Once upon a time there was a little-known (because constantly banned and driven into exile) Italian exploitation filmmaker who made worse films than Ruggero Deodato could hope to imagine, even during a refried-grease-and-spicy-chicken-induced nightmare. Compared to the work of obscure mega-gore maestro Antonello Giallo, Deodata’s Cannibal Holocaust looks like an episode of I Love Lucy.
The story goes that Giallo’s Pleasures of the Damned (which featured zombies and eye-gouging and buckets of blood) and 1980’s follow-up cannibal flick, Isle of the Damned, were banned, the director brought up on 17 charges of indecency by the Italian government (for Pleasures) and in regards to Isle persecuted by the Argentinean government, who issued a warrant for his arrest under suspicion of abuse of the native peoples. All copies of the films were summarily burned and the ashes have long been thought buried under tonnes of manure guarded by mutated scorpions. But thanks to Dire Wit Films, pristine copies have been reconstructed from the remains and the controversial classics released to DVD. Only twenty or so staff members were mutilated in bringing these movies to light.
When a group of Satan worshiping bikers seek out a book holding the secrets of eternal life, they accidentally resurrect an ancient evil in the woods that manifests itself in the zombified forms of cult members who killed themselves in the same woods some 200 years before. Private investigator Jack Steele, while on a mission to help rescue Evelyn Crane’s brother Tommy from the hands of the bikers, gets entangled in the situation, and may be the only one who can lay the curse to rest for good.
I’m not going to embed the trailer here because it’s too outrageous, too bloody and too grotesquely funny. But if you feel that you’ve had enough of life, you can watch it on YouTube.
In Antonello Giallo’s follow up to the notorious Pleasures of the Damned, private investigator Jack Steele is hired by a mysterious treasure hunter to help find the lost treasure of Marco Polo. Along for the trip is Jack’s adopted son, Billy. Their search brings them to an island off the coast of Argentina… and into the clutches of a primitive cannibal tribe, the Yamma Yamma. Alexis Kinkaid, a mysterious recluse who has made his home on the island amongst the cannibals, may hold the key to unlocking the island’s secret… if they don’t end up in the belly of a savage first!
Trailer: WARNING! This trailer contains gruesomeness and scenes of Italianate horror that aren’t suitable for anyone at all. Watch it at your own risk.
The truth is, of course, that these films are faux ’80s exploitation films in the Italian “cannibal” sub-genre, taking its gory excesses and idiosyncratic aesthetic qualities to extremes for their comic value and as a homage to the horror of the period. Pleasures of the Damned was directed by Mark Leake and Isle by Mark Colegrove for Dire Wit Films, with much of their surrounding promotional material concerned with creating a fictional background. Have a wander through the website to get a full grasp on what’s happening.
Meanwhile Colegrove has told Undead Backbrain that Dire Wit is currently involved in the production of another homage exploitation film, this one directed by Kelly Fitzgerald, who was Assistant Director on Isle of the Damned. This time we’re at the Mutant Monster end of the subgenre. Colegrove is executive producing this one, and it is written by Mark Leake, who also wrote the previous two films.
“The film is only maybe 1/3 of the way done shooting”, Colegrove commented. “We’re probably pushing the release back to 2011.”
The production may be only a little way through, but there is a trailer — so you can get a feel for what you’re in for.
“Mutantis is a homage to our local Baltimore hero, Don Dohler…” Colegrove added, “and yes, that is the Mutantis [insert your own term for the male member so that the Backbrain doesn’t get flooded with unwanted spam] making a cameo at the end of the trailer. For more of a look at the full creature, there’s a comedy bit we produced for a local concert venue promoting a Judas Priest/Heaven and Hell concert… Mutantis plays a pretty important part in it.”
Check them out here:
- Part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bu6SGfCyp4
- Part II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti2zvR2uDo8
Stay tuned for updates!
- Source: Mark Colgrove via Avery