This is one of the more iconic films that I have written about, so I had better not screw this up. I imagine that most of you are at least familiar with the idea of the film, so I will be brief here. Italian director Ruggero Deodato made a trilogy of cannibal films, but this is the only one that has really gained a lot of notoriety. Why? Well, how about being banned in over 25 countries (some even to this day), making $3 million (in 1982 dollars) in about a week and leading to murder charges against Deodato? Yeah, that should do it. As part of the marketing, the lead actors were not allowed to take any other work and made to lay low for a year. That stopped when they had to prove their status as alive for the courts. How crazy could this film be? Find out in my review of...
Our story begins with an unseen camera crew interviewing people on the streets. A documentary film crew has gone missing while filming a movie in the jungle. The crew tries to interview their parents, who are none too pleased with the questioning. It is at this point that movie proves that it's aim is realism and it nails that to a 'T.' The narrative cuts to a man (Robert Kerman) who is hired by the studio backing the filmmakers to go out and find them. Before he goes, he is given a taste of their work. He is shown part of their previous film- The Last Road to Hell- and learns a bit about these people. As he is explained by the editor, the group sold out some rebels to the military leaders and filmed their executions. To make the line between reality and fantasy all the more blurry, I should mention that this is real footage from Nigeria. He takes a flight to the area- thanks to travel footage that seems similar to that from Hell of the Living Dead- and is given a local guide. This part gets a little weird as the man is warned about the dangerous tribes in the area. We even get quite a bit of male nudity, because that was necessary. The important thing is that he finds their film cans...and a bunch of skeletons. Ruh roh!
Back in the United States, the man meets up with the film company to talk about the footage. He is against them showing it, but they are insistent. Finally determined to shut them up, he holds a screening. This is where we learn the truth about these people. As soon as they get to the area, they begin to ingratiate themselves. Oh wait, that's completely false. Instead, they act like assholes to everyone and don't exactly 'respect' nature. If you watch the full, uncut version, you get to see all of this. If you are squeamish about this, the 2-Disc set has an Animal-Cruelty Free Cut to watch. It is sort of awkward how it cuts away right as the bad stuff happens, but it is nice of them to include it. Of course, the most famous animal cruelty scene- the 'turtle dissection'- is available to watch on YouTube as I write this. No, I'm not going to link it for you. They shoot a pig, cut up a turtle, crush a spider and kill a snake, among other things. While I don't support what they did,- neither does Deodato- I can tell you that this is the only film where you can watch a real monkey get its brains eaten by a tribesmen. This is where the SPOILERS begin, so feel free to skip to the end if you want.
The real controversial moments of the film involve the camera crew staging horrific events for their film. They burn a village down and film the fleeing people as they talk about how the 'rival group did it.' In their 'raw footage,' they rape a young girl from the tribe as the lone girl tries to talk them down. Following that, the young woman is impaled on a pole. Gee, I wonder who did that? In the film's most disturbing and subtle moment, one of them is told not to smile as they begin their narration. If you see nothing else in the movie, you really need to see that part. Near the end of the footage, the group is suddenly attacked by other members of the tribe. The sound guy is killed with a spear, emasculated (ironic, but still disturbing) and cut up. The trio runs- keeping the first person camera perspective- but the girl is caught. She is gang-raped (again- ironic, but disturbing) and killed by the men when they are done. The other two run again, but are shot. The lead guy's head falls into frame (a scene that has been stolen by Cloverfield and Welcome to the Jungle) as the footage ends. Shocked, the film executives tell him to burn the footage.
This movie is rough, but such a good production. I know many of you will never watch this movie due to its title and subject matter. I get that- I really do. If you can put up with the controversial content, you will see a well-made film that immerses you so well into a world that you would never want to be a part of. All of you people that want to talk about how good The Blair Witch Project is need to see this movie. The makers of that film claim to never have heard of it, of course. Do you believe that people who would self-finance their own horror film have not heard of/seen this movie? I sure as hell don't! The makers of this movie are really owed some money by the makers of Welcome to the Jungle as well, but I doubt that they will get it. Unlike Snuff, this film lives up to its haughty reputation. If you have the nerve, check out this much-touted horror film.
Let's clear our palette, shall we? I bring you a curious little gem from Britain. It comes to you from 221 B. Baker Street. Stay tuned...