Sunday, November 2, 2008

Golden Temple Amazons (1986)

(aka: Les Amazones Du Temple D'Or/Amazons in the Temple of Gold)

Sixteen years after the vicious slaughter of her parents at the hands of an Amazonian tribe, the young jungle girl Liana sets out to avenge their deaths. After joining forces with an archaeological expedition searching for the tribe's secret golden temple, the group discover that the Amazons, led by the sinister and sadistic duo of Uruck and Rena, will protect the temple from intruders at all costs. First things first. As most genre fans know, Golden Temple Amazons isn't actually a Jess Franco film. According to most sources, Franco merely did some of the second-unit work and possibly supplied additional footage from an earlier film of his as padding. The director for the film was Alain Payet (HellTrain, directed many porn films under the name John Love). Produced by France's Marius and Daniel Lesseur from Eurocine, the film is yet another female Tarzan/Liane, The Jungle Goddess rip-off. Again, it seems I'm all alone on this one. But, dang it, I love jungle girl movies. I've yet to talk to a single soul who really enjoyed this movie. To be fair... It is pretty bad.

Though set in the Amazonian jungle, the movie was actually shot at an animal park in southern Spain (the same location used for Diamonds Of Kilimandjaro ). After young Liana's gold-thieving parents get arrowed down by the Amazons, she grows up in the jungle, raised by area tribesmen and all the cuddly little jungle critters. The film starts out with the adult Liana (Analía Ivars -Vampire Blues, Tender Flesh) running and swinging through the jungle (topless, of course) searching for her chimp pal Rocky. She rides an elephant for a while, and is eventually summoned back to the abandoned mission where her drunkard father and mother were slain by another missionary priest (Olivier Mathot -Diamonds Of Kilimandjaro) who had been a friend of the family's years ago. The priest sits down with Liana (not in the least bit put-off by her nakedness) and reads her her father's diary. When Liana learns that the Amazons were responsible for shooting down her father and mother, she sets out to avenge them and promptly teams up with an oddball tribal witch-doctor named Koukou (Stanley Kapoul -Maniac Killer), who looks and acts a lot like Tor Johnson of Ed Wood fame. Not long after, Liana and her new sidekick meet up with an archaeologist, his wife, and a partner who have heard about the legendary Golden Temple in the mysterious Blue Mountains. Liana agrees to guide them, and the five head off. Before they can find the Amazons and their Temple however, the Amazons find and capture them when each come in range of a mysterious mist-like gas issuing from the entrance of a cave, rendering them unconscious. Uruck (William Berger -Love Letters From A Portuguese Nun, Five Dolls For An August Moon), the "Lord" of the Amazons, orders Rena (Eva León -Blue Eyes Of The Broken Doll ) his right-hand, eye-patch wearing Amazon bi-atch, to imprison and torture everyone but Liana, whom he has taken a fancy with and intends on using for "breeding" (I guess when you're the only guy in a tribe full of Amazons for all those years, after a while it gets kind of "iffy" as far as inbreeding with one of your daughters). It falls in the hands of Liana and her pet chimp Rocky to save the trio of incompetent men and one woman serving as her traveling companions.

I've read and heard a lot of fans criticize this movie for it's laughable voice-dubbing, silly script and dialogue, cheap hoaky sets, and poor continuity. True, we have savage Amazon jungle chicks wearing make-up and sporting perms or long blond wigs riding horses decked out with metal bits and decorated Western-style harnesses. And a young Tarzan girl supposedly raised by tribesmen and jungle animals who speaks English as well as any Grammar teacher. Not to mention a dumpy and grizzled old man ruling over all those beautiful nubile topless Amazons babes (who ever heard of a man ruling over a tribe of Amazon warriors, anyway?). And where did he come up with all the fancy modern furniture and polished marble inlay floors adorning his abode? Still, these are inconsistencies and Faux Pas I can overlook and live with. This is "entertainment" we're talking about here, after all, not a historical documentary. A little creative license and inexactitude should be expected.

Being of shallow mind, there are things that irritated me more than those mentioned above: the incessant babblings of Koukou, "Kuckoo kill evil, Kuckoo kill evil!", and some of the casting choices. Not to be mean, but a few of the Amazons were pretty skanky looking. Again, to be fair, because several of the "actresses" would be required to ride horses, many were picked out of a local riding school, which might explain why some of the Amazons were topless and others wore black slingshot bikini tops. And though she is no Sabrina Siani or Katja Bienert, Analía Ivars is cute enough, despite the curly '80's hairdo, and is fun to watch jogging and swinging around the jungle with nothing on but a few flapping fox tails and a leopard skin loin cloth. Alicia Príncipe (Night Of 1,000 Sexes, The Sexual Story of O) plays the part of Bella, the archeologist's wife, and has a nice scene where she goes for a skinny-dip, gets chased out of the water by a hippo, then decides to go exploring a cave (Note I said nothing about "after" putting her clothes back on). Eye patch wearing Eva León was pretty easy-on-the-eyes back in the early '70's when she was still in her early twenties, but here she is just shy of forty (and looks older), though I seriously doubt her breasts were that old.

Those of you hoping for some cannibalism and gore will be sorely disappointed. The only "real" violence (there are a couple of fight sequences, but they are so staged and hoaky they are hilarious) we see is when Liana's parents get speared and when one of the Amazonian guards locks onto the archeologist's manbits with a huge set of prongs and gives them a twist or two. Ouch! The Spanish park where Golden Temple Amazons was shot looks beautiful, with towering waterfalls, lush dense foliage, rocky cliffs, distant mountains and loads of cuddly exotic animals...elephants, hippopotamus, giraffes, tigers and chimpanzees...which Payet takes every opportunity to film. It is, by most accounts, a pretty tame film. In Shriek Show's DVD extras interview, Daniel Lesseur even claims that by today's standards, Golden Temple Amazons could pass as a family film. Uh... Perhaps in Europe, where folks aren't so uptight about naked boobies.

Other notables in the cast include: Antonio Mayans (Sadomania, Zombie Lake), Françoise Blanchard ( Living Dead Girl), Emilio Linder (Monster Dog), and Jean-René Gossart (Killing Car). Lina Romay and Alice Arno are sometimes credited for cameo appearances, but as far as I know, this is a mistake. If you've never seen Golden Temple Amazons, I wouldn't let reviewers and critics out there sway you from giving it a looksy. If you are like me, you can overlook the faults and sloppiness of the filmmakers as well as the low budget and still enjoy. Think of it this way... If nothing else, you'll get to see a bunch of girls riding horses bareback.

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