Before Cannibal Holocaust and Eaten Alive there was Umberto Lenzi’s Man From Deep River – the film that started the cannibal sub-genre. Ivan Rassimov stars as John Bradley, a daring photographer who travels to Asia to snap wildlife photos. But after killing a guy in self-defense, he is chased through the jungle and captured by primitive natives. After months of living with the natives, they finally accept him as one of them. He marries the chief’s daughter (the only woman there who looks like a model) played by Me Me Lai, and he eventually becomes a John Dunbar’ish savage and fights an evil cannibal tribe. This is a pretty mild and touching film, so gorehounds who are expecting barbarians with bloody axes, spears and grill-seasoning will perhaps find it a bit tame.
But Man From Deep River is a good film. It’s more like Dances With Wolves than Cannibal Holocaust… but you know, with cannibals instead of indians. It’s also very sexy and there’s a lot of focus on the love story between Ivan Rassimov and Me Me Lai. They love to run around naked in slow motion. There’s not a lot of meat eating in the film. However, it’s certainly not dull. There is some gore in it and it has all the right ingredients for a cannibal movie. Blood and rape? You betcha. Animal cruelty and human burgers? Uh-huh. It even has bizarre rituals and classic dialogue like “I am a man, not a fish!” But this is mainly a story about self discovery and it’s much more interested in the love story than human chomping. Ivan Rassimov is very good in the lead and he is undoubtedly the film’s backbone. By the way, it was fun to see him play a good guy for once – he usually plays villains because of his cold grin and piercing eyes. The film drags a bit, but it’s still an important and beautiful one.
Release year: 1972
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Aka. Deep River Savages
– See! The Torture That Makes a Modern Man Defenseless!
– See! The Ritual That Frees a Woman to Love Again!
– See! The Barbaric Punishment of a Trapped Betrayer!
– See! The Love of a Tribal Girl for the Man From Outside!