Cannibal Holocaust is a 1980 Italian cannibal exploitation horror film directed by Ruggero Deodato from a screenplay by Gianfranco Clerici. It stars Carl Gabriel Yorke, Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, and Luca Barbareschi. Influenced by the works of Mondo director Gualtiero Jacopetti, the film was inspired by Italian media reporting of Red Brigade terrorism. The coverage included news reports Deodato believed to be staged, an idea which became an integral aspect of the film's story. Cannibal Holocaust was filmed primarily in the Amazon rainforest of Colombia with indigenous tribes interacting with American and Italian actors.
The film tells the story of a missing documentary film crew who had gone to the Amazon to film cannibal tribes. A rescue mission, led by the New York University anthropologist Harold Monroe, recovers the film crew's lost cans of film, which an American television station wishes to broadcast. Upon viewing the reels, Monroe is appalled by the team's actions, and after learning their fate, he objects to the station's intent to air the documentary. The presentation of the film team's lost footage, functioning similar to a flashback, revolutionized the found footage style of narrative filmmaking, later popularized by such films as The Blair Witch Project.
Cannibal Holocaust achieved notoriety as its graphic violence aroused a great deal of controversy. After its premiere in Italy, it was ordered to be seized by a local magistrate, and Deodato was arrested on obscenity charges. He was later charged with making a snuff film due to rumors that claimed some actors were killed on camera. Although Deodato was later cleared, the film was banned in Italy, Australia, and several other countries due to its portrayal of graphic brutality, sexual assault, and real depictions of violence toward animals. Some nations have since revoked the ban, though it is still upheld in several countries. Critics have suggested that the film is a commentary about civilized versus uncivilized society.