Directed By: Ruggero Deodato
Starring: Massimo Foschi, Me Me Lai, Ivan Rassimov
Tag line: "A stone-age world of horrors ... ONLY ONE SURVIVED"
Trivia: Although the UK cinema version was heavily cut, the pre-certification video release featured the uncut print, which was regularly seized by police during the video nasty scare.
Shot in the jungles of Malaysia and the Philippines, Jungle Holocaust (aka The Last Survivor) is, at times, breathtakingly beautiful, but odds are you won't find it so. Filled to it breaking point with carnage and death, Jungle Holocaust is a nasty bit of exploitation, a tale of horrors set against the backdrop of a majestic jungle setting.
Oil entrepreneur Robert Harper (Massimo Foschi) and his partner Ralph (Ivan Rossimov) board a small plane bound for the middle of nowhere to check on the progress of a jungle prospecting camp. With them are the pilot, Charlie (Sheik Razak Shikur), and the pilot's girlfriend, Swan (Judy Rosly). During the landing, their plane is slightly damaged, yet more troubling than this is the discovery that the entire camp is empty, with all evidence suggesting the workers were carried off by a tribe of cannibals. During the night, Swan is also kidnapped by natives, and when Harper and the others set out to locate her, he himself is taken prisoner and hauled off to the cannibal's village. Realizing his time is limited, Harper tries desperately to find a way out of his predicament, but will he escape before his captors turn him into their next main course?
The shock level is cranked up as high as it can get in Jungle Holocaust; soon after he's been abducted by the cannibals and dragged to their "village" (which, in reality, is a bat-infested cave), Harper is tied to a rock and stripped naked, with several natives grabbing at his exposed genitals. Shortly after this ordeal, he's tossed into a deep cavern, where his only companions are a toucan and an eagle, both bound by the legs. Harper is continuously mocked and beaten by his captors (at one point, young children urinate on him from above), not to mention systematically starved (they don't even give him water to drink).
Yet as bad as Harper is treated, he fares better than many of his animal co-stars. According to director Ruggero Deodato, scenes of animal mutilations were added against his will by the film's producer, and after seeing the footage you'll understand why he didn't want them. Aside from the on-screen killing of a snake and a life-and-death struggle between a bat and a python, there's a stomach-turning sequence in which a captured crocodile is clubbed over the head and cut to pieces while still alive! I've seen my share of repulsive images over the years, but this was so gruesome that I had to look away a few times.
After Jungle Holocaust, Deodato moved on to yet another controversial picture, 1980's Cannibal Holocaust, a motion picture every bit as disturbing as this one (with even more animal mutilations, which has me questioning his true stance on the issue). Cannibal Holocaust would stun the world, and lead to Deodato's arrest on charges of obscenity and, believe it or not, murder (the on-screen deaths were so convincing that the director had to present his actors, alive and well, to the court before the murder charge was dropped).
Cannibal Holocaust is, indeed, a rough film to watch, but had more people seen Jungle Holocaust, they would have at least known what to expect.