Friday, May 11, 2012

Golden Temple Amazons (Jess Franco, 1986)

When your only friends growing up are a giraffe, a herd of elephants, a smattering of lions, and a chimp named Rocky, your sense of right and wrong is bound to be somewhat off-kilter compared to the rest of humanity. How else can you explain the kooky positions held by the shapely protagonist in Golden Temple Amazons (a.k.a. Amazons in the Temple of Gold), a Jess Franco jungle adventure film produced by the fine folks at Eurociné. Let's say you're little white girl growing up in the jungles of Africa, and your father steels some gold from a mysterious tribe of all-white Amazonian women. And let's say they track said loved one down to his hubristic den of colonial vulgarity, and kill your gold-stealing father and your mother with poison arrows. Do you: A) Swear to revenge their deaths; B) Shrug your shoulders and do nothing; or C) Thank the scantily clad white women for ridding the world of another pair of drunken prats, and ask them to join their tribe. While most normal people, myself included, would have chosen the third option without hesitation, Liana (Analía Ivars) decides that she wants to avenge their deaths at the hands of a tribe of gorgeous warrior women; a tribe who seem to have an affinity for riding horses without the aide of tops. I'll forgive Liana for desiring vengeance when she was an irrational little girl, but the fact that her thirst for violent retribution continued fester as a smoking hot adult didn't make a whole lot of sense. You would have thought she would have figured out that her parents were dicks by the time her cantaloupes had begun to sprout nipples. But what about Liana's mother? Surely she didn't deserve to be shot into her chest with a poison arrow. It's true, technically her mom didn't steal the gold, but she did shelter her husband, and, on top of that, she seemed complacent over the fact that he stole it.
A veiled attempt to shine a fair amount of murky light on the ills of imperialism, yet, at the same time, create a fluffy piece of family-friendly entertainment, Golden Temple Amazons is here to enlighten and amuse in equal measure. Hey, wait a minute. Aren't there a lot of naked women parading around with their breasts exposed in this movie? I mean, that doesn't exactly sound "family-friendly," if you ask me? Well, if it wasn't for breasts, there would be no families. Think about that the next time you're about to get into a tizzy after you find out that your eight year-old son accidentally catches a glimpse an unclothed tittie. Speaking of eight year-olds, I would totally let little kids watch this movie, lax nipple coverage be damned. Be damned, I say. 
The first thing we hear right out the gate is the music of Norbert Verrone, a man who clearly knows a thing or two about programming a drum machine (I liked how his drum machine sounded ethnic at times, if you know what I mean). But if that wasn't enough, Golden Temple Amazons provides moving pictures to go along with the film's audio output. Yeah, that's right. The film utilizes the visual and the audio end of the sensory spectrum simultaneously. Now, you would think, judging by my description, that Golden Temple Amazons contains all the necessary properties that go into making a well-rounded piece of filmed entertainment. Frankly, that's not the case at all. In fact, to call Golden Temple Amazons merely a "film" is an insult to cinema. No, what we're dealing with here is a life-affirming work of staggering artistic importance, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise, ain't hooked up right.
How else would you describe a film that opens with topless women, women in tops, and women who were wearing tops but still managed to be topless riding horses in slow motion to synth-rock? Lead by Françoise Blanchard, the women are part of a tribe of ancient Amazonian warriors who live in a mysterious region of Africa known as the Blue Mountains, and are clearly annoyed by the actions of one Mr. Simpson (Jean-René Gossart) a greedy, bald missionary. How could you tell they were annoyed with him? Well, for one thing, they shoot a poison arrow through his heart, killing him instantly (his wife is killed in a similar fashion as a kind of afterthought). After the warrior women ride off, a little girl wanders over to where the dead couple lay and proceeds to shout out the words, "Mommy" and "Daddy," in that order. Aww, poor thing, I thought to myself as she wept over their khaki-adorned bodies, who's gonna fill her head with nonsensical gibberish now? I mean, forming an unhealthy prejudice towards Swedish people isn't going to manifest itself.
Flash-forward, oh, let's say, fifteen years, and that little girl is all grown up and wearing leopard print panties and, yeah, nothing much else. It turns out her name is  Liana (Analía Ivars) and she is indifferent to Swedes. Truth be told, I don't even think she knows what a Swede is. Nope, her world mainly involves playing with her animal friends and keeping her hair looking soft and manageable. We meet her as she's looking for a chimp named Rocky, a mischievous ape who likes to climb palm trees and to throw his own feces.
The past comes back to haunt Liana when a friend of her dead father comes to visit. Reading from her father's diary, the man (Olivier Mathot) tells Liana the story of her father's final days. Oh, and the reason Liana never bothered to read the diary herself (which has been lying around for the past fifteen years) is because she can't read; the manner in which the visitor points out Liana's illiteracy made him come across like a real asshole. We learn that Liana's father stumbled across the Amazons secret mountain kingdom while hunting, and decided to straight-up steal some of their gold. To make things worse, he even brags to his wife that he plans on stealing more of their gold at a later date. As you would expect, The Great Urock (William Berger), the leader of Amazonians, sends a couple of emissaries wearing brown dishrags held together with string to ask for the gold back. And, well, you know what happens next, he basically tells them to piss off, so they come back wielding bows and arrows dipped in poison. 
I won't lie, I disliked Liana's parents immensely (the worst kind of greedy, racist missionary scum), so to hear Liana declare that she intends on avenging their deaths was a tad disheartening. Mostly because I like Liana (the bottoms of her feet are always dirty and she wears three fox tails as a top), and I hate to see someone so full of life squander their vengeance on such a shitty cause.

Meanwhile, Batu is wandering near a cave. Suddenly, a strange mist emerges from the rock, knocking the tribesmen out cold almost immediately. I wonder what that was all about?!? I'm sure it'll pay off later on in the film. Anyway, getting back to Liana's adventure. She's captured by a group of tribesmen only five minutes into her mission. But don't worry, the leader of the tribesmen, Chief Mabutu, tells her that he did it her for her own good. You see, he doesn't want her to go to the Blue Mountains to seek out the Amazonians who killed her parents, as he thinks it's too dangerous. Making a convincing argument as to why she must go, Mabutu gives her his blessing, but only if she takes along Koukou (Stanley Kapoul), a heavy set medicine man who insists on calling Liana "stupid girl."
You could tell just by looking at him that the character of Koukou was added to the cast strictly to provide comic relief. And while I generally agree with this assessment, to be honest, I was way too busy admiring Analía Ivars' first-rate side-boobage to notice if he was being funny or not. If Koukou sad that I was unable to notice if Koukou was being funny or not. I'm sorry, Koukou. But Koukou will just have to except the fact Analía's boobies will always trump Koukou's comedic prowess whenever Analía's boobies are the focal point any scene involving Liana and Koukou. It's doesn't matter what angle they're viewed from, her salient boobies are too far-reaching to ignore. 
Judging by the way Liana and Koukou were carrying on in the early going, you wouldn't think they were bent on revenge. Playfully swinging on vines, gawking at hippos, and eating various hand fruits, vengeance seems like the furthest thing from their minds. After hearing something off in the distance, Liana decides to investigate. If there's one thing Liana isn't good at, it's sneaking up on people. Already bested by Mabutu's tribesmen, Liana finds herself in a similar situation when the men working for an archaeologist named Johnson (Emilio Linder) stick a bunch of rifles in her face. Luckily for her, Koukou scares them off with some pouch-based tomfoolery (he basically scares them off with fireworks). Unfortunately, though, that leaves Johnson, Bella (Alicia Príncipe), his small-nippled ladyfriend, and their bearded guide Bud (Antonio Mayans) without anyone to carry their gear. Don't worry, it so happens that both parties are going to Blue Mountains, and decide to team up when Bud declares Liana to be "all right."
You bet he declares her to be "all right," Analía Ivars is bumpy and smooth in all the right places. Yet, despite the fact they make goo goo eyes with one another when they meet, their relationship does get off to a rocky start. The subject of contention is the role of women in the workplace. Just kidding. But seriously, Liana thinks Bud is a sexiest pig. As they're pretending not to like each other, Bella and her glass-cutter nipples decide to go for a swim. Of course, she ends up wandering into the same cave that caused Batu to lose consciousness (I knew that earlier scene with Batu would eventually pay off). It's only a matter of time before Liana, Koukou, Bud and Johnson stumble upon the very same cave and become the unwitting victims of the Amazons of the Temple of Gold.

Up until now, the Amazons have been nothing but a handful of extras sporting blonde wigs, but that changes when we meet Rena (Eva León), the captain of the Amazon honour guard. (Think: Molotov Cocktease meets Frigga from Thriller - A Cruel Picture). The scene where she's introduced is probably the film's most memorable; and yes, even more so than the slow-motion jiggling of the film's opening scene. The sight of her standing there with all her guards oozed just the right amount of camp, as the eye-patch, the spiky thing she wore on her pinky finger, and the close-up shot of her golden thong (thank you, Jess Franco) all sent me into a minor frenzy.
While Liana and company, who have been reunited with Bella, wake up in an underground chasm, and busy themselves by exploring tunnels and fighting bats (a frazzled Koukou says there are "hundreds of them," but Koukou must not be able to count, 'cause I saw no more than four), Rena is trying to persuade The Great Urock, the leader of the Amazons (someone get this guy a nose hair trimmer), to not let Liana join their female cult. (What kind of female cult has a man as its leader? This one, obviously.)
As you might expect, Rena is threatened by Liana, and doesn't want her ruining the cushy position she has within the Amazonian hierarchy. And with good reason, not only is Liana gorgeous, she's scrappy; and I don't mean the kind of scrappy you can get down at the dollar store, I'm talking raised in the jungle by wild animals scrappy. Sure, she doesn't know how to sneak up on people (all her attempts to be sneaky in this film end in failure) and she might not be able to read (jungle women and book learning are a lethal combination). But when it comes to one-on-one confrontations, Liana will straight-up kick your ass into next Tuesday, or Wednesday, or maybe, if you really piss her off, next Thursday,  Either way, when the dust settles, you'll be in a completely different realm after Liana is done with you.  
You think I'm joking? Just ask Rena and Koukou, as they both end up on the receiving end of a Liana sponsored beat down. I'll admit, I was rooting for Rena during her epic confrontation with Liana (the sight of Eva León's golden thong pressing tightly against her moist undercarriage as she fought was glorious). My chief concern was that Rena would get demoted as a result of losing to Liana, and if there's one thing I can't stand, it's a woman with an eye-patch whose career path is covered with roadblocks.
In reality, the opposite occurs, as Rena briefly finds herself in a position of great power thanks to Liana's no-nonsense stance against rape. Of course, the key word there is "briefly," as Rena squanders her power. Her obsession with torture causes her to not notice that her kingdom has been infiltrated by a chimp named Rocky. I know what you're thinking, he's just a chimp. Oh, but Rocky isn't your average chimp. Even Koukou winds up singing Rocky's praises ("Monkey free everybody!") when all is said and done. Not embarrassed in the slightest that they were rescued by a chimpanzee, Liana and friends seem glad to be free. I only wish I could say the same for the Amazonian warrior who looked exactly like Jenny Slate in a blonde wig, as she appeared sad. And you know what they say? Whenever a Jenny Slate look-alike in a blonde wig is sad, the world is sad, too. Hey, she should have thought of that before she joined an all-female cult run by a man (ninety-five percent of male run all-female cults fail with the first three months of operation). Oh, and if anyone knows where Lina Romay cameo is in this film, please let me know.

published by adultswim


  1. The female body is an object of staggering artistic importance in and of itself.