Ruggero Deodato Dead: ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ Horror Director Was 83

Ruggero Deodato, director of the shocking horror movie “Cannibal Holocaust,” which was so controversial it was banned in some countries, died Thursday, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported. He was 83.

The 1980 film “Cannibal Holocaust” is considered one of the goriest movies of all time and cited as the first movie to use found footage. It was banned in several countries due to its graphic depictions of violence, sexual assault and animal cruelty, and it even resulted in Deodato being arrested on obscenity charges. He was accused of murdering several actors on camera to achieve the level of realistic brutality, but he was later cleared and the charges were dropped. He directed other films throughout his career, but “Cannibal Holocaust” was his most famous and reached cult-classic status in the horror community. It also granted him the nickname “Monsieur Cannibal” in France.

Born in Potenza, Italy, on May 7, 1929, Deodato studied under Italian directors like Roberto Rossellini  and Sergio Corbucci. He directed some musical, comedies and thrillers in the ’60s and ’70s, then made a splash with the 1976 spaghetti crime film (known in Italy as “poliziotteschi”) titled “Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man.” The film was originally censored in Italy due to a scene were a man’s eyeballs are gouged out and squished underfoot.

After making 1977’s “Last Cannibal World,” which was censored in the U.K. for animal cruelty, he made “Cannibal Holocaust.” Starring Robert Kerman, Gabriel Yorke and Francesca Ciardi, the movie follows an American rescue crew searching for missing documentarians who were making a movie about cannibal tribes in the Amazon rainforest. Deodato filmed in the Amazon, which proved to be a challenge for some of the cast members, along with the graphic violence, gore and nudity. The movie is allegedly banned in 50 countries and reception was split upon its release, but its legacy as one of the most shocking films of all time has gone on to inspire filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth and Oliver Stone.

Following the release, Deodato made other horror movies like “Body Count,” “Phantom of Death” and more, and he even had a cameo in Roth’s horror movie “Hostel: Part II” as a cannibal.

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