Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Man from the Deep River (1972)

I'm not an expert (or a fan) on cannibal films but everyone says that The Man from Deep River was the start of the Italian cannibal trend, and it could be true. Made during the early seventies and setting the standards, stereotypes and scenes for more or less every cannibal flick made until the eighties. Shot in Thailand by director Umberto Lenzi and starring a very blonde and hunky Ivan Rassimov plus a smaller army of Thai actors, among them Pipop Pupinyo - who always played brutal henchmen in most Thai movies from the seventies I've seen.

John Bradley (Ivan Rassimov) plays a photographer who goes to Thailand (with SAS plane Frode Viking, just a detail). He lands in Bangkok, checks around town, watches some thaiboxing and gets himself into a fight in a bar - kills a man (played by an actor I recognize so well!) and escapes to the countryside. After his guide is killed he's taken prisoner by a tribe and after some gruesome tests he's take in as a true member. Of course the beautiful and very nude Me Me Lai falls for him and he for her and the only thing who can destroy their life now is a village of angry cannibals nearby!

Yeah, its a lot in this movie we all seen and heard in later movies. From the stunningly beautiful soundtrack to torture and animal cruelty. Except that always unnecessary inclusion of killing real animals The Man from Deep River is a surprisingly serious movie, taking most of it's inspiration from A Man Called Horse. Rassimov is a good and complex hero, making better use of the script than a lesser actor would do. Or maybe I just should see his motivations through his eyes: Me Me Lai is naked all the time wants him, so it's a nice place to stay. But I prefer to read him more like a man who takes the chance to change his life to something more free and natural.

This is easily Lenzi's best foray into the nasty business of cannibal movies. It's less exploitative and more focused on a classic adventure tale than on a gore-soaked horror movie - and that's fine with me because the cannibal genre always needed a bit of seriousness to be able to entertain me. It's not without gore and blood, a chopped of hand - some nibbling on human flesh, a stab or two - but unfortunately most of the gruesome stuff is spent on killing animals.

Shot in Thailand also means a lot of Thai actors in supporting parts. The only one I recognize is the man that's killed in the beginning - I'm sure I've seen him in some of Kom Akadej's movies or bad guys opposite Sombat Metanee - and the second one is of course the above mentioned Pipop Pupinyo. I've taken some screenshot and posted them on my other blog, The Mee Noi Thai Movie Review, to try to identify the other cast. The credits seem to use their real names: Prasitsak Singhara, Sulallewan Suxantat, Ong Ard, Prapas Chindang, Tuan Tevan, Song Suanhud and Pairach Thaipradit.

The Swedish cannibal box including this, Jungle Holocaust and Amazonia, looks very good and recommended for European fans. 


Anonymous said...

Me Me Lai was very cute...I haven´t seen this one but your review made me very interested in this film.

Say, Ninja, do you if Cannibal Holocaust (1980)was the first found footage film..?

Or were there earlier attempts..?

Ninja Dixon said...

Actually I was reading an article last week about lost movies, and they mention one movie - Ingagi, from 1930 - that could be considered the first found footage movie :) Here's the link, really interesting stuff:

Anonymous said...

Ninja: Why thank you!!!!

1930 huh...well have you seen the surreal film Lot in Sodom (1933)..?

Some claims this film contains the first gay sex scenes...non pornographic but still....its on Youtube Ninja....