How realistically gory is Cannibal Holocaust? Director Ruggero Deodato was investigated by Italian police for making a snuff film, and he had to produce his still-living actors to prove otherwise. The granddaddy of the found footage genre, Cannibal Holocaust is a true litmus test for gorehounds, a movie that breaks even the most hardcore horror fans. Some of that comes from the film's use of real animal violence, but much of it comes from the fact that the movie is unrelentingly violent.
When a film is that violent any deleted scene takes on mythical qualities, and such is the case with the fabled Piranha Scene. What could have been too much to be included in a movie like this? It turns out the Piranha Scene wasn't cut from Cannibal Holocaust because it was too gross. It was cut because the crew just couldn't make it happen.
The sequence would have come early in the film, after the film crew first encounters the two primitive tribes battling it out. A survivor of the losing side is captured, has his wounded leg amputated and then is tied to a log, which is slowly lowered into a river. The piranha in the water swarm, and he is deliberately and painfully eaten alive. It would have been an incredible sequence of evil and torture in a movie that is brimming with that sort of good stuff, and it would have perfectly straddled the tone between pulp adventure and gore horror that makes for a fun scene. Sadly, it never happened because the piranha were impossible to work with - divas! - and because the underwater camera malfunctioned.
There are stills of the sequence, like the one above, but as far as I can tell substantial footage has never popped up. Rumors have long swirled that one foreign release or another has the sequence intact, but that feels like a leftover from the days when Cannibal Holocaust was released in a patchwork fashion, with some countries straight up banning it and some countries demanding draconian edits. But who knows - somewhere some collector may have footage that will revolutionize how we look at the revolutionary cannibal masterpiece.