Jungle Holocaust (Ruggero Deodato / Italy, 1977):
(Ultimo Mondo Cannibale; Last Cannibal World; The Last Survivor)

Intentionally or not, Italian cannibal gorefests are grindhouse parodies of the Mondo films in which explorers invent the exotically repellent extravaganzas they profess to document. Ruggero Deodato understands it, and here lays out the gross format that would be Cannibal Holocaust's central theme. The cast-whittling mission finds an airplane full of chowderheads in a Malaysian island, where reports of a "stone-age tribe" are to be gorily substantiated. The teamís opposing poles, researcher Massimo Foschi and survivalist Ivan Rassimov, are separated in the jungle; Foschi is promptly captured by aborigines possibly modeled after the Morlocks in The Time Machine. As heís stripped and jabbed and bound and made to flap his arms like a tropical bird, one canít help notice camera placements that are unaccountably close to Malickís in The Lost World. Animals are always getting the worst deals in cannibal pictures, and Deodato contrives to get a serpent and a bat to duke it out in close-up before recreating the communal pig slaughter of Bertolucciís 1900 with a crocodile (the reptiles get their turn via a gross-out baby joke later on). Foschi escapes with the help of a native gal with Beverly Hills-made cans (Me Me Lai), then rants about the technology back home: "You donít have to do a thing. Itís all electronic!" Perverse peddler that he is, Deodato wrings lyricism out of the climactic disenbowelment only to offer the protagonistís surrender to rape and liver-munching as a mirror of the audience's basest appetites. Those who miss the hideous punchline are, of course, the ones who deserve Cannibal Holocaust. With Sheik Razak Shikur, and Judy Rosly.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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