Released in 1980, Cannibal Holocaust was one of the most controversial movies of all time. 

The violent and horrifying scenes involving animals and the actors raised many eyebrows and even got the film banned in many places. The same level of cruelty is hardly found in any modern Hollywood film.

Robert Kerman

Thanks to the stringent anti-cruelty laws in place for animals, a modern Hollywood film can hardly shoot ghastly and cruel acts inflicted on the animals these days. However, Cannibal Holocaust defied a lot of sensibilities by showcasing extremely violent scenes in the eighties. 

The film is considered to be one of the most unpleasant films ever produced because of its frightful depictions of cannibalism and animal slaughter. 

About Cannibal Holocaust 

The film follows a team of filmmakers based in the United States into the Amazon basin. They were in pursuit of a previous expedition team who vanished while investing cannibal tribes. 

The climax of the movie was equally gruesome and the entire film was full of genocide, sex, real-life executions, torture, murders, and rapes. 

However, what was most horrifying in the film was the real-life slaughter of animals. Ruggero Deodato, the director of the film was even prosecuted in Italy with charges of killing a few actors.

The director disproved the allegation by producing one of the missing actors to the court. He was, however, penalized with a fine for showcasing gruesome animal cruelty. Further, the film was banned from viewing for three years. 

It is believed that Deodato made his main actors sign an agreement demanding that they should stay away from the spotlight for a year after the release of the movie. 

Carl Gabriel Yorke, one of the actors mentioned in an interview, alleged the director was extremely unkind while filming the scenes of the movie, suggesting he often engaged in incredibly long and bitter arguments with his actors and crew. 

Animals Were Slaughtered For Real

Things were a bit different way back in 1980. Savage animal deaths were frequent and authentic in films. Cannibal Holocaust also came under the scanner for killing wild animals brutally. One notable disturbing scene in the film was when the actors brutally kill a huge sea turtle among other animals.

This happened despite procedures and guidelines being in place for preventing animal cruelty on film sets. Some organizations have been keeping a close tab on productions in Hollywood since the 1940s. 

However, those rules could not be enforced as the major part of the film was shot on the Amazon basin. It was perhaps due to this that many animals shown in the film had a brutal and bloody end. 

Prevailing Anti-cruelty Animal Laws In The United States 

All American states have a law for the prevention of animal cruelty except for two states. Cruelty laws typically to animals used in films or other media. 

For instance, Washington considers it to be a Class C felony when substantial pain is inflicted on any animal. A film producer is thus prevented from using any means including an electric prod to force an animal to perform in a particular scene. 

According to California law a person, who intentionally or maliciously wounds, tortures, maims, or kills a living animal can be subjected to a maximum fine of $20,000 or can be sent to jail.

Additionally, a few states in the United States have laws in place, which criminalize the shooting of animal cruelty. These states include Maine, Illinois, and California. 

While Cannibal Holocaust was undoubtedly a controversial film in many ways, it is also true that modern producers in Hollywood have become more cautious while shooting with animals, thanks to the strong anti-cruelty laws in place.