Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jungle Virgin Force (Indonesia, 1983)

The opening narration to Jungle Virgin Force gives us some idea of what it might be like if the already overly-verbose, smugly paternalistic narrator of a 1950s faux-anthropological exploitation film -- like, oh, Gregg G. Tallas's Prehistoric Women, say -- were allowed to expound unchecked, and as such deserves to be quoted in its entirety:
"In Southeast Asia there are vast, unexplored jungle areas inhabited by native tribes whose lives are untouched by civilization. And on one small island there dwells a tribe so isolated that it has never made contact with other jungle tribes of that region. Their language is so ancient that it cannot be understood by any other people of the world. Their lives are primitive, and they worship gods and powers long forgotten by the rest of mankind. In recent years, there have been many stories told among these tribes' people about a mysterious woman of the jungle who many claim to have seen from time to time. There are many debates about the mystery woman. Is she an intruding menace who should be hunted down and destroyed, or could she be a goddess come to bless her people with her protective presence among them?"
What plays out on screen as all of this nutritionally dubious thought food is being ladled out is a pretty standard nudie cutie scenario involving a group of woman in leopard print fur bikinis doing a leisurely striptease before going for a naked frolic in a nearby lake. All of these women's naughty parts, I should point out, have been fogged over -- perhaps at the behest of Indonesia's strident censorship board -- a circumstance which some of this film's reviewers on the IMDB have found very upsetting. However, like any Indonesian exploitation film worth its salt, Jungle Virgin Force perversely compensates for its lack of nudity by being exactly the type of movie that you would think would be loaded with nudity. Gratuitousness, I'm delighted to report, is the go word here -- this being, after all, a film in which red leather hot pants are deemed appropriate attire for a woman undertaking a lengthy expedition through uncharted jungle.

Anyway, as one might suspect, our narrator has not shot his wad with that sermon-length opening salvo, and so continues, as such narrators will, to describe in detail things that can clearly be seen taking place on screen as they happen. Yes, narrator, I can see that the skinny dipping cave women are now being attacked by an alligator. And I must concur with your observation that said alligator is in turn being attacked and subdued by that very same mysterious jungle woman that you were just yattering on about minutes ago. Oh, and by the way, narrator, what you did not mention is that this Sheena-like jungle heroine is played by Indonesian action starlet Lydia Kandou, who has already received more than her fair share of coverage on 4DK this month by way of having also starred in the previously reviewed Darna Ajaib.
The mysterious jungle woman, we soon find out, goes by the somewhat mystery-dispelling name of Jelita, and the skinny dippers are so grateful to her for rescuing them that they take her home and announce to the rest of their tribe that they are making her their god. This does not sit well with the tribe's high priest, as it well might not. After all, the very fact that the tribe has a high priest suggests that they already have a perfectly good set of gods and religious beliefs -- even if those beliefs sometimes involve a bit of cannibalism. Because of this rift, a bloody battle ensues, and the women of the tribe are driven away by the priest and his horned foot soldiers. The men then hang a "He-Man Woman Haters Club" sign over the cave entrance and begin giving free reign to their cannibalistic ways -- which is a fanciful, but in essence accurate representation of what we men get up to when left to our own devices, free from the civilizing influence of y'all bitches.

Then, as the narrator goes off on a "but are we modern city folks any more civilized than these so-called savages? ARE WE?" riff, we are whisked away to Jakarta, where we learn that the narrator is actually a college professor, and that his narration is simply him verbally preparing a group of his students for an expedition they are about to take to the very island on which all of the action he has just been somewhat preposterously describing as it took place took place. Amazingly, these students are actually awake and paying attention, which suggests heavy Vivarin habits on their parts, no doubt fostered by the need to sit through countless of this man's lectures. "Bla bla bla ANCIENT MAGICS", he says. "Bla bla bla DEVIL'S TRIANGLE bla bla CANNIBALISTIC RITES." Oh and, "Ignore anything you might hear about the tribe having a PRICELESS TREASURE."
Amazingly, these students -- among whom are red leather hot pants girl, hot headed guy who wants to shoot everything, hunky guy, and girl whose name I think is "Maserati" -- seem perfectly willing to ignore the treasure. Fortunately, there is another group of bad kids who want to do the opposite of ignoring it, and who are also convinced that the pro-ignoring-the-treasure kids can show them where that treasure is so that they can find it and very actively not ignore it. This leads to all kinds of stunt-filled fights and a great dumb car chase involving pyramids of oil barrels sitting in the middle of the road for no reason and a conveniently located, skull-and-crossbones covered shack filled with dynamite just waiting for a car to crash into it so that it can blow up.
Soon both groups arrive on the island and, after enduring some boilerplate "perils of the jungle" -- white rapids! snakes! pointy sticks! -- have alerted both the cannibal tribe and Jelita to their presence by way of hot headed guy's shooty-ness. Carnage follows, and while the spectacle of callous city folks being torn apart like fresh baguettes by savages with a taste for flesh makes clear that Jungle Virgin Force is inspired by grim Italian grue-fests like Cannibal Holocaust, its treatment of the subject comes across more like an Archie Comics adaptation of same. And, of course, this being an Indonesian film, this all gets discarded in the end for a crazy mystical battle between the evil high priest and the group of exiled women, who have all since become imbued with cartoon-assisted magical powers thanks to the benign intervention of a powerful sorceress and some 80s rock video choreography.

The fact that Lydia Kandou's female Tarzan character ends up getting pushed aside somewhat by the rest of Jungle Virgin Force's silly goings on is an indication of just how generous the film is in its hokeyness. In other words, folks whose expectations have been primed by other Indonesian exploiters like Lady Terminator and Virgins From Hell should find plenty to holler about here. The gore is plentiful and ridiculous, but also weirdly imaginative, including, among other things, spontaneous disembowelings and a "magic fire" that turns a woman's body into a pool of pulsating soup. And if it's hilarious English dubbing you want, well, let's just say there's a scene in which a man with a giant spear driven through his midsection is asked "are you okay?", and that the cannibals on more than one occasion are heard to say "Mabooga! Mabooga! Mabooga!"


houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

It's too bad that the Professor guy doesn't explain the reason for the presence of dynamite shacks and exploding barrels. I'm sure SCIENCE(!) will someday solve the riddle of their existence.

Todd said...

Or perhaps, like crop circles, mid-road oil barrel pyramids are something that science has yet to be able to adequately explain.

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

I'm pretty sure the Maya have something to do with it.

Todd said...

Why do you hate these movies so much? Is it because they have nothing about Viagra in them?

Todd said...

Generic Viagra, do you like Star Wars?