Spooky Soundtracks: Cannibal Holocaust

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It’s finally October, a month best known for bloodshed, candy stuffed with razor blades, and scaring all of the little kids on the block shitless. As we inch ever closer to All Hallows’ Evening your resident mustache bear thought it would be fun to go through some of his favorite horror movie scores. Wear a costume, pass out treats, don’t blow out any jack-o-lanterns, check your candy, and hold on to your butts: It’s Spooky Soundtrack time.

This week we’re diving headfirst into the sounds of Italy’s most iconic slideshows of despair, Cannibal Holocaust. Cannibal Holocaust is a movie that has earned quite a reputation for itself, built on the eerily realistic deaths of its stars and the very real deaths of several animals. A mere ten days after its premiere, the film was confiscated, and director Ruggero Deodato was charged with obscenity. After an article from a French magazine alleged that some of the actors killed on screen were actually killed on film, the charges were changed to include murder. Deodato, after having the actors sign a contract agreeing not to appear in any media for one year in order to give the film the feeling of ACTUAL found footage, eventually had to have his actors break that contract and give an interview on an Italian television show to prove his innocence.

Needless to say the film has a number of memorable aspects, but one that really jumped out at me upon my last viewing was the soundtrack. Created by Riz Ortolani, perhaps best known for this score as well as Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye and House on the Edge of the Park, the soundtrack presented is pretty much all over the place stylistically. Like most Italian films of the time, Cannibal Holocaust trades in the driving synth that dominated most American horror of the decade for strange guitar driven numbers and jazz like flourishes. The opening track for example is a beautifully unassuming acoustic guitar number that gives way to some tripped out, soaring keyboards.

After lulling you into a false sense of security, it hammers you with the most chilling track in the film, and one of the most hauntingly gorgeous horror themes in the history of schlock cinema. Opening with low, slow and oppressive synth, strings eventually slide in and take the track into a downward spiral of maddening depression. All the while strangely time synth beeps sound off in the background, adding an unnerving element of chaos to the number’s whirlwind of sadness.

Nothing too crazy just yet, I know, but that’s only because the soundtrack takes a little bit to get to some of the more eccentric numbers. Eventually you’re greeted with the rockin’ lounge stylings of the track “Drinking Coco,” complete with an absolutely ripping solo. Well, absolutely ripping for a jazzy rock style lounge number in a cannibal film, anyway.

Then of course there’s a track that I think can be best summed up as a pure porno number. It opens with a fat wah riff (think bow chicka-wow-wow) drenched it absolute sleeze before eventually turning into some strange kind of sexed up version of the Charlie Brown theme. Seriously.

Like I said, Cannibal Holocaust certainly isn’t lacking in diversity musically. There are certain themes that are revisited later on, such as “Adultress’ Punishment” or “Main Title,” but overall the repetition is relatively rare and Cannibal Holocaust is better for it. Italian horror films, especially the wave of cannibal films, are such a strange beast that an eccentric soundtrack like this feels almost necessary. Though the songs fall all over the music spectrum, they never really feel out of place during the movie and really help to enhance the violence and sheer insanity of what is happening before your eyes. At the end of the day, what more could you want from a horror soundtrack?

More porno tracks, that’s what.

What’s your favorite soundtrack to eat human flesh to? Do you eat it raw or cook it? Sound off in the comments below. I’m asking for a friend.

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  • Vote for Jeb

    I’ve never actually seen this movie.

    • Me neither. The real-life violence towards animals is a turn-off.

      • KJM, Shake Zula

        Even if it didn’t have that, the movie would still suck.

        • JamesGrimm

          yyyeeeppp

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        word 365!

      • Leif Bearikson

        Totally understandable. The animal scenes are…rough, to say the least.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      It’s meh. The only real notorious thing about this movie, is all the animal murder on film.

      • Vote for Jeb

        Yah, it always seemed to me to be one of those movies that wouldn’t live up to the hype.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Yeah, it doesn’t. I was pretty bored watching it.

      • FuckMeInTheEar666

        Well, it was notorious for its fake violence, sexual or otherwise, being one of the nastiest popular films of its era. Doesn’t hit so hard nowadays of course but its notoriety was quite genuine.

        • Welcome to the Toilet!

          GL

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Oh, I know. The film was confiscated, banned, etc.

    • Haven’t seen the original either, but I saw a crappy unofficial sequel shot in the Venezuelan Amazon jungle.

      Like every thing in my country, is funky and bad.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZZLRCwU2Iw

      • KJM, Shake Zula

        It’s probably better than the original.

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        funky and bad cept you and your peeps bro!

    • KJM, Shake Zula

      Don’t bother, total garbage.

    • Same here although I’ve heard about it but I never knew the backstory until now.

    • FuckMeInTheEar666

      It’s pretty sweet, but inessential unless you’re really into classic exploitation. I know a few regular horror fans (that don’t much like exploitation) that rate it highly, but really it’s just shock fare with laughable gesturing at a message.

      • Leif Bearikson

        My most recent viewing was a few years ago, but I think it held up pretty well. The story was better than I remember, but pretty on the nose (“I wonder who the real cannibals are?”)

        It really is an acquired taste though, and that poor turtle will forever haunt my dreams.

  • Mmm. Good movie. Mean while… While ya’ll be getting down and gory, I be getting down and sensual in my cubical area. *Heavy Breathing intensifies*

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X79NuiuTPc0

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      You’re a very erotic man.

      • I like my Fuck Time.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Your Fuck Time should be precious to you.

          • Goddamn! That’s a great quote.

    • Guacamole Jim

      Paula Cole >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      https://youtu.be/OrezS96xtZY

      • Yes, Paula Cole has a damn good voice and I’m a sucker for a good female singer voice.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          The bitch needs to shave her pits, though. Just saying.

          • I don’t understand why chicks do that.

          • Vote for Jeb

            It isn’t as wide-spread of a practice outside of the US, and some women don’t feel the need to conform to societal pressure regarding a “hairless” standard of beauty, I guess. Shaving is a very white American middle-class thing.

          • We have plenty of Amish woman here. It’s something to see for sure.

          • Vote for Jeb

            Amish folk make fantastic pies.

          • Yes, baked goods in general.

          • This is true, my buddy dated a girl who didn’t shave her pits, dyed the hair purple for flavor. She was cute however.

          • Vote for Jeb

            One of our friends doesn’t shave her legs for the very reason of not conforming to superficial beauty standards.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            If ain’t white, it ain’t right!

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            Lambgoat is down the hall to the right. ^_^

          • What the shake said. Other places are gonna be way more tolerant of ironic racism.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            I’m sure he was just joking.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Of course I was. Sarcasm 101.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            The only hair I can’t cope with on a woman is legs. Otherwise, I don’t care really.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            It’s cunting confounding.

          • ME GORAK B.C.™

            GORAK FIND MODERN SMOOTH LADY HOT!!!!!!!

          • Vote for Jeb

            McNulty…

          • ME GORAK B.C.™

            ???

          • people think you’re me

          • ME GORAK B.C.™

            ME ONLY HEARD THAT BEFORE FROM TUXEDO BIRD THING!!!!!!

          • Meanwhile, Macñulti is chill:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eRBFkxgG7g

          • Gorak has been talking about seeing shows in Ohio and Michigan. I think he has vetted himself…

          • ME GORAK B.C.™

            GORAK NOT NEED SEE VET!!!!!!!

          • Same here bro.

          • but… but… Dagon

          • Dagon

            We need to talk

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            What’s up fish?

        • KJM, Shake Zula

          If you haven’t checked out Purson, you should for precisely this reason.

          • I did after you recommended them. I liked it. Some killer Pychedelic doomy rock n roll.

          • nice to hear some love for Purson! most people don’t dig them, especially folks who paid to see Ghost (do we call this the Slayer Effect?)

          • I only heard a few songs honestly, but it was alright.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            They got an ok reception in Boston. I made sure to stop by the merch table and show them some love after the set.

          • same. they were doing group pictures with fans but i couldn’t wedge my way through the crowd. did you get one?

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            One good thing about HoB Boston: It’s freakin’ huge. I could’ve hung out with Rosie and Sam during the whole intermission but I didn’t want to look like some kind of creepy stalker.

          • ME GORAK B.C.™

            GORAK HATE HOB CLEVELAND!!!!!! LIKE AGORA BETTER!!!!!! SMASH FUN POLICE AT HOB!!!!!!!

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            Agreed. I can’t stand House Of Blues, but it is a big mostly comfortable place.

          • ME GORAK B.C.™

            AND GET GOOD SHOW!!!!!! HARPO IN DETROIT STILL WORST SHIT HOLE SEE BAND!!!!!

          • Thanks Obama!

            Like 15 years ago my brother & I parked our car right in the front of Harpos, thinking we got the best parking spot. Only after the show, we were told no one parks out front, because cars get completely vandalized. Glad I found out afterwards!

          • ME GORAK B.C.™

            GORAK LIKE GET THERE EARLY & TAKE GIANT DUMP FOR FLOOD BATHROOM!!!!!! HAAAAHAAAAHAAAAHAAAAHAAAA!!!!!!!!!

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            Here’s a pretty ballad featuring some primo Rosie.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK0ogXFZYdg

      • shit son, you beat me to it. this whole show is unfuckwithable

  • KJM, Shake Zula

    I’ll pass. Cannibal Holocaust is total shit on a level with I Spit On Your Grave(a movie I couldn’t finish) and Last House On The Left(people actually consider this a horror movie?). Listen to some Fabio Frizzi or Goblin instead.

    • Vote for Jeb

      I watched one of the versions of Last House on the Left many years ago. I honestly can’t remember if it was the new one or old one.

      I was more horrified by Jackass 2.5, which I watched immediately afterward.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Out of those three I prefer I Spit on Your Grave. But collectively, they’re still meh.

    • FuckMeInTheEar666

      Cannibal Holocaust and I Spit on Your Grave are actually pretty well shot and skillfully constructed as 70’s exploitation cinema go, Last House on the Left is bush league film-making and doesn’t really compare (much as I love it). And whatever distaste for the movie aside, Cannibal Holocaust does have at least as good a score as any Frizzi or Goblin work.

      • KJM, Shake Zula

        All the technique and virtuosity in the world can’t turn shit into gold. David Lynch proved that with his version of Dune.

        As much as I love Nightmare On Elm Street and Serpent & The Rainbow, Wes Craven(Dio rest his soul) may be the most overrated horror director ever, him and M. Night Shyamalan.

        • Vote for Jeb

          This may be heresy, but…

          I feel like Wes Craven made a few genuine gems and a whole ton of crap.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            Especially Scream. Even Scary Movie was better.

          • Scrimm

            Honestly don’t really like any of his movies.

          • Vote for Jeb

            I wouldn’t fault you for that.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            Phantasm blows ’em all away except for ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Serpent’.

          • Scrimm

            Easy.

          • Scrimm

            DOWNVOTED for Ghosts of Mars

        • FuckMeInTheEar666

          See, I like rape revenge and cannibal films. That’s good times to me.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            Nah, don’t like that stuff at all. There’s no challenge involved in making movies full of blood, guts and gang rape. Anybody with a camcorder, a blow-up doll, and Karo syrup can do that.

          • FuckMeInTheEar666

            Of the popular favourites or even second tier items in either subgenre the only film that springs to mind that actually fits that description is the original Last House on the Left and even that has terrific villains. Good nasty cinema takes an often underrated level of talent for structure, editing (timing/discretion) and framing, writing and direction of actors. Not that there isn’t tons, tons of untalented shit out there. I’m not trying to say you’re wrong for not liking the whole sort of scene though. Shit’s a little niche.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            Oh, I appreciate the technical challenges involved in making any kind of movie. One false pebble or dust mote and you have to set up an entire sequence again, and again. I’ve had some experience with video and film production. It’s tedious stuff.

        • Serpent and the Rainbow is such a great movie <3

          https://38.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ln2kekxwr41qcqpbqo1_500.gif

        • Don’t forget Scream, so bad I cannot even sit through it.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            Ugh, back then I was the only one who had a rental account that wasn’t deep in the red so I had to rent Scream with my account so we could all watch it. Herbs would’ve been withheld if I’d refused. : (

      • I was about to say something along those lines. I saw I Spit On Your Grave recently and it’s very creatively shot for that time period. The scenery goes well with the story.

    • BobLoblaw

      I always thought of those two as more suspense films. Not really horror. Or maybe im wrong and Deliverance is horror as well.

      • KJM, Shake Zula

        At the very least, Deliverance is a much better movie.

        • BobLoblaw

          Agreed. Just commenting on the difficult nature of movie genres.

  • “There are certain themes that are revisited later on, such as “Adultress’ Punishment” or “Main Title,” but overall the repetition is relatively rare and Cannibal Holocaust is better for it”

    This is a great point and something that can completely ruin the immersion in a tv series or movie if the music doesn’t have enough tracks to NOT recycle or revisit them every 20 minutes.

    Inception does a great job of taking one musical theme and revisiting it all throughout the film, but because it exemplifies a different side of the music every time, it works. Versus the debut episode of One Punch Man using an identical music track 3 times to build up “suspense/tension” in one 20 min episode.

  • Guacamole Jim

    This soundtrack is cool. I watched about half of this movie back in the day, but got kinda bored and turned it off. I shoulda paid more attention to the music though, because this is awesome stuff!

    • i watched it in college, so my memory may be rusty…
      but i believe the first half is just the tourists visiting the place and the carnage doesn’t kick in til half in or later

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I’ve never seen this movie. I don’t plan on it.

    • KJM, Shake Zula

      I’m KJM and I approve this message.

      • Based Pingu

        THIS MAN IS NOT KJM BUT AN IMPOSTER! WHY WOULD KJM NEED TO SAY THAT HE’S KJM?

        • KJM, Shake Zula

          Shhhh

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Why KJM, why?

  • Love the soundtrack to Planet Terror, not exactly spooky but the sax is killin it in the main theme.
    http://youtu.be/FZ0Yowz0ykU

  • Count_Breznak

    Professor, I recognize these teeth !

  • @Occams_Razor_Ramon:disqus i’ve listened to the whole thing once or twice now, and it’s RILL GUD! love that orchestral part that’s repeated a few times, reminds me of RHPS for some reason

  • Girl I’ve been seeing showed me this movie. The soundtrack was the worst part cause it often times was louder than fucking everything else going on.

  • Dagon

    Synths, man.

  • InfinityOfThoughts

    I remember watching a random scene of this movie with a woman having her vagina penetrated repeatedly with a rock…i think I’ll pass on the rest of the movie.

  • CT-12

    Soundtrack is undeniably good, but I refuse to watch this movie. Watched “Dawn of the Dead” and “Zombie” last night, both have rill gud soundtracks.

  • Waynecro

    Back when I was a drunk teenager trying to watch every horror movie, I never managed to find Cannibal Holocaust. These were the pre-Internet days of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.

  • Cannibal Holocaust was a fucked up movie but I found it to be quite interesting. Though I hate the real animal violence (except the spider – fuck spiders), it is really an example of how debased humans can be. With Columbus Day just having passed, it shadows something similar to what Christopher-Dickhead-Columbus did.