Cut and Run (1985)
By: Julian on March 7, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Anchor Bay (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0 Mono. 91 minutes
The Movie
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Starring: Lisa Blount, Leonard Mann, Willie Aames, Richard Lynch, Michael Berryman
Screenplay: Dardano Sacchetti, Cesare Frugone
Country: Italy/USA
The third in Ruggero Deodato's Jungle Trilogy (preceded by Jungle Holocaust and Cannibal Holocaust), Cut and Run stars Lisa Blount as Fran Hudson, a television reporter investigating a series of brutal drug-related killings in Miami. She and her cameraman Mark (Leonard Mann) link the murders to a drug ring-cum-cult in Colombia that coincidentally has taken Tommy, the son of their boss, prisoner. However, things quickly go awry when Mark and Fran stumble upon a sort of macabre drug war between groups of natives (whom Deodato claims were actual cannibals, though we aren't treated to any fictitious flesh eating – too close to home, perhaps?) and Colonel Horne (Richard Lynch), a psychopathic escapee of the Jonestown massacre who's running his own deranged cult. Horne and his cronies, including Michael Berryman's Quencho, live in a jungle drug compound, which constantly comes under attack by natives. The reporters, deep in the jungle and enveloped by the violence, make frequent live broadcasts and they soon realise that they might not make it out. 

Cut and Run is an important picture for two reasons. Firstly, it was one of the last Italian exploitation films from the old guard. Secondly and more vitally, it was one of Deodato's, and the Italotrash genre's, only Americanised films. Originally a Wes Craven project (he certainly would have done better directing this than the tripe that was The Hills Have Eyes II), Deodato came aboard only after Craven backed out. The film also starred a number of notable American B actors, including perennial freakazoid villain Berryman, best known for playing the deranged Pluto in Craven's original The Hills Have Eyes eight years earlier. It's interesting to see how Deodato handles this picture – the excesses of Cannibal Holocaust and his rape-and-revenge classic House on the Edge of the Park have been discarded, save for a few delightfully nasty scenes of grue in which Deodato harks enjoyably back to the glory days of the seventies. One scene in particular, inspired by a Viet Cong trap, is incredibly effective and among the best set pieces the director has fashioned. Despite this, there certainly isn't the grime and decay that was ever-present in Deodato's past work, and it's clear that the director isn't entirely comfortable with his changed subject matter.

A welcome omission to Cut and Run, however, is the animal cruelty. Arguably, this was one of the things that made Deodato's former films so powerful, in that the juxtaposition of real animal violence with fake human violence made the actions seem oh-so-real, and added the director's typical, almost gleeful, sucker-punch to the audience. It was a cruel gimmick though and had even the most jaded of audience members up in arms. The graphic sexual violence prevalent in Holocaust and House is also almost entirely removed and the absence of both Deodato trademarks results in a lighter, more sit-back-and-enjoy type film. There's nothing really nasty or overbearing here, and Cut and Run could be best described as Deodato-lite. Thing is, Deodato-lite is often synonymous with the director's lesser work, and Cut and Run is no exception.

Cut and Run may be a fun movie but like all popcorn flicks it begins to wear thin after a while. Deodato isn't really on serious territory here and aside from a horrific, galvanising prologue, Cut and Run is only really a typical eighties action vehicle. The acting, particularly by Lynch channelling Captain Kurtz, isn't atrocious, but it's by no means praise-worthy. The script is the biggest downfall, and screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti expresses some reservations as to the storyline and conflicting desires of Cut and Run's key crew members – Sacchetti's intentions were to create a glossy, Hollywoodised action-adventure, co-writer Cesare Frugoni wanted to display the downside to human relationships (in a Eurotrash flick? Nice going, you pretentious cock) and Deodato wanted a cinema verite encore of Cannibal Holocaust. None of them really hit the mark. Lisa's news broadcasts adopt a Cannibal Holocaust feel but never does Deodato manage to re-tap Holocaust's raw, visceral vein. It's a shame, because if you watch Deodato's films chronologically (Jungle to House, especially), you can see the general progression of talent that works its way up to Cannibal Holocaust. Holocaust is an absolute masterpiece, and one of the finest works of horror cinema ever committed to celluloid. It's a disappointment then, that the director's follow-up is essentially a shadow of his former work. He directs well, but the material just isn't there – and in that respect, only Sacchetti and Frugoni can be held to blame. Deodato only plummeted downwards after Cut and Run, directing a formulaic American slasher Body Count starring genre icon and House villain David Hess, before gradually fading into obscurity.

Less for horror fans and more for lovers of cheesy B-grade action cinema, Deodato's closure to his Jungle Trilogy does hold appeal, but you'll really have to look to find it.  While enjoyable to a certain extent, Cut and Run is perhaps best known for commencing a creative decline for one of the most influential and brilliantly talented figures in Italian horror cinema, as well as being the picture that marked 'curtains' for Eurotrash.
The picture is excellent and presented in the 1:85:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. Only one scene is severely visually compromised, no doubt to the fury of every gorehound to lay eyes on it. The scene, one of the most deliriously violent in the picture, is of sub-standard VHS quality, but its inclusion makes this print of Cut and Run totally uncut.
Audio has been presented in Dolby Digital English mono, with the previously cut scenes presented in Italian mono with optional English subtitles. Mono never sounds good, and it certainly doesn't sound good here. You're gonna have to really gun the volume during dialogue, and madly turn it down when there's some action.
Extra Features
A sixteen-minute featurette titled Uncut and Run (chortle chortle), which is comprised of interviews with Deodato, Sacchetti, Lynch and composer Claudio Simonetti, a Goblin ex-pat. Talent bios and trailers are also provided. There is also a brief director's introduction to the film.
The Verdict
Cut and Run is nowhere near the misanthropic gorefest a Ruggero Deodato fan could come to expect from the director. While it holds some popcorn appeal, one (particularly one who is familiar with Deodato's past work) can't help but feel this is simply an opportunity lost.
Movie Score
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