The director of Cannibal Holocaust had to prove in court that the actors were still alive and didn’t get killed during the movie.
Well before Blaire Witch did the same trick (ie. making a film that purported to be real) in 1980 Director Ruggero Deodato came up with Cannibal Holocaust 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. It was mainly filmed in the Amazon rainforest of Colombia with indigenous tribes interacting with American and Italian actors.
The film’s story is of a missing documentary 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. All very similar to The Blair Witch Project approach!
It worked rather too well! Cannibal Holocaust achieved notoriety as its graphic violence aroused a great deal of controversy, and scenes such as the impalement scene above led to speculation that the people from the Amazon had been killed in the film’s making! After its premiere in Italy, it was ordered to be seized by a local magistrate, and Deodato was arrested on obscenity charges. Deodato was later cleared, but 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.