Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jungle Holocaust (Ruggero Deodato, 1977)

I've been locked in this cage for days, and I'm starting to lose my mind. And not only that, but fighting over scraps of food with a large tropical bird, being a peed on by small children, and having to listen to the screams emanating from a young man whose bloodied arm is currently being devoured by ants has started to lose its appeal. That's not to say that they ever had any appeal in the first place, I'm just being facetious. Either way, I'm beginning to regret my decision to come to the jungles of the Philippines in search of oil deposits. Naked, dirty, and starving, there's no way this could get any worse. Oh, what's this? An attractive native woman is coming over to my cage. I wonder if I can somehow persuade her to get me some food. Acting out a series of hand gestures that are meant to convey to her that I would like some food, the native woman has instead decides to interpret my gesticulations as an invitation to perform an impromptu handjob on my slumbering cock. The look on my face as she vigorously tugged on my hasn't been erect for days penis must have been priceless. On the one hand, a handjob is something I didn't expect to receive during my stay in the world's worst cannibal-run prison. In other words, it was a pleasant surprise. On the other hand, leave my dick alone, and bring me some chicken wings. What you have just experienced is a new dimension in film criticism. You see, by putting myself in the shoes of the characters, I have found that I am able to understand their motivations more effectively than your typical viewer. And I can't think of a better film to debut this technique than Ruggero Deodato's Jungle Holocaust (a.k.a. Last Cannibal World), The Magnificent Ambersons of jungle set cannibal films.
Why is this film the perfect vehicle to test drive your newfangled approach to film criticism? Why, that's simple. There's only one character who matters, so our attention isn't diverted by those who would normally vie for our peculiar brand of selective awareness. And get this, he's a male character who's not surrounded by European chicks in lingerie. Yeah, I know. Pretty radical stuff. How on earth were you able to survive an experience that was completely devoid of garter belts? Well, like I was saying, I made a concerted effort to to empathize with Robert Harper (Massimo Foschi), a non-bearded oil company hack who becomes a bearded jungle dweller who eats human livers for breakfast. And I found that by doing that, I was greatly rewarded at the end of the day.
Having watched a number of Italian-made cannibal films recently, I've come to expect a certain level of ghastliness. And don't get me wrong, Jungle Holocaust has plenty of ghastliness. It's just that I wasn't expecting such an artistically inclined piece of cinema. Wait a minute. An artistically inclined cannibal movie? Hey, why not? Take away the animal cruelty, the gut-munching, and the degradation, and what you're left with is one hell of a compelling a jungle adventure film.
Unlike most cannibal films, Jungle Holocaust doesn't start in New York City. In fact, you'll be hard pressed to find any concrete in this film. Dropped in the jungles on the island of Mindanao almost immediately, as the aforementioned Robert Taylor, his pal Rolf (Ivan Rassimov, Jonas from Eaten Alive!), and their pilot, a whiskey-drinking local named Charlie (Sheik Razak Shikur), and his ladyfriend Swan (Judy Rosly), plan to meet some fellow oil company employees at their camp near a clearing.
Things begin to go downhill right from the start, as the people who are supposed to greet them don't answer their radio. It could be that the thickness of the jungle is causing their radio to not work properly, but we all know that's not the case. As expected, there's no-one there to greet them when they land. In an ironic twist, the radio they were calling was haphazardly thrown in the middle of the makeshift runway causing the plane to lose one of its wheels. While Charlie puts the wheel back on, and Swan treats the cut on his head, Robert and Rolf do what white people do when they're bored, they wander off into the jungle. It doesn't take long for them to get lost. Luckily, they manage to find their way back to the plane. But not before watching a snake eat a lizard (five minutes in and we've already experienced a bit of animal cruelty), and stumbling upon a rotting human head.
They might have made back to the plane, but because of their impromptu jungle trek, they're going to have to stay the night. That's right, it's too late for them take off. And you know what that means? I'm sorry, Swan. But you're going to have to be killed first. You're just not that interesting. The following morning, Robert, Rolf, and Charlie go searching for Swan (she could be alive...yeah, right). Again, you know what that means? I'm afraid you're going to die, Charlie. The genre is about white people in peril, and since you're not white, I predict a large ball covered with spikes in your future. And that future is now. Splat!
If you thought stumbling upon a rotting human head was nasty, wait until you stumble upon a group cannibals eating a freshly killed Swan. And I'm not talking about a large waterfowl, I'm talking about a human being whose name happens to be Swan. We get it, they're eating her, and when they're done, they're probably gonna eat Charlie. And when they're finished devouring his body, they will most likely turn to their attention to Robert and Rolf. I don't know about you, but if I were them, I would start building a raft, and get as far away the from this place as humanly possible. Taking my advice, they do just that. Unfortunately, their raft isn't really equipped to handle rapids. Don't get me wrong, it's an awesome raft. It's just that the rapids were too intense. When the raft flips over, Robert and Rolf are thrown into the water. Struggling to make it ashore, a wet Robert scans the river for Rolf, but there's no sign of him. Hungry, Robert decides to eat some wild mushrooms. Big mistake. After vomiting for a little while, Robert eventually passes out.
When he wakes up, he's surrounded by a bunch of long-haired cannibals wielding spears. Dragging him to their cave city, Robert is tied to a giant rock. As the cannibals are tearing his clothes off, I thought to myself: Why aren't they ripping off his black underpants? Then it dawned on me, Massimo Foschi doesn't want to be naked for the rest of the movie, and asked Ruggero Deodato if he could keep his black underpants on. But why wouldn't the cannibals remove all his clothing? As this was dawning on me, a female cannibal (Me Me Lai, Eaten Alive!) suddenly appears from behind another giant rock, and slowly approaches Robert. Pawing at his black underpants, Me Me Lai eventually rips them off. While his black underpants were being ripped from their corporeal moorings, I was bouncing up and down like a cock-starved maniac.
The moment his genitals are finally free to bob and weave the way nature intended, a sense of relief washed over me. Kudos to Massimo Foschi for going that extra mile for the sake of art. Your nakedness added about five extra coats of realism to this movie. At any rate, after the cannibals have finished tugging on his junk, they swing Robert from the rafters of their cave. Why are they are doing this, you ask? Well, they think he's bird (remember, he arrived in the jungle via an airplane). 
Ultimately, he's locked in a cage with a hornbill and an eagle (like I said, they think he's a bird). I don't what's worse, getting peed on while thirsty or receiving a handjob while hungry. Yeah, that's a tough one. You would think being peed on would be worse; it's pee! But I'll take a sandwich over a handjob any day of the week. Are you sure about that? It's a Me Me Lai directed handjob. Interesting point. Can't I have a sandwich and a handjob? I could eat the sandwich using my hands (hands are an excellent thing to have, as they make sandwich eating so much easier), and Me Me Lai could use her hands to give me a handjob. No, I'm afraid it doesn't work that way. Aw, man. That sucks ass. Don't look now, but some cannibal kids are about start throwing rocks at you.
You what the cannibals use birds for? They use them to catch crocodiles: the cannibals' mortal enemy. Remember the turtle torture scene Cannibal Ferox? Well, I think the crocodile dismemberment scene in Jungle Holocaust is the most egregious example of animal cruelty I have ever witnessed in a motion picture. That being said, since the cannibals use birds to catch crocodiles, and  Roberts decides that he's had enough with being peed on and receiving untimely handjobs, and starts planning his escape. 
It's true, Massimo Foschi's constant nakedness helped give his performance an added air of authenticity. However, it was his willingness to get dirty that alleviated the movie to the level of high art. In fact, you really get the sense that Massimo is in actual mortal danger throughout the film. You can see it on his face, as his character gradually adapts to his surroundings. I'd go as far as to say that without Massimo Foschi's fearless performance, the film wouldn't have had the same impact. All you would have had was a series of scenes featuring animals being tortured and the occasional shot of the locals (in black bob wigs) eating human flesh. And at the end of the day, all jungle set cannibal movies have those things.

video uploaded by dvdinfatuation

No comments:

Post a Comment