Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 105 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Vesna Kuiken


Cannibal film, exploitation film, film studies, Horror film, Jacques Lacan, Psychoanalysis, Cannibalism in motion pictures, Motion pictures, Italian, Subject (Philosophy), Object (Philosophy)

Subject Categories

Film and Media Studies | Psychology


“The Gaze of the Consumed: A Lacanian Approach to the Italian Cannibal Films” not only acts as a brief chronicle of the subgenre of Italian exploitation films centered around cannibals, but as an exploration of the constructs that hold such a subgenre together. With a foundation in Lacanian psychoanalysis, this essay discusses the ramifications of assigning terms such as “savage” and “civilized,” as well as the issue with entering into such a discourse with presupposed Western notions of civility. The Italian cannibal films exemplify the circular nature of the mere anthropophagous act, putting forth the conceptualization of the “Gaze of the Consumed,” a continuation of the traditional Lacanian gaze. In conjunction with theoretical frameworks from Michel de Montaigne and Hayden White, the “Gaze of the Consumed” offers a new perspective on the subject-object relationship, as it becomes apparent that in the act of cannibalism, any subject can be an object simultaneously - and vice versa. From Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 magnum opus of the genre Cannibal Holocaust to Eli Roth’s 2015 homage The Green Inferno, the cannibal genre offers a view of the “artificial” and “natural” worlds, as well as puts forth the complication of the artificial natural, a median position between both worlds. In the grander scheme of cinematic study, these Italian exploitation films give credence to the reciprocal relation between the eater and the eaten, questioning “who the real cannibals are” as the imperialized world enters fully into the Anthropocene.