Sunday, April 25, 2010
Last Cannibal World (1977, Ruggero Deodato)
When discussing, Ruggero Deodato's first foray into Cannibal cinema, Ultimo Mondo Cannibale (Last Cannibal World), comparisons to Cannibal Holocaust are inevitable. Cannibal Holocaust is one of the most notorious films of all time for its brutal depictions of inhumane acts against humans and animals. Last Cannibal World however is much less known and was an early entry in the Italian Cannibal craze started by Umberto Lenzi's Man from Deep River. According to Deodato, Last Cannibal World paved the way for him to make Cannibal Holocaust which alone makes it an important film.
Ultimo Mondo Cannibale is the supposed true story of Robert Harper (Massimo Foschi), an oil prospector who travels deep into the jungles with his associate Rolf (Ivan Rassimov), pilot Charlie and Charlie's girlfriend Swan. They land the plane to find that the colleagues they were supposed to meet are nowhere to be found. Soon after, Swan disappears and Charlie is killed by a trap set up in the jungle. Robert and Rolf find Swan being eaten by a cannibal tribe and get split up. Robert is captured by the cannibals and soon realizes if he doesn't escape, he'll end up as lunch. He seeks out one of the female tribe members to help him escape.
Last Cannibal World, known to many Americans as Jungle Holocaust (which is the title on Shriek Show's DVD, probably to cash in on Deodato's more famous cannibal epic), is an interesting film. Though not as brutal as Cannibal Holocaust, it has its fair share of gross out and just plain weird scenes. First of all, Foschi's character is naked through most of the film and when he is first captured and stripped by the natives, they poke and prod his uncircumcised weiner in wonderment. In fact, most of the natives are naked throughout as well. This film, like most cannibal films of the era, has several scenes of animals being slaughtered or animals killing other animals. Never a fun thing to watch unless you are fucked in the head, the worst scene of which showed an alligator (or crocodile, I can never get them straight) being cut open while still alive. They are even nice enough to show its heart beating from the inside. According to Foschi and Deodato, all of the animal scenes were filmed by the producers after principal photography was completed. Considering the number of scenes in the film that have animals being killed is so high, this claim is suspicious. Overall though the story and the remaining scenes were actually quite watchable and entertaining. Foschi's character trying to find a way out of this mess without becoming cannibal chow is definitely the highlight of the film and his slow deterioration into savagery was well done. It was a solid film that had its flaws but was still entertaining.