Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Man From Deep River

MAN FROM DEEP RIVER Directed By Umberto Lenzi, Starring Ivan Rassimov. (1972).

The last time I saw this flick, which is one of the goofiest trailers on the Mad Ron’s Prevues tape, was back in the 90's when Skunkape and I rented it on video from 16000. That place was my sanctuary, they had so much trash that no one appreciated. It was an off shoot of Blockbuster that strictly catered to trash and they had a porn section unlike the squeaky clean corporate conglomerate that now doesn't exist. This was in the pre-Tarantino era before everyone had already seen Cannibal Holocaust and the internet barely existed—aka “the golden era”, when we weren't all staring at our phones. I saw this just after Make Them Die Slowly (aka Cannibal Ferox) and it just didn't measure up in stomach churning sleaze.

the only picture I could find online connected to 16000 video.

From the interview with John Morgen (link), you may remember that Umberto Lenzi is a slime ball, who will go to any length to endanger his actors and murder animals on screen to rake in those exploitation Euros, so the “warning” after the credits, which boils down to "we filmed shit the cannibal tribes did without intervening, for that neorealism effect and didn’t stage any of the animal violence". I just can’t bring myself to buy it, can you? That's the common element through out this entire film, racist gobbilty gook that's as hard to swallow as broken glass.

let me outta this net, I gotta shiiittttt!

Anyway, this time around, I’m enjoying the acting stylings of Ivan Rassimov, he’s way more impressive than I recall. Even though his Play-doh yellow hair is slightly garnish, the dubbing doesn't really effect his charismatic performance.

According to the Third World Cannibal chapter by Steve Bissette in the DR Horror Handbook, this is the very first in a long line of the jungle misadventure, gut munching sub genre that we all know and love. This was inspired by the Richard “someone left the cake out in the rain” Harris flick A Man Called Horse (which I'm betting if I'd already seen would've clear up nothing that this film is trying to ape). It was all shot in Thailand in the Burmese jungle. A strange photo emerged in 2009 that was debunked by as a Buddhist ritual showing a man being dressed like a carcass and eaten, while smiling people pose. That's the only speculative claim that cannibals are in Thailand, but who knows, I mean I eat the fuck outta some Thai food and I ain't no savage. 

John Bradley (Rassimov) is captured by an Asian tribe and suspended in a net, while two men have their tongues cut out--I'm not sure why though.

This is where we first seen Me Me Lai (who is British and Burmese). Lai was in Jungle Holocaust next, which Lenzi was supposed to direct but ultimately spawned Ruggero Deodato's career and Eaten Alive (or Doomed to Die). The last film Lai appeared in was the Criterion Lars Von Trier film Element of Crime. I’ve always wondered if Trier was a fan of the cannibal sub genre. It incessantly bugged me how the tribe speaks another language but they’re never subtitled!   
If only you could comprehend what I'm saying you'd realize I have a spectacular egg salad recipe to share.

What’s very strange to me is how Bradley speculates that this tribe believes him to be a fish. Why does he think that, because they're complete morons? We never get to read what they’re actually saying, so it's doubtful they’re this stupid. The film pushes it’s agenda that savages don’t understand English and since we can’t communicate with each other, it makes up it’s own racist bullshit. One missionary villager even knows that Bradley is American and tries to release him but she must stay incognito, for fear that the tribe will punish her, for what reason I have no idea.

There’s no shortage of naked island babes swimming around and the score goes from soothingly mellow to jarring and intense.

tune in radio Thailand, are you receiving my signal?

The punishment John (Rassimov) receives for escaping is pretty creative, they shoot blowdarts at him through a wall, while a Rube Goldberg style contraption spins him around tied to a pole with a pasta maker attached to the top of his head. I feel like there’s not enough context for me to understand why these series of tortures occur, maybe the script writer dropped his macchiato all over the pages. 

Eventually, they force him solve all their problems, after almost killing him of course, I guess they had to put him through a trial. Next a series of real animals maul each other for the jollies of the Mondo craving audience. It’s pretty insulting (or maybe Trump-esque) that these “savages” are beneath us merely because they don’t speak the same language and are seen as primitive. Also I think if the film gave you their perspective, you'd relate to them more and hear their side. Rather than just consider them a threat because you can't understand them. He finally adapts to their ways (oh yeah and he can understand them but doesn’t speak the language). The third act sluices forward into a fucking romantic drama (with animal deaths thrown in). Ivan and Me Me even manage to produce a child, which he calls a little savage.

Oh yeah and we finally hit cannibal pay dirt but after an hour into the movie! The scene where a girl is hacked up and devoured  if I remember correctly was edited into Doomed to Die. In the DVD interview, Umberto says they found a hooker and just covered her in fake blood and buried her in the sand to get the effect that her limbs were being chewed on. Stay classy freaks!
This film is a benchmark in the sub genre but not mandatory viewing.


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