Umberto Lenzi’s film has gone by many different names with Mondo Cannibale and Sacrifice! being but two of them. But it was when it was released on UK video as Deep River Savages that it gained controversy during the Video Nasties furore.
This was actually one of the few Video Nasties I had never seen before. I was expecting some inept, scratchy awful Z-grade movie. How wrong I was! The print I saw of the film was gorgeous with the stunning cinematography being shown in all of its glory and with a colour palate that bursts from the screen. The version I watched was the UK DVD version which had all of the controversial animal cruelty cut out which I am more than OK with.
The plot concerns British photographer and Flash Gordon lookalike John Bradley travelling to Thailand to photograph the rainforest there. He accidentally kills a man who pulls a knife on him in a bar with Bradley turning the knife on his aggressor during the scuffle. He then voyages further into the rainforest and is soon taken captive by a tribe there.
There are many shocking scenes within the film and the contraption that Bradley is placed in that was predominately featured on the movie posters used to publicise the film is very much something to behold. But there is poignancy within the film with Bradley falling in love with a female member of the tribe.
Was Deep River Savages so shocking that it deserved to be banned outright and placed on the Video Nasties list? Of course not. It’s an engaging, thoroughly enjoyable yarn that is visually sumptuous. Ironically if the film didn’t receive the notoriety that it did back in the day then maybe it would have disappeared into obscurity rather than being of interest still to fans of horror and exploitation films. The print I watched had obviously been restored and cleaned up and for such a labour of love to be carried out on a film such as Deep River Savages makes me think that some people saw the film as worth preserving. That’s utterly commendable.
4 stars out of 5