Long before Cannibal Holocaust, and w-a-a-a-a-a-y before Cannibal Ferox came Deep River Savages. The film that kicked off the short lived cycle of sick cannibal pictures by exploitive Italian film makers during the 70's and early 80's.
The story concerns the misfortunes of photographer John Bradley (Ivan Rassimov), who's out photographing exotic parts of South-East Asia. But travels just a little too far up river into uncharted territory, and awakes one morning to find his guide murdered and himself surrounded by rather unfriendly natives. Captured and taken back to their village they then proceed to do some rather unsavoury things to him, including stringing him up and using him for target practice with their blow darts (ouch!!!).
Fortunately, the chief's daughter (Me Me Lai) takes a shine to him, so he gets spared from any further unpleasantries. Then bizarrely, the natives initiate him into their tribe. Kind of like a rather gory, violent version of "A Man Called Horse" One of the more memorable scenes is where one of the villagers are captured by a rival cannibal tribe, who kill them and proceed to start snacking on their extremities, before getting captured themselves by John and the villagers, who return the favour by cutting out their tongues in lovingly gory detail!
Overall, this wouldn't be a bad film. Brutal, shocking, and gory, indeed all the elements you would expect from a good splatter movie. However, if you're viewing the uncut version, where this film falls down was the director's idea to include scene's of genuine animal violence for additional shock impact. These have been cut from the from the current UK release at the insistence of the BBFC, but in the original uncut version we get to see the top of a monkey's head being whacked off, a snake being split open, and a goat having its throat cut in extreme close up, which does nothing to enhance the film and only serves to disgust the viewer.
It therefore comes as no surprise to find that this first cannibal film was directed by Italian film maker Umberto Lenzi, who returned a few years later to disgust us all again with even more vile cannibal pics, most notably Cannibal Ferox.