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Arguably the first found footage horror movie to hit the screen, Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust still holds up today as one of the most disturbing, and brutally realistic, films of all time. Deodato passed away on December 29.
Although the controversial filmmaker will forever be known for Cannibal Holocaust, he also made a few lesser-known movies including Body Count, Phantom of Death, and Dial Help.
He continued to make a few films through the 90s, his final work was released in the 2019 anthology film Deathcember in which he directed the segment titled Casetta Sperduta in Campagna.
Perhaps one of Deodato’s most significant influences is Eli Roth whose The Green Inferno (2013) is an obvious homage to Holocaust. Roth, upon hearing of his mentor’s passing wrote:
“Deeply deeply saddened by the loss of truly one of the most wonderful, generous, brilliant and funny people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, @therealdeodato Ruggero Deodato changed my life in 100 minutes when I first saw ‘Cannibal Holocaust.’
I have talked about his influence extensively, but to then get to know him and then become close with him and his wonderful family was truly unexpected. He welcomed me on his set when I was in Rome doing the first Hostel press tour (the pic by the fire truck is the day we met.) We became fast friends and he brilliant played a Cannibal in Hostel 2, dining on @stan_yanevski. I directed all of Hostel 2 wearing @spencerwaltz Cannibal Holocaust t shirts.
The Green Inferno is dedicated to him, and he was so supportive, coming to the premiere at the Rome film festival with me. There too many memories, too many stories, all of them make me smile. The way he was in this first photo from the Hostel 2 set is how I will always remember him. He was truly one of the greats in every way.
Look into his filmography, it’s pretty mind blowing. He was the A.D. to both Rossellini and Corbucci and you can truly see their influence in his work. He was one of a kind. Rest in peace Ruggero. Bone appetite.” — Eli Roth, Facebook
Deodato was faced with criminal charges over Cannibal Holocaust. The kills and situations are so real that he was charged with, among other things, murder.
Before the movie was made he made his actors sign a contract to “disappear” from public view for three years in an effort to make it seem as if they had actually died in the movie. That would prove detrimental to his case until they all appeared in court very much alive and the charges against Deodato were dropped.
Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone were also fans of Deodato’s work. No cause of death has been released about Deodato’s death.
Ruggero Deodato: 1939-2022
*header photo: Courtesy of Eli Roth