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Man From Deep River (1972)

DVD Cover (Shriek Show)
Cannibal Film, Horror, Jungle Film
Umberto Lenzi Umberto Lenzi
Ivan Rassimov Ivan Rassimov
Me Me Lai Me Me Lai
Prasitsak Singhara Prasitsak Singhara
Sulallewan Suxantat Sulallewan Suxantat
Ong Ard Ong Ard
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5.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: February 06, 2007
We probably wouldn't have the beloved zombie genre as we know it without Romero's Night of the Living Dead, we most likely wouldn't see a couple of new direct-to-video vampire movies every week without Dracula, and we probably wouldn't have had the surge in cannibal films during the seventies without Man From Deep River. Yes, this is the one that pretty much set the genre into motion, but after watching it, I'm surprised that anyone bothered to imitate it.

The storyline finds photographer John Bradley (Ivan Rassimov) boating down a river with his native guide in search of some good wildlife and jungle pictures. John gets some good shots alright, and he also winds up getting himself captured by a tribe of savages that murders his guide before putting him to work as a slave. He eventually catches the eye of the village elders' daughter Marayć (Me Me Lai), and it doesn't take long before she wants to claim him as her own personal "pet" - a change in his situation which isn't too nice on the surface, but it keeps him out of trouble with the other tribe members. One thing leads to another and this civilized man eventually falls in love with this savage woman, and we have a movie.

This storyline really doesn't feature a whole lot of cannibalism action; in fact, the main tribe that we see for ninety percent of the film is either a non-cannibal group of people or they never got hungry enough to eat their fellow man. A neighboring tribe which does consist of cannibals shows up for a whopping five minutes and takes a couple of bites out of a single woman, and that's the extent of the man-on-(wo)man dining. The main focus of the story is the relationship between the "normal" guy and the tribeswoman, and while that might have worked out nicely in another film, it definitely doesn't work in this one. Director Umberto Lenzi made his name in horror, and this movie shows why that is the case: when it comes to telling a story involving drama and relationships, he's a step removed from clueless.

There is a number of animal cruelty scenes in this movie, which - depending on your stance on the subject - will either excite or disgust you. It doesn't do much for me one way or the other, but it started to get old due to the fact that it seems like we were watching a new animal kill in every other scene. We see more animal kills throughout the running time than we do human death scenes, a fact which disgusted me in more ways than one - and none of those reasons had anything to do with me feeling sorry for the critters.

It wasn't all bad, I have to admit. There was some nice cinematography on display, and leading man Ivan Rassimov was pretty good in his role (even though he was responsible for one of the silliest lines in horror movie history, that being the infamous scream of "I'm a man, not a fish!"). It's always nice to see Me Me Lai turn up in one of these films, even though her acting abilities are... well, she's quite beloved amongst fans of exploitation fare, but she rarely speaks in her movie roles if that tells you anything about why she consistently found work.

Overall though, it's a forgettable entry in the cannibal subgenre and should be skipped by all but the most hardcore of fans. There's not enough horror and gore on display for the horror fans, but the numerous animal cruelty scenes would probably turn most of the drama fans off - which is a shame, because the latter group is probably the only one that would enjoy the story found here. 4/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 02/06/2007, 10:33 AM
Surprised you didn't like this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I guess it's just my thing. 7/10.
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