JUNGLE HOLOCAUST (1977)
posted 00/00/2010

Directed by:
Ruggero Deodato

Starring:
Massimo Foschi ... Robert Harper
Me Me Lai ... Pulan
Ivan Rassimov ... Rolf
Sheik Razak Shikur ... Charlie

Country: Italy
Runtime: 88 min
Original title: Ultimo mondo cannibale
AKA: Last Cannibal World,
Cannibal,
Carnivorous,
The Last Survivor

Before Cannibal Holocaust there was Jungle Holocaust. Ruggero Deodato honed his skills here before making his next cannibal masterpiece we all love (and fear). It was Jungle that gave him the knee deep in nature experience needed to make Cannibal. This film was entirely shot in the Malaysian rainforest and Deodato claimed to have used many aboriginals in his picture. The main shooting location was six hours by canoe ride from the main land. You had to be rough and tough if you wanted to keep up with Deodato and his leading actors were no different. Massimo Foschi who played Robert Harper had to be completely nude for 90 percent of the film; trudging through the jungle terrain barefoot. Deodato’s passion for bringing authenticity to his picture is evident throughout the film. A debated element in this and many other cannibal films were the animal torture scenes. Deodato claims he did not shoot them but they were inserted by the producers. When everything comes together you get quite a potent assault on the senses. They don’t make good shit like this anymore!

The story follows the perilous adventure of Robert Harper lost in the Malaysian rainforest inhabited by cannibals. He is traveling with his pal Rolf, a survival expert plus the pilot and his girlfriend. The plane is slightly damaged upon landing and the nearby camp’s inhabitants have been eaten away by cannibals. The pilot’s girlfriend is abducted during the night and in the morning the pilot is killed by a wrecking ball trap. It’s barely twenty minutes into the movie and two people are already killed. As Harper and Rolf wander around in circles they come upon a group of cannibals having a human BBQ, presumably the pilot’s girlfriend. Quite lost by now, the two men decide to build a raft and go down river to locate the runway and base camp and see if they can start the plane. The rushing waters turn over the makeshift raft and Rolf is swept away to god knows where. Harper crawls out of the river bank with the horrific reality that he is now alone in the middle of the Malaysian rainforest and that his neighbors include cannibals, snakes and man-eating gators.

Soon he is captured by an aboriginal tribe (thankfully not cannibals) and trapped in a cave. All his clothes have been stripped away and he is constantly mocked by the crazy tribe. The native children throw rocks and pee on him plus he’s fed animal guts and dirty water. In traditional jungle/cannibal film cliché a beautiful aboriginal woman named Pulan is sympathetic and comes by his cave to poke and stare at him. One time she even crouches down, reaches through the bamboo fence and gives him a hand job! Pulan is played by the gorgeous Me Me Lai who also appears in Man From Deep River. The two develop a romance of sorts (which includes him beating and raping her) and manage to escape together.

There is still plenty of craziness and jungle survival action left. We are treated to some graphic animal torture, cannibal attacks, human gore and savagery. You can’t miss the scene where a native woman gives birth to a child, cuts the umbilical cord with her teeth then drops the kid back in the water, providing an alligator lunch. Deodato wanted to take us into the dark heart of the jungle and he does a damn good job of it. Foschi gives us a mind blowing scene towards the end of the film where he is confronted with a group of cannibals. What he does and the realistic depiction illustrates the level of immersion a real actor goes through when he REALLY gets into character.

Jungle cannibal films are almost (Franco’s Cannibals is an exception) always thrilling for me. I can’t think of many other frightening things more horrible than being lost in a jungle with psychotic deadly critters and flesh-eating men. There is also nothing more sexually appealing than a topless dark haired beauty, who doesn’t speak English but will most definitely have sex with you. I understand why Jose passes on these films, maybe because of the male nudity; but come on now let’s not be too prissy considering the excitement of cannibal dismemberments and promiscuous cocoa-skinned females.

- Jorge Antonio Lopez

 

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