Ruggero Deodato at the Cannes Film Festival (2008).
7 May 1939|
Potenza, Basilicata, Italy
|Other names||Monsieur Cannibal|
|Occupation||Film director, screen writer, actor|
Silvia Dionisio (m. 1971–1979)
During his career, he has filmed in many different genres like peplum, comedy, drama, poliziottesco and science fiction, but he is best known for directing violent and gory horror films with strong elements of realism.
He is famous for his 1980 film Cannibal Holocaust, considered one of the most controversial and brutal movies in the history of cinema, which was seized, banned or heavily censored in many countries. It is also cited as a precursor of found footage films such as The Blair Witch Project and The Last Broadcast. The film strengthened Deodato's fame as an "extreme" director and earned him the nickname "Monsieur Cannibal" in France.
Early life and career
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.
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.
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.
Success and controversies
Late in 1979 he returned to the cannibal subgenre with the incredibly controversial Cannibal Holocaust. 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.
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 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. 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.
Deodato's film license was temporarily revoked and he would not get it back until three years later, which then allowed him to release his 1980 thriller The House on the Edge of the Park, which 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.
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 has 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.
Deodato was married to actress Silvia Dionisio from 1971 to 1979. He has a son from the marriage. His current partner is Micaela Rocco.
- Hercules, Prisoner of Evil (1964)
- Phenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankhamen (1968)
- Zenabel (1969)
- I quattro del pater noster (1969)
- Waves of Lust (1975)
- Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976)
- Jungle Holocaust (1977)
- Last Feelings (1978)
- Concorde Affaire '79 (1979)
- Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
- The House on the Edge of the Park (1980)
- Raiders of Atlantis (1983)
- Cut And Run (1985)
- Body Count (1987)
- The Barbarians (1987)
- Phantom of Death (1988)
- Dial Help (1988)
- The Washing Machine (1993)
- Sotto il cielo dell'Africa (1998)
- Padre Speranza (2004)
- Ballad in Blood (2016)
- Hostel: Part II (2007) The Italian Cannibal
- Red Warlock - Awakening (2010) as a client
- Chimères as the butcher
- Shipka, Danny (2011). Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960-1980. McFarland. p. 119.
- "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.
- "Cannibal Holocaust: 'Keep filming! Kill more people!'". theguardian.com. 15 September 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- "Cannibal Holocaust Theatrical Re-Release Announced". dailydead.com. 10 August 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- Maria Acciaro (17 May 2012). "Monsieur Cannibal" (in Italian). vice.com. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
- Janet Maslin (6 April 1978). "Movie Review - Ultimo mondo cannibale (1977)". nytimes.com. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- "Cannibal Holocaust (1979)". nytimes.com. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- "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. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "Firsts: Cannibal Holocaust, the first found footage horror film is still terrifying". Syfy. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- Harvey Fenton, Julian Grainger, Gian Luca Castoldi, Cannibal Holocaust: And the Savage Cinema of Ruggero Deodato, FAB Press, 1999