Sacrifice! (1972)

  • Year: 1972
  • Released: 23 May 1973
  • Country: Italy
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  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: Italian, Burmese, Thai
  • MPA Rating: Unrated
  • Genre: Adventure, Horror, Romance
  • Runtime: 93 min
  • Writer: Francesco Barilli, Massimo D’Avak
  • Director: Umberto Lenzi
  • Cast: Ivan Rassimov, Me Me Lai, Prasitsak Singhara
  • Keywords: photographer, river, thailand, cannibal, video nasty, savage,
39% – Critics
39% – Audience

Sacrifice! Storyline

A photographer, John Bradley, is ambushed by a tribe while on a photo assignment in the Burmese rain forest. The tribe treats him viciously and uses him as a slave. The chief’s daughter, Mayara, takes a liking to him, and her mother, who was a missionary child and speaks English, helps him escape. He encounters the fiancé of Mayara during his escape and kills him. He is captured again afterward, but Mayara chooses him as her next groom. He then decides to live with the tribe, protecting them and providing wisdom against modern dangers and a cannibal tribe they’re at war with.—Helltopay27

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Sacrifice! Movie Reviews

An impressive outing for Umberto Lenzi.

Ivan Rassimov plays American photographer John Bradley, on vacation in Thailand. He and his guide end up deep in the jungle, where he is abducted by a primitive tribe. They put him into a variety of tortures and trials, until finally accepting him as one of their own. He finds adjusting to this new life to be surprisingly agreeable, especially when he becomes smitten with Maraya (Me Me Lai), the lovely daughter of the tribes’ leader.

Considered to the vanguard film in that jungle / cannibal genre popularized by the Italians, this is definitely a trail blazer, but people who’ve already seen more famous entries in the genre may be caught off guard with this one. It’s more of a straight drama (heavily influenced by Elliot Silversteins’ Western “A Man Called Horse”) with touches of horror than a body munching / body count / exploitation feature. In reality, despite the presence of a hostile cannibal tribe in the film, only one person ever gets turned into a feast.

“Sacrifice!”, a.k.a. “The Man from the Deep River”, isn’t without its gory pleasures, however. It benefits from excellent location shooting and utterly convincing local color. It’s wonderfully shot, and scored, and is overall quite appealing and engaging. It’s not to all tastes, though, because it includes some brief moments of animal cruelty that will turn off some members of the audience. This, of course, has only become one of the elements that recurs throughout many an Italian jungle adventure.

Rassimov is good as the hero. The intoxicatingly gorgeous Me Me Lai, who went on to appear in “Jungle Holocaust” and “Eaten Alive!” as well, is very easy to watch. (Viewers should be quite content with the amount of female nudity that is present.) The other performances are quite effective.

This is as good a story of both the beauty and savagery of nature as one could see.

Eight out of 10.

Lenzi’s Pioneering Cannibal Flick

Umberto Lenzi’s “Paese Del Sesso Selvaggio” (aka “Deep River Savages”/”The Man From Deep River”) of 1972 is THE pioneering Italian Cannibal flick, and yet it is not necessarily a typical example for the sub-genre. While this may still be extremely violent for the average cinema fan, it is nowhere near as disturbing and outrageously gory as the Cannibal flicks from the early 80s, such as Ruggero Deodato’s masterpiece “Cannibal Holocaust” (1980) or Lenzi’s very own “Mangiati Vivi” (1980) and “Cannibal Ferox” (1981). The film is often compared to “Dances With The Wolves”, and it is obvious why. “Deep River Savages” is built up more like a traditional adventure movie – with the difference that this one features Cannibals. Cannibalism is not the film’s main focus however and the Cannibals actually play a very small role. This film mainly explores a Westerner’s assimilation to a savage jungle tribe.

On a trip through the unexplored jungle between Thailand and Burma, English photographer John Bradley (Ivan Rassimov) gets captured by a primitive tribe, who hold him prisoner for a while. After some time, however, Bradley falls in love with the tribe’s beauty Maraya (the ravishing Me Me Lai), who is the daughter of the tribe’s chief, and becomes assimilated to the tribe… The film features a lot of sleaze, but it is not nearly as shocking or nauseating as the Cannibal films to come. This is therefore probably the most recommendable Cannibal film for the sensitive when it comes to violence (allthough these people are probably best advised to stay away from the genre in general). Like most entries to the genre the film does feature real animal-killings, so Peta-activists and pals won’t be fond of it either. I happen to love meat, however, and the scenes add a lot of authenticity to the atmosphere. The great late Ivan Rassimov (he died in 2003) was one of the greats in Italian exploitation cinema, especially in Cannibal Flicks. As always, Rassimov delivers an excellent performance. Me Me Lai is stunningly beautiful, and she fits extremely well in the female lead of Maraya, arguably the most lovable character ever in a Cannibal flick. THE beauty of the sub-genre, Me Me Lai appeared in this film, as well as “Cannibal Ferox” and Deodato’s “Ultimo Mondo Cannibale”. Apart from the Cannibal flicks, she sadly did not have many memorable roles before she left the film business in the 80s. “Il Paese Del Sesso Selvaggio” is THE pioneering Cannibal flick, and yet it is an adventure film and even a romance more than it is a Horror film about cannibals. While “Cannibal Holocaust” is the only true masterpiece of the sub-genre, this one is also a highly interesting film that no lover of Italian Exploitation-cinema should consider missing. Most of the Cannibal flicks have their own particular qualities, but this one is quite unique. In case you just want to watch two films of the sub-genre, I would personally recommend to make it “Cannibal Holocaust” and this one.

Repellent but fascinating.

This is often credited as “the first cannibal horror film”, although it has less to do with cannibalism than with Italian shockumentaries such as “Mondo Cane”. Viewing it is an often repellent but altogether fascinating experience – one that you will not soon forget. Umberto Lenzi’s direction, which is a curious mix of skill and amateurishness, combined with the location shooting, give it a documentary-like feel that compensates for the thin and sloppily set-up plot. (***)