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CUT AND RUN (1986) ***

Director Ruggero Deodato returns to Cannibal Holocaust-ish territory with this fun and surprising horror-action hybrid. There’s no flesh eating in the film, but we do get plenty of scenes of loincloth wearing natives dismembering people. Toss in a cast filled to the gills with beloved genre vets (Michael Berryman, Karen Black, Richard Lynch, etc.) and you have a recipe for a kickass 90 minutes.

Lynch and his team of natives go running through the jungles of South America disrupting drug shipments. Lisa (Prince of Darkness) Blount is a reporter for Cable Video News who goes down to the jungle to do a story on him. She finds that he has become a religious figure to the natives and has been trying to cleanse the Earth of drugs. Blount also learns that her boss’s missing son (Willie Aames) is an unwilling captive in Lynch’s camp and she tries to rescue him.

Cut and Run is violent, nasty, and a lot of fun. It also happens to contain more jump scares than I can remember in one movie, and they almost always do their job. The flick is also loaded with gore. We get decapitations (including one of the best decapitations since The Exterminator), gut ripping, knives through the knees, and in the film’s standout gross-out moment, a guy’s legs are pulled apart like a wishbone. What’s especially cool about Cut and Run is that the characters often die TWICE in this movie. Usually a native will kill them using a poisoned blow dart, but then someone comes along to cut their head off or stab them in the stomach with a machete to seal the deal.

In some ways, Cut and Run is better than Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust. While it lacks that film’s overall sock-to-the-gut effect, it’s a slick and highly entertaining rollercoaster ride. I also liked how Deodato updated the themes of Cannibal Holocaust for the 80’s. Instead of unscrupulous documentary filmmakers as the leads, it’s unscrupulous cable news anchors. And since it was the ‘80s, cocaine figures heavily into the plot.

Cut and Run also contains what is probably Michael Berryman’s best performance. He’s great as the silent native leader who pops up when you least expect him to slaughter somebody. And Lynch is quite good as the Colonel Kurtz inspired nutzo. (Lynch later appeared in Deodato’s even better, The Barbarians.)

Cut and Run is a lot of fun. However, the film can’t quite sustain its momentum throughout the entire running time. Still, there are enough moments of jaw-dropping gore and cool character actors doing their thing to make it highly recommended.

AKA: Amazon: Savage Adventure. AKA: Straight to Hell.

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