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Default Cut and Run



Reviewer: Paff
Review Date: January 5, 2002

Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 1/8/2002
MSRP: $19.98
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes



Cannibal Holocaust has the distinction of being considered the "best" of the Italian cannibal flicks. Maybe it's the shocking violence, or the condemnation of the media, or even it's similarity to The Blair Witch Project. Or, maybe it's the direction of Ruggero Deodato. Deodato went back to the South American jungle five years later to film his follow-up, a more restrained rainforest epic called Cut and Run. This movie doesn't have quite the reputation that Holocaust does, but it's actually a more competently made film. On top of that, it was heavily edited for United States release. Well, our favorites of Italian cinema on DVD, Anchor Bay Entertainment, has produced yet another uncut disc of an obscure film, so now we can see what Deodato was really going for in Cut and Run.

The Story

Fran Hudson (Lisa Blount) is a reporter for a fledgling cable TV news outlet. She and her cameraman Mark Ludman (Leonard Mann) are staking out a group of drug smugglers, hoping to get live footage of a drug bust. But the smugglers are massacred before anyone can arrest them. The only clue left behind is a photo, and in that photo are Tommy Allo (Willie Aames) and Colonel Horne (Richard Lynch). Tommy's been long missing, and Colonel Horne was thought to have perished at the Jonestown mass suicide in Guyana. Fran and Mark's boss (Richard Bright) just happens to be Tommy's dad, so he gives the duo permission to find and interview Horne, as well as to search for the "lookalike" who just might be his lost son.

The photo looks like it was taken at a South American landing strip, so it's off to the Amazon. Tommy and Ana (Valentina Forte) are working for fierce drug baron Vlado (John Steiner), but they're plotting an escape. As they begin their breakout, the entire compound is slaughtered by a band of locals led by horror film favorite Michael Berryman, with Tommy and Ana as the only survivors.

Still with me? OK, Fran and Mark arrive at Vlado's compound but everyone's dead except for Ana. Tommy is nowhere to be found. The trio decides to trek 20 miles to another jungle compound and hope to find Tommy along the way. C'mon…it's a Deodato film, you knew there would be some jungle exploration in this one. Faster than you can say "Heart of Darkness," they're on their way up the river to film a live interview with the renegade Colonel Horne. Be prepared for a live television event more shocking than Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger exchanging their vows.


Cut and Run is a roller coaster movie. This is not to say that it's a major thrill ride, but rather it has some serious ups and downs. There is definitely a lack of cohesiveness throughout the whole thing. It almost looks like two or three short movies were edited together to come up with one whole. Cut and Run jumps from a theatrical version of Miami Vice, to a Cannibal Holocaust sequel, and ends up like Apocalypse Now.

Yet in some ways the plot variations make this a lot more watchable than your standard jungle/cannibal adventure. All of your basic jungle films only have about 20-30 minutes worth of plot, and end up with an hour of dull padding, usually jungle hikes, stock footage, and animal killing. At least here everything moves along pretty quickly, and without any turtles sacrificing their lives. When the Miami Vice plotline gets dull, it turns into a jungle rescue/escape film. After that runs it's course, Richard Lynch (who's a great guy if you ever run into him at the many conventions he guests at) does his best Colonel Kurtz.

Something else that sets this movie a little above the other films of it's ilk, is the decent casting. Maybe it's not a who's who of thespians (and some of the dialogue is pretty bad), but at least you've heard of some of the people in this one. Lisa Blount had a big part in An Officer and Gentlemen, Richard Lynch is a veteran villain, and Willie Aames flirted with the Emmy several times for his work on Charles in Charge. Karen Black shows up briefly, but blink and you'll miss her. Best of all though is Eriq LaSalle, who just finished a long run on TV's top-rated ER. Any fan of that show HAS to see Eriq here as a classic pimp, complete with big purple hat and Cadillac.


Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust was supposedly an indictment of the media, and it's obtrusive camera. It's debatable whether or not Holocaust achieved that, but I think Cut and Run does a better job. Deodato was definitely trying for a "contemporary" feel with many references to the bigger news stories of the time. He ties Colonel Horne into the Jonestown mass suicide, which began with the on-air murder of a news reporter. Clearly this is a subject that has fascinated Deodato, and in this film he does a better job of showing how sometimes it's the media that creates the news, rather than just reporting it.

inline Image
This is the first uncut release of Cut and Run in the United States. Much like Anchor Bay's Deep Red DVD, the excised scenes are intact, but in Italian with English subtitles. Though in this case, some of these scenes had alernate less-violent versions in previous "official" US releases. I don't know which scenes are completely different, and which ones are alternates, but the movie wouldn't make much sense if all of those scenes were removed. There were different versions of the movie filmed, for different audiences. This is very briefly touched on in the documentary

So basically, even though Cut and Run is average at best, with an extremely disjointed storyline, it's a step above the typical "Spaghetti Jungle" film. Adding back the cut scenes pushes the violence level closer to some of the more notorious "Banned in 31 Countries!" cannibal extravaganzas. If you're not a fan of this genre, Cut and Run won't change your mind, but just know that there are worse films out there.

Image Quality

inline Image I'm getting pretty tired of trying to come up with good adjectives to describe the video transfers that Anchor Bay has provided. They've come up with some fantastic quality on films that had much lower budget than Cut and Run. So this one looks real good. It's widescreen (1.85:1) and enhanced for anamorphic screens, just like all of Anchor Bay's output. Colors are nice, especially the South American scenery (And I'm not talking about Valentina Forte here. Or maybe I am…). The dark scenes, like the attack on Vlado's compound, have enough contrast to clearly see all the action. Like I said, typical Anchor Bay product.

Sound

This is a par for the course Dolby 2.0 mono disc. It's a typically clear mix, but unfortunately the mono sound really hampers the Claudio Simonetti score. The music he did for this film his very similar to Demons, which came out around the same time. Fans of that movie and it's music will definitely appreciate the soundtrack of Cut and Run. I only wish they could have done a stereo mix, at least of the music, since it comes out rather dull and flat. Or they could have done a separate stereo music track, since I'm sure Simonetti originally recorded in stereo.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Supplement-wise, it's the usual bag of tricks from Anchor Bay. You have the theatrical trailer, as well as a nice Ruggero Deodato bio. But the biggest extra feature is a short documentary, UnCut and Run. It's mostly Deodato himself recounting the making of the film, as well as working with all the actors involved. Richard Lynch shows up too, and at least acknowledges that his role was clearly influenced by the character of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Deodato's enthusiasm for his work, especially this film, makes the 16 minutes of this featurette just fly by.

Final Thoughts

The appeal of the Italian jungle film still escapes me. While Cut and Run is a pretty mediocre film with an inconsistent plot, I think it's a lot better than most films in this sub-genre. It doesn't have quite the shocking violence that marks the cannibal films, but there's at least enough blood to keep the gore hounds watching. The acting is definitely a cut above similar films too. And if you get bored with the direction of the film, don't worry, the plot changes often enough to keep you interested. If you've seen this film before, or if you just want to see it for the first time, you really can't go wrong with this Anchor Bay disc. Cut and Run has to be seen uncut to be appreciated. Add in a nice little Ruggero Deodato interview, as well as the typical Anchor Bay quality, and you'll have about the best you can get in this obscure genre.

Rating

Movie - C+
Image Quality - B
Sound - B-
Supplements - B


Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Unrated
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • Dolby Digital English Mono
  • Dolby Digital Italian Mono

Supplements
  • Director's Introduction
  • UnCut and Run, a featurette with Director Ruggero Deodato, Writer Dardano Sacchetti, Star Richard Lynch and Music Composer Claudio Simonetti
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Ruggero Deodato Bio

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