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 both 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 the 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 they set up . With them are the pilot, Charlie (Sheik Razak Shikur), and the pilot's girlfriend, Swan (Judy Rosly). While 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 attacked, then carried off, by a tribe of cannibals. During the night, Swan is also kidnapped by some natives, and Harper and the others set out the next morning to locate her. This marks the beginning of a living nightmare for Harper when he himself is captured by a primitive tribe. Fearing they plan to make him their next main course, Harper realizes he must find a way out of his predicament, and fast.
The shock level in Jungle Holocaust is cranked all the way up. When Harper is abducted by the cannibals and dragged off to their "village" (which, in actuality, is a bat-infested cave), he's immediately tied to a rock and stripped naked, with some of the natives even grabbing at his exposed genitals. After this ordeal, he's thrown into a 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 (he's not even given water to drink).
Yet as bad as Harper is treated, he fares better than many of his animal co-stars in Jungle Holocaust. According to director Ruggero Deodato, scenes of animal mutilations were added against his will by the film's producer, and after one glimpse of the footage, you'll understand why he didn't want it. Aside from the on-screen killing of a snake and a battle for survival between a bat and a python, there's a stomach-turning sequence in which a captured crocodile is carried by the natives into their cave, clubbed over the head, and cut to pieces while still alive! I've seen my share of disgusting images over the years, but this was so gruesome that I honestly had to look away a few times.
After Jungle Holocaust, Ruggero 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 wondering what Deodato's true stance is 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 Deodato had to present the 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 Deodato's Jungle Holocaust, they'd have at least known what they were getting into.