As Sam the Bossman pointed out in his review of Cannibal Holocaust: Jungle Holocaust is where Ruggero Deodato cut his teeth on the human flesh eating film — bringing along Me Me Lai (her second of three cannibal flicks; the first was Umberto Lenzi’s Sacrifice!; the final was Lenzi’s Eaten Alive!), Ivan Rassimov (also of Eaten Alive! and The Humanoid) and Massimo Foschi, (the Italian voice of Darth Vader, 1977’s Nine Guests for a Crime) — and pretty much cemented the genre with that film’s 1980 release.
Jungle Holocaust was originally slated to be directed by Umberto Lenzi as a follow up to his cannibal flick progenitor, Man from Deep River (1972). Depending on how you consumed Jungle Holocaust, as an ’80s “Midnight Movie” or home video rental, it’s also known as Ultimo mondo cannibale, aka Last Cannibal World, Cannibal, and The Last Survivor.
So, what can we possibly say — as with our reviews of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead — about this film that hasn’t already been said by others, ad nauseam? However, for site prosperity — in our quest to catalog all things “video nasty” (this made it to the U.K.’s “Section 3” list) and “cannibal,” and with this being our “Video Nasties Week” tribute — let’s rip it open.
As in the 1976 King Kong remake (ugh), the greedy search for black gold sets off our horrific chain of events. When two oil prospectors and their team travel to a company outpost on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, their plane sustains damage from a rough landing. Then they discover the camp abandoned — with rotted human remains.
Then the “ensues” that we expect from cannibal flicks, begins: A team member goes missing. Booby traps — such as a large mace — are tripped. A raft built to escape down river, falls apart. People are separated. People are eaten. “Death Cap” Amanitas are foolishly consumed. People puke. There’s leech-sucking body bathing. There’s civilized human-on-native rape. People are captured, stripped, and forced to eat rotten, raw animal entrails and internal organs. There’s more cooking and consuming of humans. Cobra-venom laced spears fly. Civilized humans take to eating livers. Two men survive. One man dies.
While shocking in my “Midnight Movie” days and 5-5-5 VHS-binging weekends with my fellow ne’er-do-well brothers reading all things Circus and Fangoria, revisiting Jungle Holocaust all these years later — and applying my now hipster-critical eye — once you take away the shock value, this really isn’t a very good movie.
Sure, it’s nasty as hell and fucking savage: but that’s all it is. There no real story or characters to latch onto. There’s barely any dialog and what dialog there is, the dub stinks. So it’s just a whole lot of running around in the jungle. There’s no deeper meaning, no takeaway from the film concerning the state of modern man invading lands — as in Werner Herzog’s superior Aguirre, the Wrath of God — that he shouldn’t; the modern vs. native juxtaposition isn’t explored.
But, being the critical hipster hypocrite that I am, I still love it; for it is the sweet smell youth.
Man, being old sucks the offal.
Ronin Flix reissued Jungle Holocaust and it’s sold out, but copies are still available in the online marketplace via other retailers. You can learn more about the Blu-ray’s technical aspects at Blu-ray.com. Sorry, no freebie streams to share. Yeah, there’s some overseas streams, but when it looks sketchy, don’t hyper that link, my friend.
We did a whole week of cannibal films with our “Mangiati Vivi Week” tribute back in February 2018. You can also learn more about the genre with our review of the documentary Me Me Lai Bites Back (2021). And there’s more “nasties” to be found with our “Section 1,” “Section 2,” and “Section 3” explorations.