Jungle Holocaust (1977)
Grindhouse has no stars. Grindhouse merely has people that were involved with more than one movie, and for that, you recognize them. But you never actually like them. And that is the great thing about the sub-genre cannibal and camp movies: They have a very high chance that all these people you can’t stand at first sight will not only die, but even die a slow, violent and overall horrible death.
We all know what cannibal movies are about and how the core cast looks. Its usually:
Guy 1 who goes to the jungle for one of the following reasons: anthropologic research, rescue someone for money or personal reasons, buy land/find resources (probably the silliest version), crash with a plane or a combination of these. He usually wears a moustache, has curly hair and is played by Massimo Foschi or someone who looks like Massimo Foschi.
Guy 2 is a friend or fellow scientist of Guy 1. He usually has some survival training or, if Guy 1 is a researcher, acts as the cameraman.
Guy 3 is a local guide or pilot, and regardless where in the world the scenario is set, he is always a latino. There is a 99 % chance he will be the first of the group who dies, and a 1 % chance he only drops the group somewhere in the jungle/on an island and then goes home.
Girl is either the wife of Guy 1 or the girlfriend of Guy 2. In some cases, especially if she is the wife of Guy 1, she is also a scientist.
Jungle Holocaust stays true to that about 50 %. Robert Harper (played by Massimo Foschi) is a… scientist, maybe, who goes to check on a camp his employees have prepared for his arrival in the jungle of Manila. His pilot Charlie, a latino, is not the first to die, but it takes only 15 minutes and its girlfriend who dies first instead. The last guy is a bit a mystery. I didn’t really catch his name, but I think its Ralph. I’ll just go with that. What Ralph really does in this jungle? No idea. He talks about survival training, later he has insights in native languages, and inbetween, he is simply not around for almost an hour.
Anyway, when the four people arrive in the jungle, they find the camp deserted, and of course, the plane is broken and has to be fixed over night. When Charlie’s girlfriend goes to pee, we hear a scream and that is all – she’s dead, and we didn’t see a thing. But who cares? The next morning, the guys go looking for her, and Charlie is killed by a trap… suspected (but not confirmed) to be set by a cannibal tribe.
Robert panics at the sight of a snake eating a waran and runs into the jungle; naturally not the smartest idea, but certainly one of the better choices he makes. In other words, he’s a moron. Three minutes later, Robert and Ralph are completely lost, so they make a boat – within a minute, using nothing but a knife – to go down the river and find the plane. There wasn’t a river anywhere near the landing site, but whatever works, guys. Confronted with a waterfall, they lost control over their vessel and got seperated – another minute later. It will take almost an hour until we see Ralph again.
Robert stumbles through the jungle, finds some mushrooms, and because he’s such a smartie, he eats the one plant with the highest chance of being toxic. Not very surprising he gets sick and when he wakes up, he finds himself captured by a native tribe. However, they are not cannibals. As if the tribe hadn’t confronted us enough with male nudity, they rip Robert’s clothes off and unfortunately he will not wear anything for at least 45 minutes.
He is held in some cave-cage along with an eagle and a tucan (I think its a tucan, its a pretty cool big bird) and wonders why the natives don’t kill him. He finds out – they use the birds as bait for crocodile hunting, and a bizarre ritual that involved hanging Robert under the ceiling of a cave implies they think he is a bird, too. *facepalm* Cargo Cult, alright, but this is a bit too absurd.
After Robert failed to explain the attractive native girl that he just wants something to eat, and she jerked him off instead, he decides to escape before the next hunt. I find it notable that someone is too stupid to make a gesture for ‘eating’ after figuring out one for ‘drinking’ that the native kids understood.
His escape is a total masterplan and he manages it to steal the attractive native girl from a guy who is about to rape her, and also a simple rock. With this bounty, Robert runs into the jungle and after running around with no plan at all, he rapes the native girl himself. Causing her to bring him food and function as a guide. Or whatever, no-one knows where they are going anyways. But somehow, they run into Ralph, who survived with a rotting knee injury in some cave. Robert goes slightly insane, but I didn’t really listen what he was ranting about. End of this discussion is – they continue the way and try to find the plane. Ralph makes it to catch a cobra and poison the tip of Robert’s spear, and later, the trio fights of at least 5 alligators with bare hands. Things look good, until they enter the territory of the cannibal tribe, which is near the plane.
The cannibals steal the native girl and eat her in a rather unspectacular rubber body scene. Ralph is meanwhile delirious. Robert fights off the natives by killing their chief with his poison spear – and then eats his heart. I personally would not consider eating someone I just killed with snake venom, but Robert seems to like playing risk. It works though, and Robert and Ralph reach the plane and can escape the jungle.
Both intro and outro credits state that everything was experienced or witnessed by Robert Harper, and is based on a real story and all. I somehow doubt. No-one can seriously be as stupid as Robert Harper.
Other than that, Jungle Holocaust has an outstanding amount of animal snuff – as if Deodato wanted to break a record. Even for a cannibal movie, its far above average. If only one of these scenes would have been made today, the entire cast and crew would go to jail. Rightfully.
What the movie totally lacks of is… dialogue. Robert is alone with a tribe that has some grunted and screamed native language, so there is really not much conversation. That’s not bad, because the conversations that are there are beyond good and evil, talent, sense and context. In other words: This movie is bad. Bad-bad. Not boring-bad (like Hostel) or unbelievable-bad (like Gormet). Its a complete waste of celluloid and lifetime.
Famous last words: You have to see it to see everything you don’t want to see.