Plot: An adventurer and his sidekick must stop a power-mad drug dealer from stealing the title commodity.
You know you’re in good hands when a movie starts and the names Bo Svenson, Anita Ekberg and Donald Pleasence march across the screen. Not to mention Pleasence’s “Special Guest Star” credit “as Blasko.” This provides a pretty firm clue that we’re in Made-for-TV territory, a supposition confirmed by a quick trip to the IMDB.
Then there’s the title. I mean, isn’t it a tad redundant? What, really, is the difference between “Gold of the Amazon Women” and “Gold of the Amazons”? You see my point, right?
Unfortunately, this will prove one of those films that’s monumentally silly in the beginning but which slacks off a bit as it goes along. Not that there aren’t some primo moments later, but if they had maintained the pace of the first twenty minutes this would have been a classic. Instead it’s merely a good choice for a Saturday night cheesefest, especially now that it’s widely (?) available on DVD (!).
We open on a big city, presumably New York, not that it really matters. Anyway, pattering across various rooftops are two athletic young women carrying longbows. (I will give the stuntwomen this; considering the no doubt small amount of money they were paid, they’re pretty game in terms of running up and down ledges and such.) They are adorned in the standard fur-n-skin outfits that are B-Movie shorthand for jungle and/or prehistoric female societies. As are also, actually, their neatly groomed hair, straight white teeth and skillfully applied mascara. We watch as they (sort of) skulk around, wondering how they manage to remain unobserved through all the windows of the taller buildings surrounding them.
Cut to Our Hero, Tom Jenson (Svenson), strolling down a boulevard. The aftereffects of the ’70s are still lingering, as indicated by his longish hair. Reaching his destination, he enters *cough, cough* The Discovers Club and is greeted by the club’s receptionist. This lady will prove the source of much audience amusement in her brief appearance. This derives from a lack of acting ability so pronounced that one immediately postulates some sort of relationship between her and one of the producers. This theory, although admittedly ungallant, is further strengthened by the series of intrinsically useless close-ups she receives. I won’t say she’s the worst actress I’ve ever seen. Still, she’s clearly hovering in the top one percent, in itself a rather remarkable achievement. Actually, now that I think about it, her utter lack of talent and slightly Teutonic accent rather remind me of the woman who played Valaria in Robot Holocaust.
And then there’s our star. Bo Svenson from his first lines manages to project the profound boredom and contempt that will flavor his performance in this picture. The parade of grimaces and tics he’ll offer in lieu of actual acting is another one of the picture’s joys. In any case, we are now treated to some horribly scripted banter between a woman who can’t act and a guy who can’t be bothered to. The point of this badinage, to the extent there is one, is that some mysterious fellow has been incessantly calling and leaving messages for Our Hero.
Inside the club Jensen hooks up with the foppish Michael Jorn and explorer groupie Luis Escobar. Dorn’s hideous sports jacket, festooned with the inevitable cravat, adds to the general spell of hilarity. There then follows a nice moment when an actor playing a waiter appears. He takes Jensen’s order for coffee and, thinking his part done, turns to head off camera. Svenson, however, perhaps adlibbing, tosses out a one-word request that the coffee be black. The actor, pausing confusedly at this presumably unscripted moment, awkwardly stutter-steps before continuing off. Anyone who’s attended high school dramatic presentations will be acquainted with such moments.
Escobar is excited to meet Jensen, purportedly one of the last great explorers. He wonders why Jensen is currently working as a longshoreman, however. Jensen explains that the great days of exploration are over. Everything, pretty much, has been mapped at this point. The naÃ”ve Escobar proves to be a retailer of camping equipment, quickly pegging him as the guy who will fund Jensen’s eventually exploration for Amazon gold. It’s amazing what a title and a short series of obvious clichÃˆs will allow one to fill in.
(Future Ken: Actually, this is one of the cases where avoiding the clichÃˆ makes the film dumber than going with it. Jensen later lets Escobar join him on the trip – duh – but warns him that he’ll have to “buy your own plane ticket.” This leaves us wondering how Jensen himself can afford to go, particularly since they went to the effort of explaining that he’s currently employed at manual labor because, as he explains, “I have to eat.” I mean, they set up a more or less destitute hero, provide him with an admiring sidekick possessing some degree of financial means, and then don’t assemble the pieces correctly. It’s weird.)
The Receptionist, who from her awkward posture is clearly unsure how to stand whilst on camera, briefly walks on camera and tells Jensen that his mystery caller phoned again. (A really good bad actress will telegraph that she’s been standing right off-camera waiting for her cue to step forward, and this one doesn’t disappoint.) The caller would like to meet out in front of the club. Nodding to his mug, Our Hero tells Jorn to “Keep my coffee warm” (??) and heads out. I can’t explain why, but that line kills me every time I hear it. How the hell does someone keep your coffee warm? And who would ever say such a thing in the first place?
Outside, Jensen is approached by a hobbling old man with a cane. This worthy proves to be Frederick Reynolds, a legendary explorer of the old school, now believed dead. To our immense lack of surprise, he hands over a map to the Seven Lost Cities of El Dorado. Said cities are full of gold, per the legend, and guarded by….why, yes, Amazons. How’d you…oh, the title. Right. Anyway. Reynolds warns that Blasko, a drug dealer, is also after the legendary treasure hidden there. He fears that if this ne’er-do-well procures the gold, he’ll use it to “control the world’s drug market.” I have to wonder why someone who suddenly finds himself the single richest man in the world would bother to keep selling drugs, but hey, everyone needs a hobby, I guess.
Jensen asks Reynolds why he cares about the whole “Evil Drug Dealer Gaining Fabulous Wealth and Power” thing. This seems to me the kind of thing that might concern many people, but there you go. Besides, the question sets up a fabulous Emmy Clip Moment when the guy playing Jensen poorly fakes a Moment of Emotion. “My son,” he quivers, “was an addict!!” Anyhoo, he wants Jensen to get to the gold first, or just keep Blasko from getting it, or something. Then he hands Jensen a map and within literally eight seconds (as I had just kidded to myself shortly before) ends up with two arrows in his back.
Jensen dumps Reynolds to the ground and runs across the street to the building upon which he spotted the assassins. This is accompanied by a musical composition that proves once and for all why the tuba isn’t the instrument of choice for ‘action’ themes. Jensen makes it upstairs right quick, and the women are – conveniently – still waiting for him. Of course, despite having just skewered a target much smaller and farther away, they can’t hit our awkwardly loping hero. Instead, they fire arrows into each another, thus taking their secrets to the grave. (I’m assuming the arrows are poisoned, because they shoot each other in the stomach. Such wounds would take many agonizing hours, if not days, to kill you.) Watch this segment closely: Despite firing from a distance of perhaps fifteen feet, one arrow takes a rather leisurely three seconds to reach its target.
Cut to Jorn, Jensen and Escobar leaving Reynolds’ funeral. Strangely, despite the rather outrÃˆ circumstances of Reynolds’ demise, we never see any indication that the cops have involved themselves in the killings. Moreover, there’s no press in attendance, odd considering that the coot was a world famous explorer shot down in New York City by bow-wielding kamikaze Amazon babes. I mean, you’d think The Post at least would show up.
Instead, we see an evident thug who closely resembles the Irish assassin from Austin Powers – International Man of Mystery. He follows the guys back to the Club, where they’re to have lunch. Assassin Guy sneaks down to the *cough, cough* wine cellar – a storage closet where the prop people stuck a couple of boxes of wine bottles – and knocks out a waiter who miraculously proves to wear the exact same size of clothes he does.
Let’s see if I’m following this plan: Knock out the first guy who walks into the wine room. Put on his uniform, trusting that it’ll fit you to a tee. Leave the guy naked in the wine room, trusting that no one will find him. Head upstairs to Jensen’s table to get their wine order, trusting that the guy you knocked out was the waiter for that table. Get the wine order and head back down to the wine room. Locate the correct bottle (good thing he knows his wines!) and insert the poison. Take it back up upstairs to the target’s table, trusting that no one else on the staff will question who you are during any of this. Pour the tainted wine and watch with satisfaction as he drinks it and bites the dust. Yes, that’s a foolproof plan, alrighty.
In a pretty hilarious bit, AG indeed brings the bottle of now-poisoned wine back to the table. Now, if you were looking to kill one particular diner out of three with poisoned wine, you might choose a poison that took several minutes to act. Instead – who’d thought? — Jorn takes the first sip and pretty much immediately keels over, somewhat reducing the likelihood that Jensen will also quaff his lethally laced beverage. Oddly, Assassin Guy stands there and waits until his victim hits the floor before running off, apparently so as to maximize the suspiciousness of his actions. Jensen gives chase, and the guy runs into the street and is hit by a car. (Gee, that’s original.) Nearby is a limo containing an annoyed looking Blasko.
By the way, if Assassin Guy had just produced a pistol and shot Jensen we could all stop watching the movie now. (Stupid Assassin Guy.) But no, it had to be poisoned wine. I’m surprised he didn’t try to lure Jensen into a room where the walls come together and crush you to death before dropping your remains into a piranha tank.
Jensen and Escobar head down to Somewhere In South America, as indicated by some airplane stock footage. Jensen gives Escobar a cover story: He’s a veterinarian gathering animals for a zoo. Upon arrival they go to talk to a priest. When Escobar begins to give him the cover story Jensen interrupts, because you don’t lie to clergy, I guess. I think this is supposed to once more demonstrate Escobar’s lack of street smarts, but why give a guy a cover story and then blow it to the first person you talk with? Anyway, they learn that someone broke in some weeks ago and stole the ancient maps they’re looking for. Luckily, though, the thieves took the originals but left behind some copies, which the good Father nonchalantly forks over.
The guys go to a hotel. Unbeknownst to them, Blasko is sitting in the lobby with his two female companions. Because sitting around with two tall, thin and attractive women hanging off you, I guess, is the best way not to draw attention to yourself. He’s also ‘disguised’ by sitting in a wheelchair and wearing dark glasses. Here the filmmakers are apparently concerned that we won’t ‘get’ who stole the maps – duh — so the girls ask Blasko why he did so. (Since this is supposedly three weeks after the maps were stolen, this query would seem to lack a certain freshness.) He replies that he knows the general area where the gold is, but not the exact location. He still doesn’t, in fact, only Jensen’s map contains that info.
The guys head upstairs. Following this is a very strange and inadvertently funny moment. Blasko has the girls push him over to the lobby’s luggage station – whereupon he whips off his lap blanket and stands up in the middle of the hotel lobby! Huh?! What?! I mean…what? Was this done to ‘surprise’ the audience? Were we supposed to assume that Blasko was crippled (because of this one short scene) and then react with shock upon learning that he isn’t? Because it seemed obvious from the start that he was using the chair as camouflage. Whatever. Certainly it terms of the scene it seems purposeless. Isn’t this the kind of thing – rising up from a wheelchair — that would call people’s attention to you? In any case, he passes a cloth bag to the luggage station guy and leaves.
This sets up the movie’s prize sequence. Upstairs, Jensen opens his newly arrived suitcase. Here we cut to a close-up of an egregiously obvious rubber snake, the sort of thing you’d buy in a Kmart, in his bag. Now, I’ve shown this bit to two experienced Jabootuists, Andrew Muchoney and Jeff Witham, and each immediately called out something I hadn’t even noticed: “They didn’t even bother to repaint it!” And my comrades were correct. Whoever procured the snake from the Five & Ten store didn’t even bother to paint over the original – and quite garishly bogus – green and silver splotches it came adorned with.
So the *cough* snake springs at Jensen, using the sort of wirework that probably won’t call to mind Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger. Our Hero manages to snag the striking snake, using the innovative “You hold the snake, then we’ll pull it from your hand and print the film backwards” technique. This sort of thing generally looks pretty phony and this is no exception, to say the least. Jensen then kills the snake by walking it over to a table where he steps on its head. Now, there’s so much going on here that I wouldn’t want you to miss another highly comic element. For in the background the guy playing Escobar stands hands-on-hips and watches all of this – a killer snake leaping from his companion’s bag, the guy catching it mid-air and then carefully walking across the room to kill it – with such a blasÃˆ expression that you’d think he sees this sort of thing every day.
Jensen, recognizing a deathtrap, tells Escobar to pack up. First, however, they stop to change into fresh shirts (!). (This one’s for the ladies, I guess.) Meanwhile, Blasko and his two molls are approaching. For a drug lord, he doesn’t seem to have that big of a staff. They stop down the hallway, where they assemble their vast drug lord arsenal of a .38 snub-nosed revolver and two shotguns, one a single shot breechloader. Then they continue on towards the guys’ room. Finding the door locked — Blasko can bribe the luggage guy to put a deadly snake in a guest’s bag, all in plain sight in the hotel lobby, but apparently can’t procure himself a passkey — they open fire on the lock. If this was their plan, you wonder why they bothered with the snake.
Now, I want to accurately get across the layout of the room here. It’s a typical hotel room: A short hallway leading into a main room containing twin beds. So our heroes hear the shots – not surprising, they’re coming from ten feet away – and slowly head over to the balcony where they take their time shimmying down a tree. Luckily for them, Blasko and his ladies wait a full ten seconds before entering. On the other hand, the villains are armed with your typical Magic Guns. Blasko himself fires at least a dozen shots from his revolver.
Escaping in their battered jeep, Our Heroes head for the jungle. At one point Jensen notes that they have left the final road and will now be driving in the rough. Whereupon they head through some brush on a quite evident path sporting quite evident tire grooves. They intend to stop at a native village on the outskirts of the deep country, where “we can try to get some supplies.” Said supplies seem the kind of thing that would have been easier to bring with them from the city, but there you go. He also notes that they have enough gas for two hundred miles, after which they’ll walk. Too bad they didn’t load any gas cans in the empty cargo bed of their jeep.
Anyhoo, they arrive at the native village, thatch huts and all. The denizens of which are black people wearing feathers and loincloths. Now, I’m no anthropologist, but these folks appear rather more African than South American. Here things begin to slow down considerably. We’ll spend about ten boring minutes in the village as they roll out a series of clichÃˆs, ones that were overused back in the ’30s:
- There’s the laughing, pigeon-English speaking Village Chief.
- Despite the fact that the villagers have had prior contact with White Men (or so we’ve been told), one kid cautiously pokes their jeep with a spear, as if he had never seen one before.
- Comedy: The Chief points towards a group of four women and says “Wife.” Escobar asks Jensen which one he means. “All of them,” comes the totally unexpected and thus humorous reply. (Mission of Hilarity accomplished, the women shuffle off-camera.)
- The Chief tells Jensen that many men have passed through his village into the jungle, but none have ever returned. Bum bum bum.
- Escobar eats some stew, praises it, then spits it out when told it’s monkey meat. (Which isn’t even particularly gross.) The chief and Jensen laugh.
- The Jocular Chief laughingly offers a perplexed Jensen a grossly fat native woman to have sex with.
- That night they tribe performs a suspiciously African-style dance-round-the-campfire, accompanied by drums and native chanting right out of Zulu. They decorate their white visitors with make-up and braid Jensen’s hair.
- A horny Jensen dances opposite a beautiful and well-endowed native girl, prompting a fight with Noboro, her jealous mate.
- Noboro knocks Jensen into a hut, follows, and a second later inevitably comes flying back out, presumably the victim of a returned punch. This is “funny.” Also inevitably, given the type of film this it, they don’t shoot it in one take. Sure enough, the cast shadows noticeably change between the guy entering the hut and coming back out again.
- The combatants strenuously beat the crap out of each other — although neither is marked or in any way worse for wear the next day – and of course instantly become the best of friends.
- Jensen offers to shake hands with Noboro, but the guy doesn’t understand what shaking hands means. Comedy.
Frankly, the only things they somehow missed was an Evil Village Witchdoctor and a box of sacred hand grenades guarded by a statue of a six-armed goddess that slaps interlopers.
So they guys head into the jungle, with Noboro deciding to come along. He rides in the back with the piled-up “supplies” (basically some bananas and a water jug, big whoop). These will all magically disappear in a couple of shots anyway, so never mind. Making this funnier is that we notice the vanished stuff right after Escobar asks whether they’ll have enough food now that Noboro’s coming with. Well, considering that you now don’t have any, maybe not.
In a clearing that looks nothing like the terrain we’ve just seen them in (in fact, you can sometimes see buildings way in the back of the shots), Blasko and his chicks fly over them in a helicopter. They shoot at the jeep, and the likelihood of someone hitting a moving target by sticking his forearm out of the window of a flying ‘copter and awkwardly firing a snub-nosed .38 revolver struck me as rather improbable. Amazingly, though, he and his ladies do manage to repeatedly shoot into the hood of the car, as indicated with squibs. The amusing part is that the ‘bullet holes’ dance across the hood in a straight line. This would only be possible (well, not even then, given the circumstances) with an automatic rate of fire, like from a submachine gun. The idea that you could accomplish this with a pistol is moronic. And, of course, the car eventually explodes and gushes into huge, raging flames. Despite the established fact that they were short on gas.
Having made it to the woods, the guys soldier on. Meanwhile, Blasko explains to his chicks that Jensen has “the map,” the one, presumably, that Reynolds gave him earlier. You might be wondering why they don’t get out and pursue Jensen’s party, so they give Blasko a line noting, “I can’t land here.” Yes, it’s certainly hard to land a helicopter on, uh, a flat field. Or something. Anyway, there’s a fellow, he explains, who has what he needs to help get the map.
Back to the guys. Escobar expositories that they’ve been walking for four hours. The same amount of time, I think, that I’ve been watching this movie. Oh. I’m sorry; it’s only been about forty minutes. My mistake. Anyway, I guess he and Jensen have been walking around the whole time with their revolvers in their hands, which doesn’t seem like the safest idea, but there you go. Also, I can’t help noticing that the guys’ pistols sometimes have two-inch barrels and sometimes four-inch barrels. Maybe it’s the humidity.
Escobar decides he wants out. (After walking deeper into the brush for four hours – good one, brainaic.) Of course he doesn’t actually leave, but they have fifty-five minutes of running time left to eat up and need any extraneous plot points they can come up with. Then Noboro finds a substance for them to eat. He gives Escobar a hunk of it, but the latter spits it out upon learning that it’s full of termites. Then Jensen and Noboro laugh at him. Which is the second time they’ve used that gag in the last ten minutes. I guess it’s just that funny.
If my review at this point starts seeming…well, episodic, it’s because we’re at the point in the film where time-wasting stuff just sort of happens until the climax of the movie arrives. So Escobar wakes up from a nap with paralyzed legs. Jensen discovers some bite marks on him, and Noboro runs off and searches out some apparently magic leaves. However, in a sequence so awkwardly constructed that you must piece together what happened from subsequent events, Noboro himself is bitten by yet another rubber snake. He returns with the leaves, which loosely wrapped around Escobar’s wounds quickly cure him. Noboro, however, is done for. Ah, the pathos.
Noboro staggers off to a nearby tree. Jensen heads over and comforts him for a bit, and then walks back by Escobar. There the two stay, perhaps fifteen feet away from the expiring Noboro. When asked what they can do, Jensen bitterly replies “We let him die and we bury him. That’s the only thing we can do for him.” And so indeed they wait – whilst sitting in the same spot back away from the guy. It’d be like if I had a friend dying in my kitchen and told him I’d be right in the living room if he needed anything.
Hacking their way – eventually — into a clearing, the two (finally) get captured by a squad of your typically well groomed, spear and bow wielding Amazons. I should note that Our Heroes don’t have any canteens, so you got me as to where they’re getting any water. The gals jog the two back to their village, which contains huts that look *ahem* rather similar to the ones in the native village earlier in the picture. And yes, the Amazons appear to jog everywhere. It’s probably how they keep their buttocks so firm and shapely. Still, you think they’d have invented themselves the sports bra by now, because a couple of them seem like they’d be in some distress.
You might be wondering whether these Amazons seem authentic. To which I must say, yes, very much so. They are all – save for their queen – between the ages of maybe eighteen and twenty-five. They are lean and tawny, have clean and styled hair, wear immaculately applied make-up, possess white, even teeth, and are dressed in what are essentially leather and fur bikinis adorned with snazzy laced leather wrist bands and other fashionable accessories. These outfits, of course, include animal-skin panties garlanded with flapping little leather skirts. Oh, and they say things like, “Your face seems good to my eye. I don’t want to hurt you.”
In the village they are brought before the queen, played by Anita Ekberg. Ms. Ekberg, rather past her prime here, has noticeably completed the transition from voluptuous to zaftig. In her hut she sits on a throne that I believe is supposedly made of gold. This is undoubtedly not much fun to sit in and must be a bitch to move when the queen gets in the mood to rearrange the furniture; which, seeing as she’s a woman, must be fairly often. Also on shelves are some poorly hewn clay statuary spray-painted gold.
The guys are brought to a bamboo cell where three other fellows, raggedly attired, are being held. They are prisoners of the Amazons kept for reproductive services, we’re told, although I imagine they’re also called upon when a pickle jar needs to be opened. One guy is supposedly German, one is a Brit who looks somewhat like Edgar Allen Poe and the last is your standard Crazy Old Coot. You know you’re in good hands when you can’t out-joke a film. When I first saw this film, I here turned to my viewing companion Andrew Muchoney and made the following gag:
Edgar Allen Poe Guy: “You will be sorry you were ever brought here. It’s a terrible fate.”
Jensen: “Oh, I don’t know, you guys look all right.”
EAP Guy, pointing to The Old Coot: “Oh, yeah? Well, he’s only thirty years old!”
OK, not A-material, but still. Yet then EAP Guy actually tells Jensen that the Old Man is in fact thirty-five! By the way, if The Old Coot looks sixty-five and is thirty-five, then the late thirty-ish looking EAP Guy must presumably be in his teens, although this isn’t addressed.
Another obvious point is that, since the film is bothering to explain how the Amazons keep the tribe going, despite them all being women and everything, perhaps they should have included some children in the village. (Although all girls, of course.) Again, though, all of the Amazons seem to fall into a pretty narrow age range, with the exception of the Queen. She gets an exemption because she’s being played by a – sorta – name actress. And while I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the severity of Amazon life kills off tribe members before they get all that old (Future Ken: Actually, strike that idea; see below), I’d still expect to see someone over the age of thirty. I mean, it looks like a jungle edition of Logan’s Run here. Also odd is that although this whole “guys kept for reproduction” thing is gone into at length, we never see any actually pregnant Amazons.
Now, there’s no use doing the “Lost Society of Beautiful Horny Women” thing if you’re not going to provide a catfight scene, so that comes next. Noting a bunch of Amazons standing in a circle around two of their number, EAP Guy explains about The Contest. The winner gets first crack at her choice of the new prisoners. Horrified that beautiful female savages are fighting over their, uh, services for the evening, Escobar gulps, “But what if we don’t feel like it?!” A knowing EAP Guy retorts that they better feel like it if they want to live. Oh, the Humanity.
Unsurprisingly, both of the contestants want Big Bo, so they proceed to the nearby river with the guys in tow. We see that The Contest will be dangerous, because they cut in stock footage of alligators. Anyhoo, the two chicks – I’m not sure why only two are in the contest, but there you go – are stranded on a raft in the middle of the (suspiciously calm) river. Armed with staffs, they begin to flail at each other in a manner not altogether suggestive of fiercely trained lifelong warriors. Then, just to remind us of the stakes, they cut to what looks to be a rubber alligator filmed at the bottom of a swimming pool in dire need of chlorine treatment.
And so the, er, struggle continues. (Movie Magic: The close-ups of fighting are filmed in a shallow river – you can often see the bottom, inches under the water. The ‘falling into the water’ bits, meanwhile, are shot in a quite evidently manufactured pond.) One woman inevitably ends up in the drink, apparently to be left to her fate via a nearby alternately stock footage/rubber alligator being towed along the waterline. However, Jensen jumps into the pond, er, river to save her. In an effort to add some suspense, they apparently tied the rubber alligator to the swimming duo, so that it would look like it was pursuing them as they swam for shore. Unfortunately, the overall effect is that it looks like someone tied a rubber alligator to two people out for a swim.
Escobar (whose ego must be smarting, as no one fought over him) is next seen with an attractive blonde who I’ll refer to as Attractive Blonde. Presumably post-coitus, they take an evening stroll around the village, and it’s obvious that in time-honored fashion they’ve Fallen in Love. Attractive Blonde explains that the first warrior to get to him the next night will gain his company for the evening, and promises that she’ll try to be first. Now, I don’t run an Amazon society, and maybe this is just my Patriarchal, rule-crazy nature coming out, but it seems to me that there’d be some sort of established rotation period in place for the men’s services, given that they’re a scarce resource. In other words, since Attractive Blonde’s now had a roll in the hay, wouldn’t somebody else get a chance?
Since the screenwriter apparently studied up on Amazons by watching Prehistoric Women and Cat-Women of the Moon – I’m assuming his copy of Bullfinch’s Mythology got mislaid – we now are treated to another of the Lost Women genre’s obligatory scenes. This is the one where The Queen thanks Jensen for saving the chick off the raft and they get into the inevitable conversation about whose society is more civilized. Then we’re all supposed to think, “Wow, that really makes you think.” And it did, although what I was thinking can’t be repeated on a family website.
Then we cut to lunch at the Queen’s hut, where apparently some of the women are serving food to Jensen and Escobar – not exactly an intuitively Amazon activity, one would think. Here we get another classic exchange. Escobar mentions the Queen’s great wealth in gold, resulting in her musing about what it all really means. “Gold,” she ponders. “Bright yellow, hard and cold. Why is everyone willing to die for it?” Which is exactly what you’d expect from someone who has gold bric-a-brac all over the place and sits in a big gold chair. Not to mention being the leader of a group that kills anyone after their stockpile of gold. Big hypocrite.
Next is the explication of how the Amazons, due to their natural way of life or some such crap, live to be well over a century in age. Also, disease is unknown to them. (More amazing is that despite this they never come to look over thirty. Except for the Queen, of course. Go figure.) Then, apparently fearing that the average viewer will now by reeling from this wide-ranging intellectual debate, we get back to the action. So to speak.
Blasko makes a return appearance in his helicopter. Somehow he found the ancient Secret Village of the Amazons, maybe because it’s a big cluster of huts out in the middle of a large clearing. He drops gas canisters that render unconscious the village’s inhabitants. This despite the valiant efforts of the warrior clan to attack his vehicle with tossed spears and coconuts (!) and whatnot. Unfortunately, this isn’t Return of the Jedi, and stone-age weaponry fails to defeat advanced technology. Perhaps if the Amazons were clumsy four-foot tall teddy bears. Anyhoo, Blasko and his inevitable two-chick entourage land and avail themselves of Jensen’s map. Then he tells the women, who are conveniently armed with ready-to-light torches (?!), to burn down the village. Why? I don’t know. I guess he’s just EEEEEE-vil!!!
Most of the tribe recovers (cue pathos over the scattered dead), although it’s noticeably the men who ended up saving everybody. Anyway, Jensen explains about Blasko, and The Queen recalls that he earlier had helped “four warriors” run off to see the outside world. I’m assuming that two of them are the tall women companions he travels with. As usual, though, this leaves some questions. First, why didn’t they script this better? A few lines of dialog would have been enough to clarify all this earlier (when we might still have been paying attention), especially as it would also explain how Blasko learned of the gold.
Also, since there were “four warriors,” I assume that the women who killed Reynolds in the beginning of film were the other two, sent by Blasko to get the map. That sort of fits in with Blasko’s later attempts on Jensen. (Although why the women he keeps with him wear modern dress while the two he theoretically sent after Reynolds were still clad in jungle outfits remains a little vague.) Also, even if these women ran off from the Amazon community, it seems a bit of a stretch that they’d so happily help destroy their former village. Couldn’t The Queen have earlier exiled them or punished them in some way, so as to provide a better motive for their actions?
Jensen gives a spiel about Equality Between the Sexes and convinces the Queen that the men and women should work together. She then reveals that she knows where the Seven Cities are. (How convenient. And how do they know which of the ‘seven’ cities Blasko will head for?) So off they jog.
Meanwhile, Blasko lands his ‘copter. His two remaining warriors remain with him, of course, dressed in cut-off shirts and Daisy Duke short-shorts. They’ve also brought their awesome array of weaponry, including his little handgun and the one woman’s single-shot scattergun. Whew, they’re loaded for bear, alright. Also, in answer to why the chicks are in his thrall, he hands them some pills (see, because he’s a drug dealer). These, he explains, will make them “infinitely mellow.” Considering that they’re bearing loaded firearms, not to mention marching off into headhunter territory, this seems far from the wisest decision. You’d think if anything you’d want them a little wired, rather than the opposite.
Jensen and the gals fight off some natives in a scene that conspicuously fails to recall the cinematic glories of Zulu. Then we cut back to Blasko and The Supremes hiking through a part of the jungle that conveniently sports a tramped-down walking path. Also along is a Superfluous Male Flunky who one suspects won’t be seeing the end of the picture. In a bit that I can only assume was meant to be comical, Blasko has SMF set up a collapsible table he was bearing and then begins to dine from a pik-a-nik basket that Brunette Sidekick Chick was toting. It’s funny because it’s a sort of effete thing for a murderous drug dealer on a dangerous jungle expedition to be doing. Get it?
Fierce Brunette Amazon Woman, the warrior who ‘won’ Jensen’s attentions in The Contest, jogs alongside Our Hero and asks if he loves her. This query might seem psychologically suspect in terms of Amazon social mores – especially after a single night o’ lovin’ — but, hey, we’re talking Bo Svenson here. Unfortunately, however, this conversational drift proves a bad choice. Bored by their cutesy-pie dialog, our eyes begin to wander around the screen, whereupon we are now likely to notice that the party is jogging down the remote jungle’s convenient asphalt walking path. (!!)
Back to Blasko and Bunch. The superfluous flunky guy decides to demand more money, with obvious results. (This is right up there with meeting a murderer in a secluded locale and then threatening them with exposure – a plot device employed on seemingly every episode of the old Barnaby Jones TV show.) Actually, Blasko offers the guy all the gold he wants when they locate the city, which seems a pretty fair deal. However, fate can’t be avoided, and the guy clumsily goes for his machete (to do what exactly?), despite the fact he’s standing directly between the two sidekick chicks. Even more clumsily, as if this were a blocking run-through prior to actually filming the scene, the women awkwardly disarm him. Yep, that Amazon training will show every time. Blasko pretends to let him go but has one of his women shoot him in the back. Because, as you might recall, he’s EEEEE-vil.
Through the miracle of matte paintings Blasko is soon stumbling across the first of the Seven Cities. Since this seems to consist of about two buildings, one must hypothesize that it was easier to be judged a ‘city’ back then. Pausing to pretend that he’s having difficulty opening the *cough, cough* massively heavy golden doors, Blasko makes his way into a temple. Inside is a display that makes us realize that a large portion of the film’s budget was allocated to purchase gold spray paint. Of course, the overall effect continues to be that we’re looking at large piles of cheap props painted to look gold, but hey, they tried. Especially notable here is the extremely poor ‘fanfare’ music, a few bars of which makes you realize why John Williams earns the money he does.
Blasko’s giggling mirth is interrupted by a voice speaking impeccable English. Turning, they espy a two-foot tall man in a feathered headpiece addressing them from the temple alter. He warns Blasko of his impending doom. “You’ve reached the end of your road, sir,” this, er, chilling visage cautions. The guardian explains that he, too, was once “normal sized,” before being shrunk by the local Indian tribe as a warning to those that follow. Unsurprisingly, Blasko fails to flee in terror. “No power on Earth can stop me now,” he exclaims. However, once he reaches for his gun spear-wielding natives appear as if by magic. The sort of magic, that is, where characters that are off-camera can’t be seen until they step into shot.
Outside the Good Guys have arrived. They also enter the Temple, now apparently empty. Here the lighting of the set is much more dramatic, with the increased wattage bouncing off the gold painted props to a more impressive effect. I’m not saying we’re buying the ‘fantastic treasure’ thing now, but it’s ten times better than our first look. Which raises the question of why they didn’t light the set this way in the first place. Well, win some, lose some.
Miniature Guy rematerializes on the altar to harangue these new interlopers. Joining him this time is a badly matted tiny bamboo cage containing wee versions of Blasko and Company. Apparently unfrightened — perhaps because a fellow who could be successfully bullied by HervÃˆ Villechaize ranks rather low on the Fearsome Apparition Scale – Jensen draws his gun and fires. The bullet smashes a plate of glass and we learn that *gasp* the whole thing was an illusion. Now, if I’m following all this, that means that they’re going to have to contend with a regularly sized guy instead of one two feet tall. I’m not sure how that improves their situation, but there you go.
Well, the other tribe swarms in — to the extent that their meager numbers allow, anyway — and a, er, pitched battle breaks out. This isn’t as lame as the melee in, say, Frankenstein Island, but I don’t think the makers of Enter The Dragon were all that concerned either. Let’s just say that if the Skeleton Men had shown up and a watermelon fight ensued I wouldn’t have been much surprised. Nor is this choreographed any better than the rest of the picture. My favorite bit is where Svenson is supposed to flip forward a native hanging on his back, and in doing so accidentally wallops a stuntwoman playing one of the Amazons.
The fight heads back outside, for no real apparent reason, and a couple of casualties occur for pathos’ sake. Still, the guy natives are quickly routed. Then, all of a sudden, we cut to Escobar off in the nearby woods, sitting on the full-sized version of the Miniature Guy. The latter is spouting off about how he’s already dead and so can’t be killed, and it’s all very confusing, as if the movie ran over the allotted running time and they just randomly clipped some stuff out. Escobar lets him go, despite the fact that the guy threatens to show up and kill him some day. Frankly, I’d just shoot him.
Jensen, meanwhile, finds the cage holding Blasko and his ladies. Blasko *cough, cough* comically tries to charm his way out of this mess. Moreover, he promises, they can be partners. “I have excellent contacts,” Blasko explains, “in the world underground gold marketing business.” Or, as aficionados know it, the WUGMB. Needless to say, Jensen ignores him. Then Escobar pops up and explains in a rather perfunctory fashion that Pseudo-Miniature Guy was, in fact, the missing son of Frederick Reynolds. Life’s a rich tapestry, isn’t it?
The film ends with Our Characters all marching through a modern (presumably) South American town. Seemingly thousands of real-life locals, used as extras, look on in amusement and/or bewilderment as this spear-wielding parade of Gringo chicks in skin bikinis marches down Main Street. They also tend to stare at the camera as it moves past, thus violating The Forth Wall and endangering the rigorously maintained suspension of disbelief that has kept us in riveted suspense throughout the movie. Still, at least there’s more tuba music.
Blasko is delivered to the local cops, indicating that perhaps the film’s screenwriter has an inadequate understanding of how Law Enforcement south of the border usually works. Yeah, he’s sure to face harsh justice now. Actually, if you think about it, all Blasko’s arrest will mean is that zillions of people will learn about the Seven Cities of Gold, which, we’ve been told, lie only about sixty miles from this town. Frankly, I really don’t want to think about how many deaths are likely to result from this, much less the effect on the world economy when a zillion tons of gold is rapidly dumped on the market.
At the airfield, Our Heroes part with much sadness from their lady loves, who I think they’ve now known for like two or three days. Ah, but they’ll always have Paris. Meanwhile, the other Amazons are boarding a bus (?!), all like ten of them. This renders the Queen’s statement that “Amazons will be here long after all others are gone” somewhat suspect. (Especially if the bus crashes.) Besides, now that the outside world knows of their existence, aren’t they likely to be hounded into oblivion by anthropologists? Not to mention the aforementioned treasure hunters. Also, we know that four of their number had earlier run off with Blasko – Blasko! — to see the world. Considering that this represented about fifteen percent of the entire Amazon population right there…
The film ends with Escobar wondering if anyone back at the club will believe their yarn. Apparently the idea is that the whole Lost Tribe of Amazons and Seven Cities of Gold thing will remain, at best, a local story. Following a similar line of thought, Jensen replies that he intends to tell no one of their adventures. Meanwhile, they will use the money they get from the gold they stole, er, took along (so the only difference between them and Blasko is scale of theft, I suppose) to engage in further adventures. Sadly, we can only assume that the ratings for this film didn’t justify a Gold of the Amazon Women II.
- Fun Facts: The word ‘credo’ is apparently pronounced cray-do.
- Do you ever hear a line of dialog that just seems wrong somehow? Here Jensen tells Escobar that he’s “read too many Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan novels.” Now, I can see saying “Edgar Rice Burroughs novels,” and I can see using “Tarzan novels.” But using both seems weird. (Of course, this is the same character who asked his companions to “keep my coffee warm.”) Presumably the scriptwriter wanted to show off the fact that he knew who wrote the Tarzan books, even if it made the line clunky.
- How many movie victims would have been spared if they hadn’t suffered from the dreaded NPVS – No Peripheral Vision Syndrome?
- I must have missed the credit noting “Fight Noises Courtesy of Hanna-Barbera.”
- “Bring us a bottle of 1931 Port”? What the hell kind of wine order is that? Isn’t that like asking for a bottle of your best 2001 Soft Drink?
- Wouldn’t the dining room at an exclusive club be the sort of place with a regular and quite limited wait staff? I just found it strange that Assassin Guy could walk around in a waiter’s outfit without drawing attention. Also, he mugged the first guy who entered the wine room. So why would that necessarily be the waiter for Jensen’s table?
- Great Comic Bon Mots to Remember: “The last time I saw an Amazon was in a gay rights parade on 5th Avenue!”
- When you slip a guy poison, don’t casually walk away so as to avoid suspicion. Instead, stand next to him until he falls over dead and then suddenly run away at full tilt. It’s also helpful if you can careen into other people as you flee.
- Why I Love Crystal Clear Slo-Mo on My DVD Player: When Assassin Guy runs into a waiter bearing a tray of wine glasses, they foley in the sound of glass breaking as the goblets supposedly shatter. In slo-mo, however, you can see that the ‘glasses’ are made of plastic and are bouncing around unbroken.
- Fun Facts: During a dramatic foot chase, it’s best not to run in a manner reminiscent of Pee Wee Herman.
- Here’s my newly formulated Hero’s Foot Chase Exemption: If during the course of a foot chase the hero is hit by a car, he’ll sustain little injury but the bad guy will escape. If the bad guy is hit, however, he’ll invariably die before he can give the hero any information.
- Fun Facts: South American drug lords are often small, portly Englishmen whose entire organization consists of two statuesque women and the occasional inept and quickly deceased male flunky.
- Fun Facts: Bo Svenson’s hair gets all frizzy in tropical clime.
- Fun Facts: In South America, a black priest who speaks with a pronounced British accent will call a tall, blond American “Senor” and say ‘si’ instead of ‘yes,’ but will otherwise speak entirely in English.
- Uh, can you really have “maps of unexplored territory”?
- That is, without doubt, the fakest-looking snake attack scene I’ve ever witnessed. Kudos, my friends, kudos.
- Which occurs, by the way, about twenty minutes into the film. It’s all downhill from here, folks.
- I like how the heroes run out of the sightline of those shooting at them, get to their car, and then decide to drive back and past the still-firing villains to make their escape.
- I know Escobar’s supposed to be a novice. Still, I’m no explorer either, and I know not to enter a village containing dozens of spear-wielding natives while waving my gun around. Especially not without checking with my more experienced companion first.
- Given the uniform, blue-flamed fires under those pots, I can only assume that these primitive natives have natural gas lines running under their huts.
- Fun Facts: The favorite fighting techniques of South American jungle Indians include the uppercut, the left jab and the roundhouse punch.
- Fun Facts: Fistfights between a White Man and a Native Warrior shouldn’t be scored with smooth Jazz music.
- I will never forget the chilling scene where Jensen and Escobar perform a jocular roundelay of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.”
- Fun Facts: In a jungle-exploring party consisting of a native hunter and two white men, one of whom has never been out of New York City, it’s the native who will fall prey to the local fauna.
- Forgive my cynicism, but I don’t think those monkeys are actually in this movie.
- Fun Facts: Having lots and lots of sex with beautiful Amazons will cause you to age twice as quickly.
- Fun Facts: Even so, it’s hard to feel sorry for guys whose fate is to be over-sexed to death by beautiful Amazons.
- Upon meeting the other men prisoners, Jensen has a conversation in German with the German Guy. This fellow begins to aim invective at Edgar Allen Poe Guy, and the latter asks what he was saying. Jensen explains that he was complaining that EAP Guy had never tried to escape in the six years that he was a prisoner. At this I wondered why German Guy himself had never tried to escape, or why EAP Guy would spend six years in a cage with the guy without learning any German. So I just figured that German Guy was a new arrival who only learned the length of EAP Guy’s imprisonment. However, then EAP Guy explains that he was a pilot captured when his plane went down, and that German Guy was his co-pilot!! Meaning that not only did you have a pilot and co-pilot who didn’t speak the same language, but that after six years of captivity together they still speak in two different languages!!
- The favored hand-to-hand combat technique of the Amazon warrior is the Roundhouse Punch.
- When one woman during The Contest falls into the water to be threatened by a rubber alligator, the rest of the tribe looks shocked and concerned. Isn’t that the whole point, though, of fighting on a raft over alligator-full waters? I’m confused.
- If you had bet a dollar that someone here would use the phrase “big silver bird” to describe an airplane, step up to the pay window.
- Escobar might be the nerdy sidekick, but after Blasko’s gas attack he’s smart enough to grab the unconscious Amazon wearing an animal-skin thong.
- Frankly, although Amazon societies tend to be pretty unpleasantly sexist, worse yet is seeing them get a gender sensitivity lecture from Bo Svenson.
- How bad do people want to be in show business? Check out the woman in the leather bikini who probably spent an entire morning or more lying still on the ground, pretending to be a dead body as the heroes converse in the foreground. She probably only got extra pay, to boot. This also might well represent the most screentime she ever got in her thespian career.
- You’re running through the jungle all day, hoping to intercept an armed party of murderous interlopers. Loping along, you see their helicopter nearby, parked out in a clearing. Do you:
a) Check it for weapons, or water, or food, or a radio, or any other useful equipment?
b) Sabotage it, so that your enemies’ means of escape is cut off?
c) Note it with mild interest and continue jogging past?
- Fun Facts: Upon finding a parked helicopter in a clearing, spear-wielding members of a tribe of primitive headhunting natives in the deepest wilds of South America will figure out how the door latches work in about two seconds.
- I know we’re supposed to be considering the irony of gender role reversal when Attractive Blonde tells Escobar that “Men made for to look at, women for work.” But frankly, I think you go, girl! Right on!!
- Again…Amazons with raised consciousnesses. Ugh!
- Night! Day! Night! Day! Night! Day! (And so on and so on.)
- Fun Facts: At twenty or thirty yards, it’s easier to hit targets with a snub-nosed revolver than with long bows.
- Movie Magic: To save money during a battle sequence, reuse the same footage of a running guy getting shot. The first time, print the shot and blow it up into a medium shot, even if this makes the image noticeably grainy. Then wait a minute and use the same footage again, this time properly printing it as a far shot and cutting away right before the fellow takes a bullet. Then hope no one watching the movie notices the identifiable trees he’s running past. (See also the car chase in The Thing With Two Heads, where they film the same police car crashing from about six different angles and then try to pretend it represents six different car crashes.)
- You have to hand it to Pleasence; he really knows how to slice the ham. After having a blackmailing employee killed, his character quips “Money really is the root of all evil.” Apparently hoping to lend the (admittedly flaccid) jibe some juice, Pleasence delivers it with the sort of tight grin that Bob Hope always threw at the camera after offering a punch line. I half expected him to follow up with “And how about those Amazons? They’re wild, aren’t they?”
- Day! Night! Day!
- As an accurate boaster, Blasko ranks right down there with the architect of the Titanic, who famously bragged that not even God could sink his ship. As history has shown, God could, and without really all that much effort. I mean, it’s not like He had to fling the Earth into the Sun or anything. A simple hunk of ice more than sufficed. Similarly, Blasko preens upon finding the gold that “No power on Earth can stop me now,” before being captured by a dozen or so savages armed with blow-guns and such. Amongst the various “power[s] on Earth,” such a group would seemingly rank fairly low. Considering that Blasko’s assertion would appear to cover, say, the assembled firepower of America’s fleet of nuclear submarines, a small cohort of folks armed with spears seems rather modest.
- “Uh, Oh, Chon-go!!”
- Fun Fact: When you’re about a mile up in a small plane you can wave at people on the ground and they will see you. (See also Megaforce.)
- Fun Credits: The “Amazon Warriors” were played by a number of listed individuals, “and The Julie Edwards Dancers”.
I want to take a moment to salute Bo Svenson. While not quite as lifeless as he would be in the later Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, Svenson’s visible disgust with the crap he’s stuck in is all too apparent. In reaction he appears to have abandoned trying to act altogether. As a substitute he mugs in an exaggerated manner seemingly intended to signal his disenchantment to the audience. As his career continued to deteriorate, Svenson all but became the poster child for Phoning It In.
On the other hand, you have to admire the Old Pro attitude that Donald Pleasence brings to the picture. After all, Pleasence had a much bigger career than Svenson ever did, and thus had fallen (and was to fall) even farther than his co-star. Admittedly, Svenson starred in more projects, but they were typically exploitation flicks like Walking Tall Part II. Pleasence, meanwhile, had been prominently featured in actual films like The Great Escape and, uh, Fantastic Voyage, and er, OK, well maybe not that many actual films. But hey, there’s always Halloween.
Even so, Pleasence gives his role here the old college try. In the scene where he enters the temple of gold, he actually tries to act like a greedy guy finding himself in possession of more wealth than he ever imagined. I’m not saying that his acting in this scene is persuasive, but it certainly is enthusiastic. I was honestly surprised that he would still be exerting so much effort to create an actual, you know, performance in a film like this. Still, that’s what marks Pleasence as the kind of actor he was. While I admire Svenson’s cynicism, I respect Pleasence’s dogged professionalism even more.
Director Mark Lester also had a notable career, of sorts. Before shooting this, for example, he directed the infamous Roller Boogie, a film I really must see one of these days. He also made Truck Stop Women with B-movie goddess Claudia Jennings, as well as Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw. In this latter film Lynda Carter removed her shirt, resulting in a thousand screencaps spread across the Web. After Gold of the Amazon Women, things briefly got somewhat better for him. He directed the cheesy but fun Class of 1984, as well as his most prominent movie, Commando, with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then it was back downhill, with only Class of 1999, a retread of one of his earlier films, of any note. (Although he did direct Brandon Lee in one of his few films before the latter died while filming The Crow.)
Summation: Amusing crap for lovers of Amazon movies and embarrassed actors.