Ruggero Deodato, Infamous 'Cannibal Holocaust' Director, Dead at 83

Ruggero Deodato, director of the infamous horror film Cannibal Holocaust, has died. He was 83. According to Variety, Deodato's passing was first reported by the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, though it appears that no specific cause of death was shared.

Deodato is the directorial mastermind behind Cannibal Holocaust, a 1980 Italian horror movie written by Gianfranco Clerici. The film is considered to be one of the most violent movies ever made and is frequently cited as the first to use the found footage format to tell a fictional story. The film follows a rescue team who travel to an Amazon rainforest searching for a documentary film crew who has gone missing. The film crew had been working on a project about Amazonian cannibal tribes. After an extensive search, the rescue team is only able to find the film crew's equipment, including the cans of film they used to record their trip, which contains footage of their horrible deaths.

Cannibal Holocaust was so controversial when it was first released that the Italian government arrested Deodato and some of the film's other personnel for what was perceived as their involvement with the murders captured in the film. In an unfortunate coincidence, Deodato had previously convinced the actors who played the dead film crew to live in hiding, so as to make Cannibal Holocaust seem real. After not being able to convince authorities that the movie was pure fiction, Deodato was eventually able to persuade the actors out of hiding to prove they were alive and were never in any danger. Notably, Deodato had made a number of films prior to Cannibal Holocaust, and he went on to make several more after it, including Raiders of Atlantis and The Barbarian Brothers.

The controversy surrounding the film in many ways led Cannibal Holocaust to the throne on which it sits in the kingdom of cult classic cinema. Many filmmakers such as Eli Roth and Oliver Stone have cited Cannibal Holocaust — and Deodato — as influences on their art. The director even made a cameo in Roth's third film, Hostel: Part II, playing a character known as "The Italian Cannibal."

Following the news of Deodato's death, many of his fans and peers have taken to social media to express their sympathy. "Deodato changed the game with CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (one of the first "mockumentaries" that truly blurred the line between fact and fiction for better or worse) and was a driving force in the Italian horror scene. He will be missed but his films will continue to shock and awe," tweeted filmmaker Joe Lynch. Film journalist Charles Bramesco added, "Saddened to hear that Italian exploitation cinema preeminence Ruggero Deodato...has passed. We need more absolute freaks like him."