A photographer on assignment in the rain forest is ambushed and held slave by a primitive tribe, until the chief's daughter chooses him as her groom. After being initiated by various tortures, he becomes a part of the tribe and helps them against modern dangers and a cannibal tribe they're at war with. Written by
Ivan Rassimov dances with savages in Umberto Lenzi's kick-start to the cannibal sub-genre!
Umberto Lenzi was a diverse director, having made Giallo films, Italian crime films and some of the most notorious cannibal flicks, not to mention a whole host of other films with various sub-genres of horror. Deep River Savages is the film that is often given credit for kicking off the whole cannibal tradition, and it's also a member of the British 'Video Nasty' list, which lead to it's banning in the eighties. It's odd that this film should be on that list; however, as it's debatable as to whether or not it's even a horror film. Sure, it features some gore; but this is more like an early version of Dances with Wolves than its more bloodthirsty cannibal film cousins. The film follows Ivan Rassimov; a man who, after accidentally killing another man in a bar, finds himself in the Amazon jungle, where he is taken captive by a bunch of savages. After enduring various tortures, he finds himself the object of affection for a dim-witted female member of the tribe, and when she chooses him as her husband; he soon realises that despite being bloodthirsty savages; these guys aren't all that bad...
Ivan Rassimov is one of my favourite cult Italian actors, and he does well in this film as his rugged appearance fits the feel of the movie very well and this makes him believable in the lead role. His performance gives the film credibility; something which is lacking in a lot of these types of films. He is joined by his Last Cannibal World and Eaten Alive co-star Me Me Lai, whose appearance again helps the movie and the pair do actually bode quite well on screen together. Umberto Lenzi's direction is assured as usual, and he does a good job of ensuring that the location fits the tone of the movie at all times. The jungle setting is well realised, and the shots the savages' village look great. The film is, like Kevin Coaster's highly rated nineties film, more than a little bit cheesy; and this isn't helped by Ivan Rassimov's voice-over. If it wasn't for the fact that I've seen 1957's 'Run of the Arrow', I would imply that Kevin Costner stole ideas from Umberto Lenzi. Of course, Dances with Wolves was about an Indian tribe; but there isn't a lot of difference. Still, I'd take Ivan Rassimov and cannibals before Kevin Costner and Indians any day! Overall, this isn't one of the 'great' Italian cannibal films...but it's not bad either.
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