Sick Thrills and Twisted Politics in The Green Inferno

Eli Roth's latest vom-com is a must-see for anyone who doesn't mind puking up their popcorn.
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Eli Roth's latest vom-com is a must-see for anyone who doesn't mind puking up their popcorn.
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“People were selling human meat as street meat!” says Eli Roth, the 43-year-old torture-porn auteur best known for his Hostel franchise. What began as a conversation about New York’s culinary scene has very quickly devolved into a rambling history lesson on the brutal Liberian civil war.

Roth’s new film, The Green Inferno, his first foray into the cannibal-horror genre, is a loving homage to the notorious and widely banned 1980 Italian exploitation film Cannibal Holocaust. The new movie follows a team of college-age activists into the Amazon rain forest, where they’re systematically devoured by the very tribe they set out to save from extinction.

“I was inspired by the Kony 2012 campaign,” says Roth. “Suddenly all of these ‘slacktivists’ are tweeting about a cause, not because they care but because they want to appear like they care. I wanted to see those types of kids get their asses handed to them, literally.” And, boy, do they. One character is eaten alive, sashimi-style, by a pack of stoned natives with “the munchies.” Another, the token fat guy, is meticulously dismembered, roasted, and served, apple in mouth, like a suckling pig.

The intended moral of this horrific smorgasbord? Lazy do-gooderism is a capital crime.

Like the makers of Cannibal Holocaust, Roth cast native villagers as his bloodthirsty savages. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that he has already come under fire from real-world activists, who say his misleading depiction of indigenous people makes it easier for outsiders to justify taking their land. Isolated tribes in Peru, for instance, are increasingly threatened with extinction due to development projects in their area. Recently, Amazon Watch denounced the film as racist. Roth doesn’t seem to mind—he’s already planning a sequel.