Code Red // 1979 // 96 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // September 15th, 2013
"In my country, women are known as the weaker sex."
"Everything wrong-side down up there."
Gold of the Amazon Women is one of those films you've probably heard of and might have thought you'd seen, but probably haven't. A silly, made-for-TV relic that also had a brief theatrical run overseas, this is goofy stuff helped along a bit by a game cast and some occasionally ludicrous action set pieces.
Ex-explorer Tom Jensen (Bo Svenson, Final Chapter: Walking Tall) is contacted by an old man with some maps. The man tells Jensen that these are the maps of the Seven Cities of El Dorado, and that evil (is there any other kind?) drug dealer Blasko (Donald Pleasance, Land of the Minotaur) is planning to find and steal all the gold.
The old man has made the mistake of disclosing this information on a New York City street in the '70s, when everyone knew Fun City was a dangerous place. How dangerous? Dangerous enough that two women in bikinis, armed with bows and arrows, can climb up residential buildings and use said bows and arrows to assassinate an elderly man on the street, that's how dangerous. Jensen runs up to the top of the building to catch them, but the women save him the trouble by shooting arrows into each other's abdomen -- a one-time-only trick, we learn, employed by Amazons to avoid capture.
After an attempted murder on Jensen -- poisoned wine! -- our explorer and a sidekick, Luis Escobar (Richard Romanus, Mean Streets) set out for the Amazon jungle. On their trail: the evil (is there any other kind) drug dealer Blasko and his two Amazonian-looking babe/henchgirls.
The trip through the Amazon forest is long, arduous, and confusing -- so confusing that Jensen and Escobar stumble upon what appears to be an African village, complete with loin-clothed natives, half-English-half-Native-Dialect-spewing chief (who has four wives), and raucous half-time show-style dance around the campfire that looks like it was co-opted from a Tarzan movie.
This interlude, and others like it, does nothing to move the film along; if anything, they slow it down. They're not interesting asides, we don't meet characters or gain information that will be important later; the only purpose of these side interludes is to pad the run time so the film can fit into a two-hour-plus-commercials time slot.
We're about halfway through when Jensen and Escobar finally -- finally -- meet the Amazon women. Tall, athletic, meticulously made up, and not an ounce of fat on them, these spear-bearing cuties lead our guys back to their village to meet their queen. And what a queen it is: It's Anita Ekberg, one-time sex symbol (La Dolce Vita!) turned chunky exploitation mainstay (Killer Nun). Unlike the other tribeswomen, Queen Anita keeps herself carefully and conspicuously covered.
Thanks to explorers who wander through the area and apparently die shortly thereafter, the Amazons have a primitive command of English, which means we don't have to watch the film in Amazonian with English subtitles; unfortunately, it also means we have to listen to a tribe of volleyball players from Maxim magazine land saying lots of cruddy lines of dialogue that are absent things like linking verbs, prepositions, and articles. However miserable their command of the language, though, it's comforting that these primitive cuties have mastered the ancient art of the bikini wax.
Tacky sets, tacky acting, tacky plot, tacky script, tacky, tacky, everywhere -- so why isn't this more fun?
Maybe it's all the padding...seriously, a lot of crap just happens for no apparent reason, and it's not interesting or colorful enough to be useful filler. Even when they try to introduce something a little cool or titillating -- like one guy who has literally had 30 years of his life screwed out of him -- it just falls flat.
Maybe it's the slightly sour performances from Svensen and Ekberg, who approach the whole thing as though they'd rather be anywhere else. Romanus is fine as the comic-relief sidekick, who suffers numerous indignities that cause the people on-screen to snicker but the rest of us to yawn, and the "Amazons" are as perky and pseudo-badass as high school girls trying out for a cheerleading team supporting the Crips; but only Pleasance offers the kind of campy, old-school, big, bad acting that this thing needs.
Maybe it's the whole onus of TV-movie and all the cheap-jackery that goes with it. It all plays kind of like a pilot episode, with an ending that introduces a new villain and opens the door for More Adventures! for our heroes. Plus, as a TV movie, we are going to be denied the very things we'd pay to see in a film with Amazon Women in the title: T'n'A, and to a lesser extent, bloodshed. Clearly, the producers understood this, as the trailer -- which, I'm guessing, was used for the European theatrical releases -- features a fair amount of T (if not much 'n' A nor bloodshed).
I understand it's all supposed to be cartoonish, but then why not just make it a cartoon and cast Snoopy and Garfield as the protagonists?
Code Red does its usual nifty job here, presenting a decent-looking 1.78:1 anamorphic print of the TV version with acceptable sound. Besides the trailer, there's one extra, but it's definitely worth a tumble: "Exposing the Amazon Women, a Candid Interview with Alfredo Leone," who produced this thing, and candid it be, as Leone -- rather inexplicably -- heaps praise on the film itself whilst ripping apart most of the people involved with making it, particularly Svensen and Ekberg. It's a very entertaining listen.
Not the worst movie ever made, and not the best disc from Code Red, Gold of the Amazon Women is de facto bad, but really more of a wash.
Review content copyright © 2013 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Code Red
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Not Rated