Sunday, May 11, 2008

Eureka -- I've found it!

It's been a long, hard journey, but I have found it: the worst movie ever made.

Throughout the years, various critics have compiled lists of what they consider the worst movies ever. I've seen many of these pictures, which are indeed bad, but all have paled in comparison to the steaming pile of dogshit that is Cannibal Holocaust 2.

Before you point this out, I'll acknowledge that you're right -- anything called Cannibal Holocaust 2 really wasn't shooting for the Academy Awards in the first place. But this movie moves beyond the fun, party-atmosphere badness provided by sheer camp and exploitation and elevates awfulness to an entirely new plane of existence. I'm unsure if I even have the vocabulary necessary to explain how truly god-awful this film is.

Okay, some background information. First, I only recently became aware of what is now known as the "Cannibal Boom" of the late 1970s, during which directors (almost exclusively Italian) churned out a surprising number of cannibal-themed movies to grindhouses and drive-ins across the U.S. Cannibal Holocaust, which made its way to theaters in 1979, was considered the grisly pinnacle of the short-lived trend -- and it also was the first movie (at least that I know of) to use the faux-documentary style (a la The Blair Witch Project and, more recently, Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead) to lend the film an air of realism.

It inspired a host of knock-offs, including the thoroughly unpleasant Cannibal Ferox and, naturally, Cannibal Holocaust 2.

The original Cannibal Holocaust is gruesome almost all the way through, and I'm not proud of having seen it when all is said and done. But it's Bridge on the River Kwai compared to the sequel, which begins in a Brazilian courtroom where a young woman is on trial for murder. The majority of the action takes the form of flashbacks as she provides testimony detailing the murder (and decapitation) of her parents and her subsequent abduction by a tribe of "headhunters." As the story -- such as it is -- unfolds, she eventually falls in love with one of the tribesmen and exacts revenge on her parents' real murderers (who aren't the natives at all... that's a spoiler, but I'm not ruining this for anyone, because hopefully you will never, ever waste the hour and a half watching this piece of celluloid garbage).

There's not much else to it, really. Being one in the long line of Italian horror exports, it's horribly dubbed and the acting makes your local elementary school's last Christmas pageant seem like something fit for Carnegie Hall. The heroine narrates some of the scenes and provides the kind of commentary you'd expect from the explanatory boxes in Archie comics. The whole thing is remarkably boring, and winds up being something of a fake documentary on a tribe of people who do not exist. The film also has an almost childlike racism to it.

In short, this is a film that has absolutely no redeeming characteristics. It's awful from start to finish and from top to bottom. And it's so boring that you can't even laugh at the hideousness of it.

I'm not sure what it is, but I have a certain love for truly horrible movies -- I got kicks out of obscure camp horror movies like Slugs and Blood Beach, and the Friday the 13th movies are a hoot. For whatever reason, a movie can at some point move beyond bad and into this weird "good" category, where you enjoy it for its hilarious awfulness. However, Cannibal Holocaust 2 moves beyond bad, skips over that weird "good" category, and dives headfirst into a whole new level of horrid.

I had read that it is considered the last of the cannibal movies, and now I understand -- Cannibal Holocaust 2 was actually bad enough to destroy an entire subgenre of film. That sounds like exaggeration, but trust me, it isn't.