Mike Vraney and Friends are always unearthing all manner of obscure drive-in and grindhouse favorites, as evidenced by their frequent catalog updates sent to their regular customers (aren't you one?). Two of the most exciting new discoveries were two skinflicks found around the same time and both ripping off MGM's TARZAN series! Paired here are those two rarities, for better or worse. Some fans probably won't enjoy either of them, but I dug 'em wholeheartedly!
Tarzan and Jane are happily married, living in the jungle and raising their pretty much grown son Boy. But when their tree hut has an aluminum ladder because the vine broke and the father-son team is introduced waving their pieters at the camera pretending to pee over the side of their home, you know that TARZ AND JANE, BOY AND CHEETAH is a nonsensical lower-than-low budget delivery for the skinflick crowd. After fighting with an ape (a guy in a suit doing hilariously lewd physical comedy) and losing, the beast has his way with Jane! Tarz gets into a fight with an alligator, only to have his manhood bitten off in a bloody display! Yowza!! How can he please the ever-horny Jane? The family must venture to Wango Wango Land with the help of Miss Wanda, a white girl explorer, to find Tarz a replacement woodie!
If you liked the goofy stupid humor in QUEEN KONG, imagine the same writer getting horny and writing a skinflick and that's the intelligence behind the writing in TARZ AND JANE! Jam-packed with ridiculous dialogue, dirty jokes, and mucho innuendo, the whole trainwreck seems totally improvised which makes it that much more entertaining. A corn cob dildo is heated up by its female recipient so much that it turns into popcorn (years before TROLL 2's popcorn sex scene!), Tarz fights with a REAL tiger in a river while trying to keep his fright wig on, machine gun fire is dubbed over a simple shotgun, the gorilla returns to hump two passed-out black natives (!), Wanda's gay husband likes to grab Boy's ass, the tribal chief spouts non-stop profanity and calls Wanda "a meshugana cunt," the Wango Wango tribe eats watermelon, and you won't believe the penis regrowing sequence!!
It's always great to see character actor Patrick Wright appearing in one of his many drive-in opuses, and this here is one of few leading roles. He has no issues with full nudity here, which is strange considering he humps away at the lovely lasses in SASSY SUE with his long underwear on!! Even better, his wife Tally Wright, a sexploitation legend in her own right, co-stars as Jane. Rumor has it that the two have parted ways, but Patrick is still working today and when they were together, they were a dynamite team! Between them, their careers spanned New York sleazies (including Damiano's superb doc CHANGES), Independent-International, Harry Novak's Box Office International, Russ Meyer, Al Adamson, Joe Sarno, Steve Apostolof, Jonathan Demme, THE CHEERLEADERS, THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS, the list goes on and on. Whew! Even though Rene Bond and Ric Lutz are known as the First Couple of Sexploitation, Tally and Patrick Wright take a close second. Not to mention that Tally did make-up, wardrobe, continuity and other tasks behind-the-scenes, while Patrick did stunt work, construction, production assisting and all kinds of other jobs, too. Truly renaissance people who deserve more respect in this genre. "Miss Wanda" is played by 70s porno diva Georgina Spelvin, highly regarded as the best actress in the adult film industry (even by Roger Ebert!). By 1975, the year this was shot, she had achieved superstardom with a dynamite performance in THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES, attempted a mainstream career with Al Adamson's GIRLS FOR RENT (slapping and strangling TARZ co-star Tally Wright!) and had initiated cinematographer Gary Graver into the adult film world with his first hardcore feature 3 A.M. She was at home with comedy (GARAGE GIRLS, DESIRES WITHIN YOUNG GIRLS, this film) or drama (MYSTIQUE, 3 A.M., WHEN SHE WAS BAD) and today happily answers fan mail sent to her official fan club! Whatta gal! Some have assumed that "Boy" is played by future porn star Tom Byron, but he would have been 15 when this was shot and 'Uncle Tom' as credited looks about 29 or 30. So that theory's out. Whoever this guy is, he's a very bad actor but plays the comedy pretty well. Eagle-eyed viewers will recognize Helen Lang, former Penthouse Pet and Pat's co-star from REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS, as one of the sexually active native girls with attitude! The end title card promises a sequel TARZ AND THE BORDELLO KING which was probably a joke, but if it would have starred the same people and featured the same writers, it would have been damn funny!
Moving on to another goofy Tarzan rip-off, we meet TARZUN, a gangly jungle man who (much like the opening scene of TARZ AND JANE) must save Jayne from a sexually voracious ape. Only this time Tarzun wins after stabbing the gorilla in his giant penis (!) and whisks Jayne away to sooth her with the use of a banana and another phallic device between his legs. However the hairy beast returns and abducts Jayne while her hero is off fishing! Tarzun slams into a tree on his way to save her and damages his crotch. Meena, a beautiful black princess with giant hooters, declares, "Me make Tarzun well" and goes down on him before taking him doggie-style. The young lovers are soon captured by the princess' tribe (played by a bunch of black guys probably picked up at UCLA) before Meena helps them escape and whisks Jayne away for a bath in the creek. When Jayne learns of Tarz' infidelity, she cries "You little savage!" and tries to strangle her rescuer! Tarzun catches Meena and has more jungle sex before hearing Jayne's cries for help when the ape returns (the third time?!) and has sex with her, too! Jeez this guy can't get enough! Meena is raped by the gorilla and Tarzun and Jayne swim nude and have sex one more time before the credits.
The release of TARZUN AND THE VALLEY OF LUST marks an occasion of sorts: it is the first storefront theater softcore film to be released by Something Weird! They have several more cheapie almost-hardcore films in their catalog, all shot over a weekend with a cast of non-professionals on grainy 16mm stock, but this is the first to make it to DVD! Now, considering this film, it may be a blessing more haven't been unleashed for the curious. Production values are embarrassingly bad, the whole thing is badly dubbed, there is no attempt at acting, and the pace is sloooooow. The sex is possibly hardcore, but most of the film is non-stop walking shots: Tarzun walking through the wilderness, the natives running through the wilderness, stock footage animals in the wilderness (and an obvious zoo!!). Garr! It's not as much fun as TARZ AND JANE, but makes for a good co-feature, even if you probably won't bother watching it more than once. It's only 49 minutes, and isn't too painful, so at least give it a look.
Following the jungle theme of the disc, the trailers kick off with the TARZ AND JANE, BOY AND CHEETAH, which features a number of alternate and deleted kicks! According to the narrator, this is one of Georgina Spelvin's most dramatic roles (?!). PRISONERS OF THE JUNGLE is a black-and-white trailer for a survival story of a group of plane crash survivors who find paradise in central Africa. Tons of stock footage! DAUGHTER OF THE SUN GOD is an enticing "lost" film; the trailer says it's in color but if so, this trailer is faded red beyond recognition! It has something to do with a voodoo curse, and apparently took 6 years to make. Stock footage shows tribal rituals, native girls swimming nude, and killer crocodiles. VIRGIN SACRIFICE was the worst film of the BOWANGA BOWANGA triple feature disc, but featured some gorgeous color photography and an interesting gory setpiece which is spotlighted in this trailer. With an awesome scene of a leopard fighting with a man, a nude swimming scene, and a woman kidnapped for sacrifice to the Tiger God!! CONGO CROSSING features more white people venturing into the jungles of Africa. It stars the late Virginia Mayo, one of the most underrated actresses of the 1940's, Hollywood homo George Nader, and Peter Lorre as comic relief. It looks very good, but will probably languish in Universal's vaults till Hell freezes over. VOODOO VILLAGE is a documentary shot by a traveling couple through the jungle. Fertility dances, nude bathing, tribal rituals and dances, and many more customs are seen through their camera. This looks somewhat less exploitive than others of its type, but the nude girls are featured prominently. TARZANA THE WILD GIRL stars future Eurocult star Femi Benussi, from Yugoslavia, in her first major starring role (after supporting roles in films like BLOODY PIT OF HORROR). Her blazing red hair is hidden behind an unflattering black wig, but she rides an elephant topless, swings through the jungle, makes a bizarre jungle call, and is a lovely vision. This Italian exploitation film is well worth seeing!
For some odd reason, the extras include a featurette called KARZIN IN CUBA, a 40-minute excerpt (perhaps the only surviving reels) of a film directed by cinematographer Manuel S. Conde while he was in Cuba. According to the box copy, this was smuggled out of Cuba after being shot in 1960. Whether that's true is questionable, but it's an interesting curio. It was shot in color, but the years have faded the print to a state of red and is in very badly dubbed and accented English but subtitled in Spanish. A shipwreck washes up an all-girl musical band on the shores of a deserted island (we know it's deserted by the non-stop stock footage shown during the credits!). So far, so much like HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND. Except these girls wake up on the beach and launch into a musical number right off the bat!! Lo and behold, their song works because a sailor comes paddling ashore out of the blue yonder and sings a Spanish tune for the girls!! OK, what the hell is going on here? It gets even kookier when the guy turns out to be gay and is scared back into the ocean by a sea critter! The girls' manager has apparently found a shelter in the jungle which turns out to be the home of a jungle boy a la Tarzan. I don't want to spoil any more of the crazy surprises in store for you, but this is one of the best and craziest extra features on any Something Weird DVD ever!!
The shorts continue with "Gorilla and the Maiden" finds a burlesque dame doing a high-kicking shimmy-shake dance before being mauled by a guy in an ape suit. "Africa a Go Go" is a color excerpt from an unnamed feature film. It's supposed to be a tribal dance, with lots of frantic drummers and topless girl dancers, but it takes place on a soundstage! "Diana the Huntress" is a mail-order 8mm loop from the 1940's with a smiling brunette parking her car and laying on a blanket to relax...until she suddenly changes into a leopard-skin bikini and goes hunting for the wild African animals she sees! She athletically jumps and cavorts all over the place, shooting arrows from a trusty bow and arrow set. One of her arrows sends a plane spiraling down towards the ground in flames!! "African Frenzy" is a roadshow short documenting the life of pygmies, women in African tribes and hunting. Lots of stock footage of real-life tribes and their daily rituals. This is a pretty fascinating short, even if it's kind of exploitive in nature. For some reason, the two Harry Novak galleries from SWEET GEORGIA/COUNTRY HOOKER are included here, even though neither feature is a Novak film.....?
TARZ AND JANE, BOY AND CHEETAH is the real reason to pick this disc up, an absurd comedy spoof with a great cast, and the inclusion of the ultra-rare KARZIN IN CUBA is just icing on the cake! Recommended! (Casey Scott)
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