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Ruggero Deodato

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Ruggero Deodato
Deodato at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival
Born(1939-05-07)7 May 1939
Died29 December 2022(2022-12-29) (aged 83)
Rome, Italy
Other namesMonsieur Cannibal
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • actor
Years active1959–2022
Height1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
(m. 1971⁠–⁠1979)
PartnerMicaela Rocco

Ruggero Deodato (Italian pronunciation: [rudˈdʒɛːro de.oˈda.to]; 7 May 1939 – 29 December 2022) was an Italian film director, screenwriter, and actor.

His career spanned a wide-range of genres including peplum, comedy, drama, poliziottesco, and science fiction, yet he is perhaps best known for directing violent and gory horror films with strong elements of realism. His most notable film is Cannibal Holocaust, considered one of the most controversial and brutal in the history of cinema, which was seized, banned or heavily censored in many countries,[1] and which contained special effects so realistic that they led to Deodato being arrested on suspicion of murder. It is also cited as a precursor of found footage films such as The Blair Witch Project and The Last Broadcast.[1] The film strengthened Deodato's fame as an "extreme" director and earned him the nickname "Monsieur Cannibal" in France.[2]

Deodato was an influence on film directors like Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth and Nicolas Winding Refn.[3][4][5]

Early life and career[edit]

Deodato was born in Potenza, Basilicata, and moved to Rome with his family as a child. He went to Denmark and started as a musician playing piano and conducting a small orchestra at 7 years old. Once back to Italy, he quit music after his private teacher sent him away for playing by ear.[6]

Deodato grew up on a farm and at eighteen grew up in the neighborhood where Rome's major film studios are located. Through a friendship with the son of Rossellini, it was there that he learned how to direct under Roberto Rossellini and Sergio Corbucci; he helped to make Corbucci's The Slave and Django as an assistant director. Later on in the 1960s, he directed some comedy, musical, and thriller films, before leaving cinema to do TV commercials. In 1976 he returned to the big screen with his ultra-violent police flick Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man.[7]

In 1977 he directed a jungle adventure called Last Cannibal World (also known as Jungle Holocaust) starring British actress Me Me Lai with which he 'rebooted' the cannibal film / mondo genre started years earlier by Italian director Umberto Lenzi.[8]


Italian: Io ho fatto solo due/tre horror, il resto sono film realistici.

I have only done two/three horror, the rest are realistic films.

— Ruggero Deodato, [This quote needs a citation]

Cannibal Holocaust[edit]

Late in 1979 he returned to the cannibal subgenre with the controversial Cannibal Holocaust.[9] The film was shot in the Amazon Rainforest for a budget of about $100,000, and starred Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, and Carl Gabriel Yorke. The film is a mockumentary about a group of filmmakers who go into the Amazon Rainforest and subsequently stage scenes of extreme brutality for a Mondo-style documentary. During production, many cast and crew members protested the use of real animal killing in the film, including Kerman, who walked off the set.[citation needed]

Deodato created massive controversy in Italy and all over the world following the release of Cannibal Holocaust, which was wrongly claimed by some to be a snuff film due to the overly realistic gore effects. Deodato was arrested on suspicion of murder, and was subsequently forced to reveal the secrets behind the film's special effects and to parade the lead actors before an Italian court in order to prove that they were still alive.[10] Deodato also received condemnation, still ongoing, for the use of real animal torture in his films. Despite the numerous criticisms, Cannibal Holocaust is considered a classic of the horror genre and innovative in its found footage plot structure.[11]

Subsequent career[edit]

Deodato with Eli Roth in Rome during the press tour for Hostel

Deodato's 1980 film The House on the Edge of the Park was the most censored of the 'video nasties' in the United Kingdom for its graphic violence. His Cut and Run is a jungle adventure thriller, containing nudity, extreme violence and the appearance of Michael Berryman as a crazed, machete-wielding jungle man.[citation needed]

In the 1980s, he made some other slasher/horror films, including Body Count, Phantom of Death and Dial Help. In the 1990s he turned to TV movies and dramas with some success. In 2007, he made a cameo appearance in Hostel: Part II in the role of a cannibal.

Deodato made about two dozen films and TV series, his films covering many different genres, including many action films, a western, a barbarian film and even a family film called Mom I Can Do It. He was also helping to develop a cannibal-themed video game called Borneo: A Jungle Nightmare.[12]

Unrealized projects[edit]

Throughout his career, Deodato was attached to a number of projects which either did not come to fruition or, for various reasons, were assigned to other directors. He was initially attached to The New York Ripper (Lucio Fulci), The Last Shark (Enzo G. Castellari), Casablanca Express (Sergio Martino) and Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story (Mario Gariazzo).[citation needed]

Unmade projects included a snake thriller, Rattles, and a sequel to Cannibal Holocaust entitled Cannibal Fury, which was to enter production in 1983.

Personal life and death[edit]

Deodato was married to actress Silvia Dionisio from 1971 to 1979. He had a son from the marriage. His partner was Micaela Rocco.[7]

In 2019, the filmmaker was honored with a documentary about his life and career called Deodato Holocaust.[13] Directed by Brazilian filmmaker Felipe M. Guerra, it was released in May of that year at the Fantaspoa Film Festival, in Brazil, with the presence of Ruggero. The documentary consists of a series of interviews that Guerra made with the Italian director, edited with images from Deodato's movies and personal photos. In 2021, Deodato Holocaust was released on Blu-Ray in Sweden[14] and Germany – in limited media book format, containing also a 120-page booklet about Deodato's life and career.[15] The documentary was later released in France[16] and the United States,[17] this time as a bonus feature in collector's editions of other films directed by Ruggero.

Deodato died in Rome on 29 December 2022, at the age of 83, from complications of pneumonia, kidney failure, and liver failure.[7][18]


As director[edit]

Source(s): [citation needed]

Year Title Notes
1964 Hercules, Prisoner of Evil Also known as Ursus, the Terror of the Kirghiz
1968 Phenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankhamen
1969 Zenabel Also known as Gräfin der Lust
1975 Waves of Lust Also known as Una ondata di piacere (English: A Wave of Pleasure) and Loves of a Nympho
1976 Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man Also known as Uomini si nasce poliziotti si muore (English: Born a Man, Die a Cop)
1977 Jungle Holocaust Also known as Ultimo mondo cannibale (English: The Last Cannibal World)
1978 Last Feelings Also known as L'ultimo sapore dell'aria
1979 Concorde Affaire '79 Also known as The Concorde Affair
1980 Cannibal Holocaust
The House on the Edge of the Park Also known as La casa sperduta nel parco and Trap for a Rapist
1983 Raiders of Atlantis Also known as I predatori di Atlantide and Atlantis Interceptors
1985 Cut and Run Also known as Inferno in diretta (English: Hell....Live!) Also known as Amazonia, The White Jungle
1987 Body Count Also known as Camping del terrore and Camping Terror
The Barbarians Also known as The Barbarians and Company
1988 Phantom of Death Also known as Un delitto poco comune (English: An Unusual Crime), and Off Balance
Dial Help Also known as Ragno gelido (English: Frozen Spider) and Minaccia d'amore (English: Menace of Love)
1993 The Washing Machine Also known as Vortice Mortale
1998 Sotto il cielo dell'Africa
2004 Padre Speranza
2016 Ballad in Blood
2019 Deathcember segment Casetta Sperduta in Campagna[19]

As actor[edit]

Source(s): [citation needed]

Year Title Role
2007 Hostel: Part II The Italian Cannibal
2010 Red Warlock - Awakening Client
2013 Chimères Butcher

Video games[edit]

Source(s): [citation needed]

Year Title Role
2022 Borneo: A Jungle Nightmare Script Director


  1. ^ a b Shipka, Danny (2011). Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960-1980. McFarland. p. 119.
  2. ^ "Dall'altra parte del cult – Intervista a Ruggero Deodato" (in Italian). cinewalkofshame.com. Archived from the original on 22 February 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Cannibal Holocaust: 'Keep filming! Kill more people!'". theguardian.com. 15 September 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Cannibal Holocaust Theatrical Re-Release Announced". dailydead.com. 10 August 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  5. ^ "A Conversation with Nicolas Winding Refn". screenanarchy.com. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2023.
  6. ^ Maria Acciaro (17 May 2012). "Monsieur Cannibal" (in Italian). vice.com. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Genzlinger, Neil (9 January 2023). "Ruggero Deodato, Whose 'Cannibal Holocaust' Enraged, Dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  8. ^ Janet Maslin (6 April 1978). "Movie Review - Ultimo mondo cannibale (1977)". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  9. ^ Robert Firsching (2014). "Cannibal Holocaust (1979)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 29 December 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  10. ^ "The controversial horror movie "Cannibal Holocaust" was so realistic that the director was brought to court to prove he didn't actually kill the actors". The Vintage News. 28 March 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Firsts: Cannibal Holocaust, the first found footage horror film is still terrifying". Syfy. Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  12. ^ Friscia, John (2 December 2020). "Borneo: A Jungle Nightmare, the new name for Cannibal, gets new trailer". NintendoEnthusiast.com. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  13. ^ Squires, John (30 April 2019). "Documentary 'Deodato Holocaust' Tells the Story of Italian Filmmaker Ruggero Deodato". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  14. ^ "Deodato Holocaust Blu-ray (Sweden)". Blu-ray.com. 22 February 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  15. ^ "Deodato Holocaust Blu-ray (Germany)". Blu-ray.com. 15 March 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  16. ^ "Zenabel Blu-ray (France)". Blu-ray.com. 30 November 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  17. ^ Bjork, Stephen (3 February 2022). "House on the Edge of the Park Blu-ray Review". The Digital Bits. Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  18. ^ "Ruggero Deodato è morto, addio al re del Cannibal Movie". cinemaserietv.it. 29 December 2022. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  19. ^ Squires, John (10 January 2019). "Upcoming Christmas Horror Anthology 'Deathcember' Will Feature Lucky McKee and Ruggero Deodato!".


  • Harvey Fenton, Julian Grainger, Gian Luca Castoldi, Cannibal Holocaust: And the Savage Cinema of Ruggero Deodato, FAB Press, 1999.

External links[edit]