The infamous 1980 horror film Cannibal Holocaust’s director, Ruggero Deodato, passed away at 83. The Italian media announced his passing on Thursday.
Deodato had a long film career and worked in many different genres, but he is best known for his gory horror movie, which was outlawed in several nations and even led to his being tried for the murders of his actors.
The “found footage” pseudo-documentary genre was also pioneered by Cannibal Holocaust, which claimed to be the video of an American film crew’s excursion into the Amazon jungle. The movie gained notoriety for its representations of excessive brutality and torture and its actual cruelty to animals, including the killing of monkeys and a coati on-screen.
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After an article claimed that some of the murders in the movie were true, the film was seized by local magistrates less than a week after it was released in Italy. Deodato was prosecuted for murder and obscenity. After Deodato presented the allegedly deceased actors in court, the murder accusations were withdrawn; nonetheless, he and the film’s financiers were found guilty of animal cruelty; this conviction was later reversed in 1984.
Cannibal Holocaust was on the infamous list of “video nasties” in the UK. The Video Recordings Act of 1984 effectively outlawed it after it was made available on home video in 1982. Ultimately, it received a certificate and was published in 2001 with five minutes chopped; it was rereleased in 2011 with all cuts undone save for a 15-second sequence of an animal dying.
In an interview with the Guardian in 2011, Deodato defended the animal abuse sequences. Growing up, I spent much time in the country with animals, so I frequently witnessed their demise. Even though it was heartbreaking, especially to someone with a modern metropolitan perspective, the animals were always killed to provide food for the cast or crew, both in fiction and in real life.
Deodato additionally disclosed to the Guardian that the 1970s terrorism in Italy served as inspiration for the movie. “The Red Brigades were active during the time. There were graphic depictions of people killed or injured on TV every night. Not just murders but also some lies. To shock people, they were making the news more dramatic.
Deodato, who was up in the southern Italian town of Potenza, served as an assistant director on several Italian movies in the 1960s, including the classic westerns Django and Ringo and His Golden Pistol by Sergio Corbucci. The 1976 poliziotteschi cop thriller Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man, the 1977 horror movie The Last Cannibal World, and Cannibal Holocaust are among the comedies, crime flicks, and musicals he went on to direct.
The torture thriller The House on the Edge of the Park, influenced by Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left, was Deodato’s next “video nasty” after the latter gained recognition. The slasher Body Count, starring seasoned American actor Charles Napier, and the thriller The Washing Machine followed.
Deodato played a cannibal in a brief cameo in the 2007 American horror film Hostel Part II. In the 2019 anthology film December, he received his most recent credit.