The Man from Deep River

Poster

Video Nasty #7 of 72

Year of Release: 1972
Directed by:  Umberto Lenzi
Run Time: 93 minutes
Alternate Titles:  Original Title: Il paese del sesso selvaggio (Translated literally as The Country’s Wild Sex), also released as Deep River Savages, Sacrifice!, and Mondo Cannibale
UK Censorship Status: Released with 3 mins 45 secs of animal cruelty cuts in 2003

One interesting thing about going through this list chronologically is that early on you get a lot of films that kick started a lot of genres that most critics despise and most normal people stay far away from. Blood Feast was the first real gore film, Bay of Blood laid the groundwork for the slasher genre, and Love Camp 7 was the first of many nazisploitation films.  It’s almost like a crash course in the history of exploitation film making.  Now we’re up to our second Italian film and the one that’s often considered to be the first of what might really be the very bottom of the barrel in terms of cheap shocks on celluloid, the Italian cannibal film.  Oh joy…

John Bradley (the dashing Ivan Rassimov, who starred in a lot of these things)  is a British photographer sent into the jungles of Thailand to take pictures of rain forest wildlife.  When the film starts out, he’s watching a kickboxing match while his dates gets more and more annoyed and eventually gets up and leaves, which doesn’t seem to bother our man of the hour much.  It does appear to bother a random Thai man, however, who meets up with Bradley in a bar and pulls a knife on him. Bradley is something of a super stud and twists the man’s arm, stabbing him in the stomach before making a hasty retreat.
Now in any normal film this would be treated with some level of importance, plot wise, but director Umberto Lenzi oddly makes the decision to never have this event either mentioned again or even have it have any impact on anything! Bradley just goes on his merry way, calmly hiring a guide to take him into the jungles.  Huh.  Guess that was just to kill screen time then….
Long story short, the guide gets killed and Bradley ends up getting captured by a jungle dwelling tribe who tie him up in a big net in a tree so the kids can hit him with sticks.
Bradley’s savior comes in the form of Marayå (the gorgeous and perpetually naked Me Me Lai, who also starred in a lot of these things) the chief’s daughter who instantly becomes fascinated with our square jawed hero.
This seems like Bradley’s key to getting back to civilization, but does he really want to do that? Certainly not after a pack of bizarre rituals are performed on him to make him a tribal warrior and his eventual marriage to Marayå. And what of  those dudes from that cannibal tribe that had their tongues cut out early on? Oh, I’m sure we won’t see any more of them around….

I’m going to throw this right out there: I am not a big fan of these movies. At all. In fact, a viewing of Lenzi’s Cannibal Ferox was what really put me off trying to get through this list the first time (although I’ll sit through it again eventually for the sake of this quest).  They’re just zero fun.  I mean, I love cheap junk as much as the next person but cannibal films just don’t sit well with me. Part of it is how blatantly racist they are, feeding off of white people’s fears of brown people and anywhere that isn’t a big modern city.  Man from Deep River isn’t as bad in that respect since at least one tribe is depicted as actually human, just backwards with a lot of weird rituals, instead of faceless and totally monstrous. The shady cannibal tribe fits the bill nicely, but they’re hardly in the actual film at all, making what seems like token appearances at the beginning and end.
In fact,  most of this film is actually a pretty harmless and even a bit dull rip-off of A Man Called Horse, with most of the gore also oddly missing (later cannibal films would rectify this little oversight 100 times over).
What really bothers me though, and what really sucks pretty much all the fun out of this and the entire genre, is the real animal slaughter that happens onscreen.  I’ve stated before that I consider murdering animals purely for shock value to be pretty vile and sadly, this really became a staple of the Italian cannibal film, starting here.  You don’t need to fucking do that, prop animals would work just as well and you really can’t help but project your hatred at the director for making the decision to include it.  And to include it over and over and over again.
And you can’t throw ” it was for realism” around either, because these films are fake as shit otherwise.  It’s just abhorrent.  Not only that but it distracts from the rest of the film because you’re still reeling from it when the movie proper starts again. It doesn’t really shock me, it just makes me sick and makes me wish I were doing anything other than sitting through the fucking film.
Sadly before this is over, there’s about four or five of these things on here, two of which I’ve already seen. Uck.  Oh well, I shall soldier on.  I’ll probably just need some beer and some Bugs Bunny cartoons after….

Watch the trailer here (It features some brief glimpses of the film’s rampant animal cruelty, but you can tell pretty easily what the main selling point was…)

Random things

  • This movie isn’t very entertaining, but that torture contraption they put Bradley in (featured on the poster and in the trailer) is at least good for a laugh.
  • From a critical stand point the only real thing you can look deeper into here is the village burning scene, which has obvious parallels to Vietnam.
  • Remembering back to a documentary on the Cannibal Ferox disc, there’s a story about the main star of that movie not wanting to shoot a pig and Lenzi getting mad, grabbing the gun away from him and doing it himself, causing the actor to storm off set. What a real piece of shit.

Next time: The Cannibal Man (Which is oddly not a jungle cannibal film)

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