Thursday, October 9, 2008
Jungle Holocaust (1977)
By 1977 the Italian-made Cannibal movie craze was in full swing, it would last well into the 80s. The longevity of such a maniacal sub-genre was aided by great direction and final productions from Ruggero Deodato, who also directed the well known and much scrutinized Cannibal Holocaust.
Jungle Holocaust starts out with a small plane flying over the jungles of New Guinea, occupied by Robert Harper who is an entrepeneur, his partner Rolf, along with the pilot and his girlfriend/wife. When they try to contact their camp they get no response and upon landing they find the landing strip, which is little more then a clearing in the trees, to be in shambles. The camp is totally deserted and is beginning to become overgrown. As Robert and Rolf head into the jungle to try to find the crew that they were supposed to meet they discover a rotting body and a tribe of very primitive cannibals.
Upon their return to the plane the pilot informs them it is too late to fly back to civilization, so they have to spend the night in the plane. The girl in the group gets out of the plane to relieve herself in the middle of the night and a tribesman attacks her and abducts her into the forest. The group decides it best to wait until morning to look for her. As they look for her they run into a series of traps, one which kills the pilot. The tribe is aware of their presence and begin to chase after Robert and Rolf, they escape the tribe but become disoriented and lose their way. They find a river that they believe runs adjacent to the landing strip, so they build a raft and set sail. When they hit a series of rapids Rolf is thrown from the boat and lost down a waterfall. Robert is eventually captured by the tribe.
The tribe begins to torture and humiliate Robert as he is tied up. Tearing his clothes from his body, throwing stones at him, urinating on him, and giving him only scraps of food. They also perform rituals with him, stringing him up from a tall cave and acting as if he is flying. The airplane caused them to believe he has the power to fly. This was a strange point in the movie, where they are almost worshipping his flying powers yet they still torture and humiliate.
Eventually Robert escapes, and takes a beautiful woman with him. The movie then turns into a game of cat and mouse with her as she tries multiple times to escape, until he rapes her. Which seemed to allign her with him and she became obedient and helpful. He stumbles into a different cave and finds Rolf alive but suffering from a bad leg infection due to his trip down the waterfall. They help each other until they finally find the air field. This is not before the tribe finds them and captures the woman, whom they behead, dissect and devour as punishment for her betrayal.
To sum it up, Jungle Holocaust is a solid cannibal flick. Its heavy on shock value moments, light on plot. Its a survival movie in its simplest form. Deodato's direction is solid as usual. You can see where he influenced himself for Cannibal Holocaust. This film has all of the staples for a typical Italian cannibal movie- animal killings, helicopter search scene, gore, the usual. But a great performance from Massimo Foschi as Robert Harper and the solid directing make this one stand out from the pack.