1987 - 90m.
Finding this movie is almost as difficult as finding the treasure from the title. It has never been released on DVD and I finally managed to track down a beat up VHS copy from a fellow collector. It made me a little bit sad as it is one of the only Linnea Quigley movies from her heyday that I have not yet seen but I figured the time had come to see what this flick had to offer. Aside from the Vice Academy series, Linnea had mostly appeared in low budget horror flicks so I have always been curious about what it would be like to see her starring in one of the many Raiders of the Lost Ark clones from the era. After popping the tape into my VCR, the first thing I noticed was the choppy editing which is quite jarring and makes the rhythm of the movie feel erratic. As the first act is where the characters and plot are being established, I had some trouble putting together where the story was heading. Eventually, I got used to it but the lack of experience in this department is evident.
Quigley stars as Lu De Belle, a pop singer with a completely inept manager named Harold (Don Calfa) who has booked her a gig in a complete dive. I am not sure what circuit she is used to performing her generic 80's pop songs in but this place is in the middle of the South American jungle and has midgets and farm animals sharing space with prostitutes and derelicts. It turns out that Harold made a deal with a local criminal named Diaz (Danny Addis) to have Lu make an appearance in an even more remote location so Harold arranges for them to make their way to their next destination on a boat owned by a cool guy with a five-o-clock shadow named Sam (Asher Brauner) and his girlfriend who looks good in a wet t-shirt named Brandy (Jo Ann Ayres). After a run in with some thugs, the group lose their transportation and must fend for themselves in the jungle and are caught by a tribe of natives who think that Lu is a goddess. Not a lot happens as the various cast members don't do much other than get captured and get rescued. The movie reaches its climax when the foursome are tried by the elders of the tribe and forced to survive a booby-trapped temple to prove their innocence.
I had such high hopes for this one but it should be said that cheap jungle action movies should be left to the Italians. After many years of watching what exploitation filmmakers like Umberto Lenzi and Ruggero Deodato have done with this subgenre, there are certain things I have come to expect. Sadly, in this flick nobody gets naked and has a bath in a waterfall, there is no gratuitous violence, the villain is really tame, and the whole exercise is dull. The first half reminded me of The Perils of Gwendoline without Tawny Kitaen's boobs so there isn't much to get excited about. Although Quigley is onboard, she is terribly underused with the focus being more on Brauner (who co-wrote the script) in what seems like an attempt to establish this unknown actor as an action hero. It all comes off as unfocused and I can see why this has been overlooked even though it came out at the peak of Quigley's scream queen fame.
Aside from the poor editing and lack of exploitation elements, the biggest problem here is Calfa. I know him best as Ernie from Return of the Living Dead but this guy should not have been cast in a major role in this flick. The character is unappealing enough but Calfa in the role seems totally out of place especially as the movie progresses and he takes on more of a hero role that he clearly should not be in. Making things worse, his character narrates the film through flashbacks as he is sleazing out on a bikini-clad woman who is supposedly transcribing the story for him. These scenes kill the movie and just when it seems like they can't get any more awkward, a gay housekeeper is introduced. Even without this stuff, however, the movie just doesn't have much going for it. The jungle setting is misused, the special effects are cheap and lazy (you can visibly see wires in a scene that features fireballs), and I would rather have been watching "Tales of the Gold Monkey" reruns. Quigley completists may want to check this out but if you are looking for jungle action, feast your eyes on some cannibals instead. (Josh Pasnak, 10/24/13)
Directed By: Joseph Louis Agraz.
Written By: Asher Brauner, Eric Weston.
Starring: Asher Brauner, Linnea Quigley, Don Calfa, Jo Ann Ayers.