that there needs to be a new certificate for films worse than your average 18. A 21 perhaps? A 40?

What's interesting here is the schism between the old, outraged tabloid press and a newspaper fully aware that a substantial part of its readership wants to see films like this, all in the same article. It's like watching them being dragged kicking and screaming into maturity right before your eyes.

Monday, 22 June 2009

The Last House on the Left remake

Director: Dennis Iliadis
Writers: Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth
USA 2009

The remake of The Last House on the Left - one of the more infamous Video Nasties - has a lot of horror fans up in arms, but while it's a bit of a pointless exercise I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with remaking trashy old classics. In fact given the original's flaws, most due to the technical inexperience of director Wes Craven, there was every chance that a new version could complement the original nicely.

It doesn't quite manage that, mainly because it's a pretty badly-made film itself. The really glaring flaws of the original are gone - there are no slapstick police scenes, thank god; and the jumpy, scratchy editing has of course gone too, for better or worse - but compared to most modern horror films the remake, with its annoyingly aggressive and cheap sounding score, unengaging action scenes and functional dialogue has all the hallmarks of a modern B-movie. Pointless flabby sections imbetween the meaty bits are overlong and tedious, a familiar sight to the exploitation fan but one that's no doubt down to incompetence rather than a homage. Shame really, because like the original there is some merit here.

The infamous central scene that sees the drawn-out torture of two young women is present, and amazingly is even more brutal and unpleasant than the original. It's uncomfortable seeing these scenes rehashed in a release that is geared solely to making a profit, but to think the original had aims otherwise, despite its sketchy arthouse credentials, is to romanticise it. The questions that surround the use of such realistic and nasty violence in this way are much the same as when the original was released.

A more tangible success is the smooth linking together of the film's two main acts, the violent attack and the revenge that follows, an area of failure in the original which was just too muddy and badly-made to pull off the transition. The remake makes a smooth, coherent switch that feels much more believable. These two acts are famously reworked from Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, violence being avenged by more violence in a grim and unrelenting spiral, a comparison that I feel too much is made of in what is in effect a pretty straightforward revenge story. Wes Craven may have wanted to inject some intellectual weight into his movie by referencing Bergman but he didn't manage it, and the remake doesn't either.

The 1972 film shocked with its groundbreaking and original approach to horror: the only reason such a poor film is remembered with such reverence, and the only reason it has been considered for a remake. This renders the new version pretty pointless, a cash-in with little artistic merit. It is however executed with more competence, and placed side-by-side with the original it's the better film. It's a shame that it isn't as tight as it could be and still feels so cheap, as there was a real opportunity here to turn a bad film into a brilliant one.

That such a nasty cult horror movie has been remade for mainstream audiences, while losing none of its appalling brutality, poses the interesting possibility that there might be more new versions of Video Nasties to come. Modern audiences have more of an appetite for horror films than ever before, and rehashing cult classics certainly makes commercial sense. I can't think which of the Nasties are ripe to be remade, but then I wouldn't have thought The Last House on the Left was suitable either. Maybe someone else will have a go at that same film. I hope so, it feels like an idea someone should get right one day.

My review of the original Last House on the Left is here.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

The Burning

Director: Tony Maylam
Writers: Harvey Weinstein and Tony Maylam
USA 1981

"The Burning" is so straightforward it could be a government advisory panel example of the teenagers-in-peril slasher, with a summer camp of high school students being pursued by a maniac with a pair of garden sheers taking up the entire film with little deviation. This simplicity gives the film's other aspects plenty of room to breathe, with a great cast of believable youngsters and an atmospheric lakeside location setting the scene for some old school, bright-red gore (though surprisingly little actual burning).

It takes a while to get going but there are plenty of killings once it does, the garden sheers piercing throats and slicing off fingers, with one astonishing rampage of utter carnage aboard a canoe setting up a devastating scene when it drifts downstream towards the unsuspecting camp. It's filmed beautifully and leaves little room for complaint, but despite being one of the gorier nasties feels a little run-of-the-mill and predictable. Great by teen slasher standards, but falling short of the more intelligent films on the list.

Two things lift "The Burning" considerably: Rick Wakeman's electronic score is fantastic and does a lot for the atmospheric tone of the film, and while it's certainly Goblin-influenced it's a pleasant change to hear a good horror movie score that isn't by the Italian disco-prog-rockers. Secondly and perhaps most importantly "The Burning" stars a young Jason Alexander, aka George Costanza from "Seinfeld", who furthermore has a pretty big part. It's just a shame he isn't one of the ones chopped up with garden sheers. That would have been brilliant.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Original Nasties on Ebay

Google alerts has brought my attention to original VHS copies of some of the more infamous Video Nasties - Island of Death, Anthropophagus and the Beast in Heat - for sale on Ebay. Island of Death and Anthropophagus are going for an impressive £57.00 , but the Beast in Heat was sold for a whopping £575.85. The seller says:

"This is a rare opportunity to own what is considered to be the holy grail of the so called video nasties. The Beast in Heat (1977) AKA La Bestia en Calor/SS hell camp/Nazi holocaust/Horrifying experiments of SS last days.

I have searched for this on Ebay many times and have only found the US DVD under the title of SS hell camp. I am not saying that it has never been on Ebay, but if it has been it has been a very rare occurrence...

...This film has been in my possession for 20 Years plus and the picture quality is crisp (for video). The labels are firmly stuck down and look original. There is a Crown video label on the video itself, so this was once in the rental market. There are two sticker on either edge of the video cassette itself that read "warning tampering with this tape could result in loss of membership". these labels are unbroken and have not been tampered with. The sleeve itself is on good quality paper and does look original."

There is part of me that finds the idea of an original, pre-ban British VHS of a film as out-there as the Beast in Heat a tempting idea, but I'm not sure I'd spend close to £600 on it.

Also worth a look are the Ebay forum comments on the item, where this blog is mentioned. Did someone just call me a sick individual?

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


I've set up a Delicious account for the Video Nasty Project where I'll be posting any bookmarks relevant to the project. Please feel free to cross-post anything interesting from your own accounts - Video Nasties, horror films, exploitation cinema, censorship - it's all welcome. I've imported some of my own bookmarks to get things started.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Killer Nun

Director: Giulio Berruti
Writers: Giulio Berruti and Alberto Tarallo
Italy 1978

Despite a title that suggests a cheap exploitation romp, "Killer Nun" is a surprisingly tasteful production based on the real life story of a Belgian nun, who develops a brain tumour and murders patients in her charge to pay for black market morphine. The morphine angle is played down and the murders played up, with the brain tumour a cause of temporary psychosis that bequests the film a handful of wonderfully surreal Argento-esque murder scenes, spatters of red blood on the dreamy white-and-cream of the rest of the movie.

But while it is subtle, beautifully filmed in parts, and home to some decent acting from La Dolce Vita's Anita Ekberg as Sister Gertrude, I don't want to praise Killer Nun too highly. The workmanlike way it plods through the story makes its eighty minute running time seem a lot longer, and for the most part it plays as an erotic thriller in the mold of Emmanuel and other softcore of the period but without that much actual sex, and the promise of a lesbian romp with Sister Metheus, played by the stunning Paola Morra, that never materialises.

The Argento-influenced death scenes are what makes Killer Nun worth a look. The first gory murder is accompanied by Alessandro Alessandroni's superb twisted disco theme music and sends a shiver up your spine, while a later drawn-out acupuncture torture scene reminded me, with its shallow depth-of-field close-ups and excruciating tension, of Fulci at his best. The dazed atmosphere and muted palette of the rest of the film compliment these scenes perfectly. It is just missing the dynamism that makes the best horror an edge-of-your seat experience even when there isn't anything horrific happening, the gaps filled with flabby storytelling and boring dialogue - a common problem with Video Nasties, but one I'm learning to ignore.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Real Cannibal Ferox

I never really considered that the Cannibal exploitation genre had its basis in anything other than racist myth, my understanding being that cannibalism was restricted to complex cultural rituals for dealing with the dead in some isolated tribal societies. However CNN is reporting a pretty gruesome tribal cannibal murder in the Amazon after which the victim's family "saw his body quartered and his skull hanging on a tree".

I'm intrigued as to how often these reports surface and how many of them turn out to be true. Were the Cannibal exploitation films inspired by reports like this - or more interestingly, are the reports inspired by the films?

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Cannibal Ferox

Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writer: Umberto Lenzi
USA 1981

Watching the UK release of Cannibal Ferox - cut by a massive five minutes - I came across a problem I thought would have reared its head a lot sooner: a film that has been more or less ruined by the censor's cuts. It still makes sense and there's the odd bit of gore, but the film is so obviously constructed around its nastier, missing scenes that the entire point is lost completely.

I have an uncut version as well (for some reason dubbed in German, which is why I hadn't watched it) so skipped through to take a look at the scenes that are supposedly so horrific they cannot be seen by British eyes. There is some unpleasant animal cruelty which of course would have had to go, and an eye-wateringly nasty sequence where a female character is suspended by the breasts from metal hooks, but other cuts are pretty tame by today’s standards. An eye-gouging scene isn't as bad (or anywhere near as effective) as the one in Zombie Flesh Eaters, and the castration and torture scenes have since been surpassed by relatively mainstream films like the Hostel series. This is a film that would probably benefit from being resubmitted to the BBFC.

Cannibal Ferox isn’t particularly good. It blatantly rips off Cannibal Holocaust, released a year earlier, from plot, characters and anti-Western sentiment right down to the butchery of a turtle, all done with none of the flair, art or melancholy of its infinitely better predecessor. As such it is a proper exploitation movie and possibly of interest culturally, but couple the low quality with the BBFC’s cuts and you get a supremely pointless piece of cinema.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Cannibal Holocaust

Director: Ruggero Deodato
Writer: Gianfranco Clerici
USA, 1980

I'm glad I waited until I got hold of an uncut version of this film, and saw it in its full glory without knowing much about it beforehand. It's a powerful, intelligent piece of work, and as one of the more purely exploitative Video Nasties I've seen so far raises some interesting questions about this kind of titillating, mondo film making.

Cannibal Holocaust is split into two acts. The first follows a latter-day explorer to the Amazon as he tries to discover the fate of an earlier expedition. This section is filmed traditionally with fairly high production values, and despite some very nasty scenes promises a pretty run-of-the-mill early eighties horror. The second half is made up of the “found footage” of the previous, doomed expedition, and is where the film gets interesting.

This innovative device was famously a big influence on the Blair Witch Project, and it shows. While Blair Witch refines the technique, the basics are very much the same. It is strange that it took so long for Cannibal Holocaust's influence to filter through, but this can probably be explained by the film's reputation. For a long time it was seen as an exploitation too far, despicable and beyond the pale, and there's no doubt it is a tough film to watch.

The sexually violent scenes are graphic, drawn out and brutal, but I've discussed the ins and outs of this here before so will concentrate on Cannibal Holocaust's infamous animal cruelty scenes. Crucially, these are depictions of actual animal cruelty made for the film, not faked or spliced from documentary footage.

The scene I'd heard most about was the dismembering of a live turtle. Whilst pretty gross (it's certainly put me off eating turtle), the turtle's death is relatively swift, and it doesn't really amount to much more than butchery. A pig is shot and a monkey has the top of its head chopped off – these are worse, as the animals are obviously in distress, but death is still swift. Worse for me was the slow killing of a muskrat in one of the film's opening scenes. The animal screams and fights pathetically for its life, a horrible sight that makes you feel witness to an actual murder. Watching this cruelty perpetrated for entertainment made me think about the countless times its been enacted for my culinary enjoyment. Thankfully now animal cruelty on film is pretty much internationally banned - but given our diets, maybe that itself is a little hypocritical.

These scenes place Cannibal Holocaust firmly in the exploitation genre, and make it one of its most notorious and vilified examples, but the film's found-footage second half gives them a bit of a twist. It shows a group of young explorers' brutal and racist interactions with an Amazonian tribe. There are echoes of the Vietnam War in their attitude, with one scene referencing the My Lai massacre. They are obsessed with filming their actions, and in doing so remove themselves from the cruelty they inflict.

Flashes to a cutting room in New York where TV executives talk about the found footage and its televisual possibilities are heavy handed and remove any subtlety, but do make it clear what Cannibal Holocaust is about: our obsession with violence as titillation, and film as a conduit for this. These ideas are a forerunner of those presented in more recent films like "Man Bites Dog" and "Funny Games". In this light, the animal cruelty scenes take on complex meaning as we begin to question our motives for watching them, in what is perhaps a more brutal exploration of film violence than the aforementioned, more respected and “intelligent” horror movies.

Cannibal Holocaust is another great Video Nasty, an important, ground-breaking and brave film sidelined and vilified for its honest and daring exploration of violence and its meaning. Aside from this it is a cinematic joy, the found footage section being particularly tense, pacey and – unusually for a Video Nasty – bleak and nihilistic. Riz Ortalani's amazing soundtrack, an incongrous mix of “Love Story” style mournful strings and pinging synthesised snares, lift the film from cold horror to a strangely sad look at humanity in all its dysfunction.