9 July 2004 | Coventry
Dances With Wolves...with a cannibal-twist!
Deep River Savages represents Umberto Lenzi's first steps in the notorious field of cannibalism and jungle adventure movies. This infamous director will gross out entire audiences during the early 80's, with vicious cult flicks like `Cannibal Ferox'; `Eaten Alive by the Cannibals' and `Nightmare City'. This film is more like a pioneer and Lenzi carefully explores the primitive jungle communities and their traditional rites. Deep River Savages isn't half as gross as the title and DVD-cover leads you to believe and it basically is a social portrait mixed with an authentic love-story!
Believe it or not! Actually
the best way to describe this film is: Dances with Wolves
with cannibals! The plots of both movies are pretty much alike, the only differences are the setting and the fact Kevin Costner's film is praised all over the world while nobody has ever heard of Deep River Savages. John an Englishman is traveling across Eastern Asia when he gets mixed up in a bar-fight. He accidentally kills a man and flees on one of the many unknown rivers. He ends up as a prisoner in primitive tribe, somewhere deep in the jungle. The aboriginals actually form a rather joyful community! They spend their days watching animal-fights (roosters and snakes versus martens) and swimming naked. Our civilized' friend is tortured at first and he attempts to escape. But, pretty soon he falls in love with the local beauty (Me Me Lai who looks even better here than she did in Deodato's Jungle Holocaust) and marries her. John feels at home there now and he even helps the tribe in fighting the sadistic enemy-tribe from the across the river.
The film contains very few action sequences and is overall pretty boring. I don't blame Lenzi for this, though. Even though I prefer his later splatter films, you have to keep in mind this movie was made in 1972! Deep River Savages also looks very cheap, amateurish and the cinematography isn't anywhere near as stunning as in other cannibal films. The whole movie depends on Me Me Lai's beautiful naked body and the short (but action-packed) climax. Nonetheless, it stays recommended to Italian horror-admirers who're interested in the roots of `Savage Cinema'.