Ruggero Deodato, director of notorious horror Cannibal Holocaust, dies aged 83 | Film

Ruggero Deodato, director of notorious horror Cannibal Holocaust, dies aged 83 | Film

Ruggero Deodato, director of the infamous 1980 horror film Cannibal Holocaust, has died aged 83. Italian media reported that he died on Thursday.

Deodato had a long film career and operated in a variety of genres, but remains best known for his terrifying horror film, which was banned in many countries and even resulted in his trial for murdering his actors.

Cannibal Holocaust was also a pioneer of the “found footage” pseudo-documentary genre: it was supposed to be footage found by an American film crew’s expedition into the Amazon jungle. The film became famous for its extreme violence against animals, including the on-screen killings of monkeys and a coat, as well as its depictions of extreme violence and torture.

Less than two weeks after its release in Italy, the film was seized by local magistrates and Deodato was charged with obscenity and murder after an article claimed some of the film’s deaths were real. Manslaughter charges were dropped after Deodato sued the supposedly dead actors, but he and the film’s backers were convicted of animal cruelty — a ruling that was overturned in 1984.

In the United Kingdom, Cannibal Holocaust was included in the infamous “video of evil” list. After being released on home video in 1982, it was effectively banned under the Video Recordings Act in 1984. It was finally granted a certificate and released in 2001 with a five-minute cut, and in 2011 it was re-released, with all cuts changed except for a 15 second animal death scene.

Movie poster. Photo: Allstar

Speaking to The Guardian in 2011, Deodato defended the scenes of animal cruelty. “In my youth, growing up, I spent a lot of time in the countryside near animals and therefore often saw the moment of their death… The death of animals, although unbearable – especially in today’s urban mentality – has always happened. to feed the film’s characters or crew, both in story and in reality.”

Deodato also told the Guardian that the film was inspired by the Italian experience of terrorism in the 1970s. “It was the time of the Red Brigades. Every night on TV there were very strong images of people killed or maimed. Not only murder but also some fiction. They were sensationalizing the news just to shock people.”

Born in the southern Italian town of Potenza, Deodato worked as an assistant director on a string of Italian films during the 1960s, including Sergio Corbucci’s westerns Django and Ringo and His Golden Pistol. He then became a director in his own right, making comedies, crime films and musicals, including the 1976 poliziotteschi thriller Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man, the 1977 horror film Cannibal World and Cannibal Holocaust.

After the latter’s notoriety, Deodato followed it up with another “bad video”, the torture thriller The House on the Edge of the Park, which was inspired by Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. This was followed by films including the slasher Body Count, starring veteran American actor Charles Napier, and the erotic horror The Washing Machine.

Deodato appeared in a cameo role in the 2007 American horror film Hostel Part II playing, appropriately enough, a cannibal. His most recent credit was in the 2019 anthology film Deathcember.

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