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Cannibal Holocaust Director Ruggero Deodato Passes Away

December 29, 2022 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Ruggero Deodato Hostel: Part II Image Credit: Lionsgate

Ruggero Deodato, the filmmaker most (in)famously known for the 1980 horror film Cannibal Holocaust, has passed away. Deadline reports that the Italian filmmaker passed away on Thursday. No cause of death details have been revealed; Deodate was 83 years old.

Born in 1939, Deodato got his start in filmmaking learning under the Italian filmmakers Roberto Rossellini and Sergio Corbucci. He directed several low-budget films in Italy like the 1964 sword-and-sandal film Hercules, Prisoner of Evil and the 1975 erotic thriller Waves of Lust. It is however Cannibal Holocaust for which he will forever be known.

The film’s genesis came when Deodato was contracted to direct a film similar to his 1977 cannibal exploitation flick Last Cannibal World. He was inspired to create Cannibal Holocaust by seeing news footage that favored sensationalistic violence over journalistic integrity, and came up with the faux documentary about journalists travelling into the Amazon to encounter a cannibal tribe.

The film was a pioneering movie of the found footage genre, predating films like The Blair Witch Project and The Last Broadcast. It was exceedingly controversial for its depictions of violence and torture, exacerbated by the fact that the cast signed contracts ensuring that they would stay out of the public eye to help promote the realism of the film. Deodato was charged with obscenity and murder and had to produce evidence that the cast was not in fact dead.

Cannibal Holocaust was also (and remains) exceedingly controversial for its depiction of violence toward animals. The film depicts on-screen non-simulated killing of animals, all of whom were killed for the production.

Deodato continued working in Italy in the succeeding years following his acquittal on murder charges. His work slowed down following the early 1990s; his final directorial effort was a segment in 2019’s Deathcember. He also appeared on screen in a handful of movies, including playing a cannibal in Hostel: Part II.

On behalf of 411, our condolences to the family, friends and fans of Mr. Deodato.