The original controversy that surrounded the film's release was the belief that Cannibal Holocaust was an actual snuff film, or that the actors were murdered in order to film their deaths for the movie. The film was confiscated ten days after its premiere in Milan, and Deodato was arrested. The courts believed not only that the four actors portraying the missing film crew were killed for the camera, but that the actress in the impalement scene was actually skewered in such a manner. To make matters worse for Deodato, the actors had signed contracts with him and the producers ensuring that they would not appear in any type of media, motion pictures, or commercials for one year after the film's release in order to promote the idea that the film was truly the recovered footage of missing documentarians. Thus, when Deodato claimed that he had not killed the group, questions arose as to why the actors were in no other media if they were alive.
The film's impalement scene was examined by the courts to determine whether the special effects were genuine.
Eventually, Deodato was able to prove that the violence was staged. He contacted Luca Barbareschi and told him to gather the other three actors. After he voided the contracts in order to avoid life in prison, Deodato brought the foursome onto the set of an Italian television show, which satisfied the courts. He still had to prove, however, that the impalement scene was merely a special effect. In court, he explained how the effect was achieved: a bicycle seat was attached to the end of an iron pole, upon which the actress sat. She then held a short length of balsa wood in her mouth and looked skyward, thus giving the appearance of impalement. Deodato also provided pictures of the girl interacting with the crew after the scene had been filmed. After they were presented with this evidence, the courts dropped all murder charges against Deodato.
Although Deodato was EXONERATED for murder, the courts decided to ban Cannibal Holocaust because of the genuine animal slayings, citing animal cruelty laws. Due to this ruling, Deodato, the producers, screenwriter, and the United Artists representative each received a four-month suspended sentence after they were convicted of obscenity and violence. Deodato fought in the courts for three additional years to get his film unbanned. In 1984, the courts ruled in favor of Deodato, and Cannibal Holocaust was granted a rating certificate of VM18 for a cut print. (It would later be re-released uncut.)[8
· 1 decade ago