Something Weird Video // 1959 // 197 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // April 21st, 2004
Savage tribes, savage women!
Mr. Kookalamanza, a real ugly guy also known as Kirby, and his pidgin-English-speaking buddy, Count Sparafucile, head over to Africa to spend some quality time with several tropical diseases. While camped out in the middle of nowhere, they stumble across Trent, a dehydrated and delirious dipstick who swears he was attacked by a bunch of female warriors known as the Ulama. Naturally, being hopped up like jackrabbits at Easter, these desperate dudes go seeking the sexy savages, hoping to finally know the touch of a woman, primitive or not. Sadly, the lonely lasses are only interested in the pseudo-brawny trench-mouthed Trent. The other two tools will be sacrificed to the Fire God, which appears to be a smoky smoldering seam in a bunch of rocks. Little do the lunkheads know, but some of Ulama's ladies are as desperate as they, and are willing to defy their Queen to get themselves a little Bowanga Bowanga (as Snu-Snu will not be invented for several centuries yet).
Over in the land of Wongo, the women are fed up. The bulky, meaty men of their village are about as enlightened as Archie Bunker, and only half as sexy. The Dragon temple priestess keeps demanding that these maidens marry the lumbering louts before the lizard deity gets his scales in a bunch. So imagine their surprise when a visitor from Goona, the king's son, arrives to talk about an ongoing war with the Ape Men. Not only is he brave and strong, but he's dreamy in a very Blue Boy kind of way. One look at his bronze skin, sweet pecs, and alarmingly curvaceous legs, and the ladies are in hormone heaven. Wongon princess Omoo experiences lust at first sight and longs to show the stud her natural loincloth. Unfortunately, her regal father has sold her to a local unpretty boy for a bag of seashells. When some ancient rite is blasphemed, the women are banished. The first chance they get, they head over to Goona to get some. They don't call them the Wild Women of Wongo for nothing.
Samson, known to all in the South American jungle as a big, beefy bwana, runs into some trouble with the Vicuni savages (or maybe it's the Pakuni. That Chaka is such a character) when he goes out big game hunting. Seems that his best buddy Benson was a victim of this tribe's "chuck spear and ask questions later" ideal of territoriality. But old Sam is not fazed. He just wants revenge! Lucky for him, the wayward warriors kidnap the incredibly manly Morena -- daughter of another rain forest friend -- as an offering to their leopard-spotted "Tiger" (?) god. Bloodlust in hand, the buff steak-eating explorer goes after Tumic, the enfant terrible of the tropical clan, as he drags the distressing damsel through the underbrush for 40 of the most meandering minutes in screen history. Sammy-san manages to rescue the unfair maiden, but has to engage in a homoerotic battle to the death with Tumic. Apparently that's the price for stopping a Virgin Sacrifice.
Bowanga Bowanga, subtitled The White Sirens of Africa, would need the combined vocal chops of Montserrat Caballé, Barbra Streisand, and Julie Andrews to have any chance of luring viewers to this dismally dreary jungle rot. Nothing more than a bunch of post-WWII pin-up models running around in their animal skin swimming attire murmuring like moronic minks, Bowanga shows very little action and hardly any ampleness to the ferocious female fauna fighters. What we get instead is lots of loony stock footage -- travelogue shots of various African animals like hippos...leopards...elephants...and moose. Moose? Yep, along with some very Bambi-esque deer and images of monkeys looking dazed and confused, Bowanga tries to create the essence of the Veldt out of a California state park.
However, the end result is in desperate need of extinction, not preservation. Sure, there are moments of unintentional merriment to be found here, especially when Queen Bonga Bonga opens her maw -- replete with a stark white toothy overbite -- and mumbles "faar gaad wan stroong mon" (translation: Fire God wants strong man) in an accent that recalls Justin Wilson mixed with Professor Irwin Corey. But for the most part, some Italian idgit runs around sounding like a stereotype, and battle-scarred beauties do a lot of non-interpretative dancing. Maybe if some mammaries had magically popped out, turning the nausea into a nudie film, Bowanga would beckon. But as it stands, it's just some Dense Continent drivel.
Now, if you like your cake more on the beef than cheese side, then step right up and relish the ripped torsos and tight tushies of the men of Goona (perhaps the gayest primitive culture in all of archeology) as they avoid the vixen vices of the Wongon women in this wild lesson in same-sex issues. Long considered a campy classic, Wild Women of Wongo does have its charms. Where else but in a bad B-movie could you see a bunch of bodybuilders mincing about, complaining about being pursued by scantily clad gals, while simultaneously working on their tans? There is no plot to this film, just a really non-PC ideal about beauty and compatibility. The men of Wongo make Bobby Riggs seem ultra-liberal, and their campfire talk about how revolting and self-doubting they are is perhaps the only time the true inner male psyche has ever been captured onscreen. The so-called "wild" women are mostly attractive tarts given to petty jealousies and catfighting, just like most females. And we already understand the confusion raging in the buff boys of G-ville. But when the women of Goona, famous for being the fugliest females in ancient society, make their comic entrance, their warts and all wilda-beastliness contorts the subtle carnality into something completely comic. From there, Wild Women of Wongo just kind of falls apart. Again, this film could really use a little flesh frolic and exposure -- on the part of either gender -- to make the exploitation endurable. But without the bodkin, you're stuck with the battle-of-the-sexual-politics plot, and no example of supposed primitive pulchritude should rest on such a shaky foundation.
Last and certainly least is Virgin Sacrifice, which should actually be called The Bulky Businessman's Guide to Heatstroke. This extended chase between a dumpy deer hunter and a tribe of theatrical makeup lovers starts off with a lot of pith helmet promise. We first get to witness the title ritual in all its breast-baring bounty (finally, a little boob for the boys!). After that, we are treated to a fight between an obviously stuntmanned Samson and an equally trained "tiger" (a leopard stands in for the striped one). But the coup de grace may be the strange, forbidden dance done by a shirtless stiff and a rather bountiful babe in a local canteen where Samson rests his ever-bending elbows.
The minute we meet up with the Hispanic horror Morena and her dithering old coot father, however, the movie takes a South-of-the-believability-border twist from whence it can never recover. What Samson sees in the unfertile femme, perhaps the single most unattractive thing in the Amazon (and that includes the infamous diarrhea ape), is a mystery even the most gifted medicine man couldn't decipher. Yet he spends the rest of the running time going after her brutish blandness while killing more Indians than the U.S. government and John Wayne combined. David DaLie (famous as the bloated bayou fugitive in Swamp Country) is about as convincing an action hero as Ben Affleck, and seems to be sweating Vat 69 from every pore. His bare barrel-chested challenge at the end of the film for the monkey-ish Mo is a clear example of how not everything in the wilderness is aesthetically pleasing. Virgin Sacrifice may have shocked the citizens of a pre-progressive middle America, but it now plays like a slow-motion lesson in white-man barbarism mixed with a desperate and dateless dimension.
As usual with Something Weird Video triple features, the titles outnumber the treats. We do get an excellent roadshow gallery featuring ads and promotional materials from many of those infamous Mom and Dad movies. There are a half-dozen trailers all trading on the primordial passion angle. And the sole short subject, entitled Forbidden Daughters, is an old-fashioned nude novelty in which white women get naked to mimic the natives around them. This racially insensitive portrayal of plump pillows is a completely craven confection. As for the full frame images, each film has its own issues. The sole black-and-white entry, Bowanga is faded and filled with scratches. Wild Women of Wongo offers washed-out color and defects. Only Virgin Sacrifice looks clean and crisp, the better to see the pitstains on Mr. DaLie's shirts, or the moustache on Morena. Fans looking for flopping flesh in all its revelation resplendence will be sadly undersatisfied with these films. While it's true that tits can save just about anything (just ask Showgirls), one may be hard pressed to enjoy any of these tedious tribal tonics, with or without hot and humid hooters.
Review content copyright © 2004 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 197 Minutes
Release Year: 1959
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Gallery of Roadshow Exploitation Art with Audio Oddities
* 1920's Roadshow Short: Forbidden Daughters
* IMDb: Bowanga Bowanga
* IMDb: Wild Women of Wongo
* IMDb: Virgin Sacrifice