Sunday, September 23, 2012

Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story (Mario Gariazzo, 1985)

Is it possible to love someone who not only killed your parents, but is holding you captive somewhere in the middle of Amazon jungle? What are you talking about? Of course it's possible, the power of love is no match for petty revenge. Yeah, but he chopped their heads off...with her Daddy's hunting knife. Um, hello? He's a headhunter. That's what he does. He finds heads that he likes and then he forcibly removes them. End of story. Oh, and if you can think of better way to separate a head from a body, let me know. Until then, their heads must be lopped off by using a sharp cutting tool (preferably an axe or a large hunting knife). Posing the age old question: If you thought you saw a hunky Amazonian tribesmen cutting off the heads of your happy-go-lucky parents as they lay on the deck of their pimp-as-ground-chuck house boat covered in blowgun darts, would it be wrong to assume that the very same hunky Amazonian tribesmen killed them as well? The surprisingly romantic Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story (a.k.a. White Slave) is filled with question like this, as it stimulates the mind, and, at the same time, gently perforates the genitals. It also messes with your stomach. The film, directed by Mario Gariazzo, is replete with gory images. In other words, jaguars eating monkeys, ants devouring faces, and, of course, heads being chopped off are only a mere pittance of the ghastliness on display in this apparently true story. However, the film's shocking content, while prevalent from start to finish, eventually takes a backseat to the unexpected love story that develops the longer our blonde protagonist spends immersed in this clothes optional society located deep inside the Amazon rainforest. Actually, part of me likes to think it was love at first sight between the leggy white woman who holds grudges and the handsome headhunter with the black pageboy haircut. Sure, the circumstances of their meeting were a little on the dicey side (the decapitation of loved ones has a tendency to do that), but I like to believe that the human heart (and when I say "human heart," I mean the chemicals in the brain that cause people to go ga-ga from one another) isn't swayed by things as trivial as race, culture, or the abundance of parental arterial spray.
Presented as a kind of pseudo-documentary, complete with a narrator and "found footage," Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story opens in London, England, where we find Catherine Miles (Elvire Audray), Catherine Miles Armstrong, to be exact, about to be interviewed about the events that took place while traveling along the Amazon river with her parents abroad their swanky house boat.
The film, like I said, opens in London, England, but story begins in London, England. Wait, that doesn't make sense. Okay, let me put it this way: The film starts by showing the media shy Catherine talking to a reporter in London, England, and when she begins to tell him her amazing story, it actually begins in an Amazonian courtroom, where we see a Catherine on trial for a double homicide, but her testimony starts in London, England. And that's where we first meet the pre-Amazon Catherine, a wide-eyed eighteen year-old who is all excited about the prospect of spending the summer on the Amazon river with her parents, who run a rubber plantation.
Arriving in the Amazon on her birthday, Catherine's parents throw her a party. And then, the following morning, they head out on their house boat. Traveling up river, Catherine, who is wearing dark green shorts, strappy brown sandals, and a white shirt, is given some fatherly advice ("enjoy life"), and she returns the favour by sitting cross-legged in the most leggy manner possible.
You'll be hard pressed, depending on the length and girth of your penis, to find a more monumental leg cross implemented aboard a house boat, or any other kind of pleasure craft, for that matter.
Of course, I'm not implying that her dad would ever look at his daughter in that fashion. But c'mon, look at those things. What I'm saying is, he must feel at least a sense of pride over the fact that his sperm had a hand in creating the greatest pair of legs the Amazon river basin has ever seen.
Either way, he better start appreciating his daughter's long gams, and quickly, because he doesn't much time left. Oh, and, hey, mom, you better take one last gander at her stems as well, as your time is running out, too. Suddenly, the serenity of the house boat is broken by a barrage of blowgun darts followed by the sound of blood curdling screams. Paralyzed with fear, Catherine can only watch as her mom is struck in the eye and chest, and her father is hit in the neck. When she wakes up (she was hit in the arm by a blowgun dart dipped in poison), Catherine is shocked to discover that her parent's boat is filled with scantily clad natives.
While most of them are busy messing around with the house boat's modern day accoutrements and cutting her parents' heads off, Umukai (Will Gonzales) is doing what her mom and dad should have been doing, and that is, scoping out her lengthy legs with a glaze-worthy gaze. After he's finished molesting her with his eyes, he removes the poison from her arm (sucks it out like a pro), and proceeds to pick her up.
Grabbing her parent's heads as trophies, her dad's hunting knife, and tying Catherine to a stick like a wild animal, the natives, or "savages" as one of the attorneys at her trial calls them, begin to make the long march back to their village. Despite watching Umukai eat black tree slugs, having her cross necklace stolen (it was a birthday gift), surviving an attack by the "ghosts" (a rival tribe of cannibals who ambush Umukai's Guarani warriors along the way), and having to look at her parent's severed heads dangling from a rod for the entire trip, Catherine somehow manages to maintain her composure and her legginess.
It's not a question of will they force Catherine Miles Armstrong to remove dark green shorts, but more a question of when. And looks like I'm about to find out. In case you were wondering, my greatest concern surrounding the removal of Catherine's shorts mostly centres around how it will effect the overall appearance of her legs. Let's be honest, the shorts have been, so far, doing an amazing job of accentuating their exquisite length.
The moment of truth, however, comes when Catherine is brought into the village, and is looked over by the chief. Curious by the sight of this woman with corn-coloured hair, the chief likes what he sees, but is not down with the way she smells, and instructs the women to give her tribal bath. When the bathing ritual is complete, Catherine emerges from the bathing hut, naked as a jaybird, appearing even leggier than she was before; which, I'll admit, and is something I didn't think was physically possible.
Standing naked before the village, Catherine is auctioned off to the highest bidder. But instead of money, they pay using livestock. The tribesmen with the most stuff is able to purchase Catherine for a hefty price (he had to give up one of his turtles), but Umukai decides that he wants her, and offers to give the buyer his knife, Catherine's necklace and a spear. But he refuses. Frustrated that Catherine's smooth stems are slowly slipping away from him, Umukai challenges him to a fight. No dice. As Catherine is about to be raped by her "owner," he quickly discovers that she is still a virgin. Which means he can't rape her until she is ritually deflowered by...the woman whose job it is to deflower virgins. Duh.
Using the tribe's no raping virgins clause to her advantage, Catherine makes a run for it. Unfortunately, she has no idea where she's going, and is eventually caught. As she was running, I couldn't help but notice that on top of having ideal legs for running, Elvire Audray has perfect tits for running as well; in that, they don't slow her down with their constant jiggling. It's during her second botched escape attempt that Umukai is finally able to challenge his rival for the ownership of Catherine. As expected, Umukai defeats him in hand-to-hand combat (killing him, in fact) and is allowed to court Catherine unobstructed. Well, actually, that's not entirely true, as his biggest obstacle is Catherine herself, who hates Umukai–you know, because of the whole "you killed and decapitated my parents" thing.
Even though all the women in his village have wide, child-bearing hips, Umukai doesn't care about them, he is determined to prove his love to Catherine, the leggy blonde woman who makes his guts go gooey. Playing the flute, learning how to fish, befriending a tribeswoman who speaks a little English, Catherine is steadily adapting to life in the jungle (she even begins to appreciate the wonders of nature). Yet, she still can't get over the fact that Umukai murdered her parents, and that the tribe hang their severed heads in the tribe's trophy hut.
You wouldn't expect it, or maybe you would, what do I know, but the gorgeous Elvire Audray and the handsome Will Gonzales have great chemistry together as the film's cross cultural lovers. I'm always impressed when actresses are able to convey emotion while topless, and Elvire is no different in that regard, as she is able to maintain the dignity of her craft without the aid of a top. I mean, there are not many actresses out there who can look sexy while burying their parent's badly decomposed heads in a muddy clearing.
How it should always be (a man with a perceived shady past is forced to prove her worthiness to a woman with awesome legs), Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story is probably the most romantic movies I have seen. Which is high praise when you consider the fact that I've seen The Notebook and Nekromantik 2. Despite what Catherine thinks of him, which is not a clear cut as one would think, Umukai is epitome of masculinity. Only using violence when it's absolutely necessary, Umukai is actually a gentle soul. Only problem is, he that just happens to be surrounded cruelty and wickedness on a daily basis. Nonetheless, a beautiful love story emerges, one that will no doubt make your spirit soar.

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  1. I thought I left a comment on the Alphabet City entry. It's a HoSI movie I've actually seen! (HBO used to play it a lot in its earlier years.)

    Speaking of the early years of HBO, Tom Berenger just won an Emmy. I was trying to remember the last time I watched Eddie and the Cruisers.

    So, any celebrity sightings at TIFF?

    That might be the only time ever in the history of man that someone will utter the sentence, "...Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story is probably the most romantic movies I have seen. Which is high praise when you consider the fact that I've seen The Notebook and Nekromantik 2." HA HA HA.

  2. The internet must have eaten your A.C. comment, because I didn't see it. :(

    I just watched Tom Berenger play an ex-boxer who runs a talent agency for strippers in Fear City.

    TIFF: I thought I saw Reed Diamond outside the new Louis Vuitton superstore on Bloor St.

    Speaking of Homicide actors and Bloor, Andre Braugher's face is all over Yonge and Bloor subway station (he must be in a new show).

    And I saw Zeljko Ivanek in In Bruges.

    In the history of man, eh? Yeah, you're probably right. ;)