Friday, 12 October 2012

Cut and Run (1985)

'Cut and Run' is the final part of Ruggero Deodato's so called “Cannibal Trilogy” preceded by the excellent ‘Last Cannibal World’ (1977) and his notorious damning portrayal of Western society, Mondo filmmaking and sensationalized media in general with the potently brutal yet eye wateringly beautiful ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ (1980). That last film would cause Deodato many legal troubles with court battles putting the director’s career on hold for three years due to charges of animal cruelty and the murders of his cast of actors (the former is true, the latter is not). 

After the release of his solid entry into the rape and revenge sub-genre with ‘The House on the Edge of the Park’ the same year as ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ (it was filmed during the post-production of that movie) and the end of his legal woes Ruggero Deodato would finally make his directorial return in 1983. This was with the actioner ‘The Raiders of Atlantis’ but the film in review here would serve as Deodato’s true comeback to the arena of Italian Eurotrash. It takes a leaf from that previously mentioned title in terms of employing action orientated violence and would become quite a commercial success putting the filmmaker back on the map as one of the boot shaped country’s prominent auteurs of exploitative sleaze. Being financially lucrative the movie enabled Ruggero Deodato to carry on working and churn out some more entertaining genre fare. Although ‘Cut and Run’ lacks the impact of much of his previous work, it is certainly a worthwhile watch for any exploitation enthusiast.

Deodato’s signature trait of graphic unadulterated violence remains intact sprinkled throughout some very energetic action set-pieces with beheadings and rapes galore. There is plenty of naked female flesh on offer as well. Although there is not much here quite as nauseatingly disturbing and intense as ‘Cannibal Holocaust’, the director never shies away from depicting extreme human depravity and there are some scenes here in this respect that really pack a punch. The director is one of the very best at executing screen violence and there is a scene being a prime example of this. Perfectly illustrating this point is the non-action sequence of an immensely nasty bisection that comes mighty close to rivalling anything in Ruggero Deodato’s previous cannibal masterpiece.

Deodato is a very different kettle of fish when it comes to violent imagery compared to his more famous Italian peers Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. Argento makes art of his death sequences with awe-inspiring stylistic set-pieces with panache cinematography and incorporating perfectly timed choreography; everything is set-up as if to celebrate the act of his gruesomely created murders as a grand spectacle thrilling us and sending shivers down our spines. Fulci although also very different to Dario Argento still celebrates the dismemberment of the human body in a very cinematic way; made to revolt us Lucio Fulci purposely prolongs his sequences to make us squirm that feel like they go on forever accompanied by stomach churning sound effects. I elaborate on this in my review of City of the Living Dead (1980).

Ruggero Deodato just points the camera at the violent acts approaching it in a very direct manner. He just lets the acts of atrocity unfold in front of the camera as if we are catching it all on somebody’s video camera (especially of course in the second half of ‘Cannibal Holocaust’) as if witnessing real life documentary footage. It is just painful to watch and we really feel the hurt. According to the director, the Vietnam War and the atrocities committed by the Viet Cong inspired this horrific bisection sequence and it is a torturous experience for about the minute it lasts. We the audience is purposely set up to detest this loathsome character leading up to his most gruesome of demises and we should be cheering to see this shitbag get his comeuppance but this is something I would not wish upon my worst enemy. Truly horrid stuff.

Based on an unproduced Wes Craven script called ‘Marimba’ and rewritten by Dardano Sachetti the writer of Lucio Fulci’s famed 1979 movie ‘Zombie’ we see Deodato sticking to the media theme with a news crew flying out once again to the jungles of South America. I do not see how though the film actually fits into a “Cannibal Trilogy” as there is not one act of cannibalism on display here although the native tribe’s people are no less savage in their brutality.

A reporter Fran Hudson (Lisa Blount) and her cameraman Mark Ludman (Leonard Mann) investigate the slayings of a gang of drug dealers. Discovering a photograph at the scene Fran recognises a young man in the picture - Tommy Allo (Willie Aames) who is the missing son of their boss Bob Allo (Richard Bright). Also in the photo is the dishonourably discharged Colonel Brian Horne (Richard Lynch, giving a chillingly convincing performance in an ‘Apocalypse Now’ Colonel Kurtz type role). Thought to be dead Horne is now a druglord’s right hand man who has rejected the Western world and lost the plot in his mind. The photo was taken by a propeller aircraft and after getting permission from Bob to try to find his son Fran and Mark track down the airplane’s pilot. So, off they go through a hellish ride of jungle savagery encountering the horrifying natives led by Colonel Horne and his chief henchman Quecho played with startling menace by Michael Berryman (the Craven connection is made more distinct).

A simplistic and unbelievable plot then, but what we get here is bang for an exploitation lover’s buck. It is essentially an action adventure movie with generous amounts of visceral vomit inducing gore galore, sexual violence and T & A. The director moves the story along at a steady pace and the action comes more thick and fast when the location has shifted to the jungles of South America for the majority of the remaining running time. There are some very talky moments littered throughout that interferes with the pacing with some melodrama injected into the exploitative formula but the performances from a solid mostly American cast are fine on the whole keeping the viewer invested in the likably written characters. It is Lynch and Berryman though that really stands out in their villain parts when their presences grace the screen. Unfortunately, in their supporting roles that is not too often. A big highlight is ex Goblin member Claudio Simonetti’s memorable and highly underrated musical score that has a big hand in atmospherically enhancing the film. This is testament to why Goblin is so loved by horror aficionados and to their legacy in the genre.

While the premise is questionable, sags a bit with the dialogue scenes, lacks the impactful intensity of Ruggero Deodato’s more infamous previous works (something that can be said of his filmography from here onwards) and does not strive for social commentary like ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ but instead purely for entertainment, ‘Cut and Run’ is recommended for any cult exploitation fan for an enjoyable good time.

*** out of ****

Dave J. Wilson

©2012 Cinematic Shocks, Dave J. Wilson - All work is the property of the credited author and may not be reprinted or reproduced elsewhere without permission.

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