In a nutshell: Tarzan
goes to Guatemala looking for a lost friend and a valuable statue.
The first Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan film, Tarzan the Ape Man
(1932,) was a huge success and spawned a long series of sequels.
However Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs didn't care for these adaptations
of his most famous character. He thought they strayed too far from
the books he had written. In the novels, Tarzan was an English gentleman
with an Oxford education, but Weissmuller's Tarzan could barely speak.
To change this perception, Burroughs helped to produce a serial that would
showcase the Tarzan that he envisioned. The result is the 12 chapter
action filled serial The New Adventures of Tarzan.
Tazan's (Herman Brix) friend M. D'Arnot, the man who found Tarzan in
the African jungle and brought him back to civilization, becomes lost in
Guatamala when his plane is forced to make a crash landing. Tarzan
books passage to Central America to find D'Arnot and on the way meets Major
Martling (Frank Baker) and Ula Vale (Ula Holt) who are heading to Guatemala
to find the fabled Green Goddess, a very valuable idol. The idol
has more than monetary value though, there is also a formula for a powerful
explosive carved into the idol. But Martling and Vale aren't the
only ones looking for the Green goddess. The villainous Raglan (Ashton
Dearholt) also wants it for the power that it represents, and will stop
at nothing to get it before the others.
This is an exciting series. Filmed on location in Guatemala,
the production must have been fairly hectic. They even bill the serial
as "An Ashton Dearholt Expedition Picture." It was worth the trouble
though, because this serial looks a lot better than the Weissmuller films
that were filmed on studio sets and supplemented with old stock footage.
It has a more real feel to it, and that adds to the excitement. The
down side to this location filming is that the audio quality is fairly
poor. (More on that in the technical section.)
This Tarzan is more verbose too, which I prefer over the "Me Tarzan.
You Jane." speech that Weissmuller's Tarzan sported. On the down
side though, there are a few too many scenes of people standing around
and talking. This makes the serial drag in places, but once the action
starts, that quickly fades away.
Herman Brix looks good as Tarzan. The Olympic decathalon winner
certainly fits the part physically, and I liked his Tarzan yell quite a
bit. Unfortunately he's only a mediocre actor. He does a passable
job, but not an outstanding one.
One of the things I always look out for in serials is the quality of
the stunt work. This chapter play has some very good action sequences
that really make it fun. Tarzan swimming to catch a crocodile, fighting
lions and leopards, and swinging from tree to tree all help to make this
a quality serial.
The sound is simply atrocious, but that's not really Roan's fault.
Filmed in Guatemala, the production company didn't have access to the best
sound equipment, and the serial shows it. There is a very loud hiss
throughout the serial, and the dynamic range is very weak. Though
a few comments are too faint to discern, the dialog is generally at a good
level. Just don't expect too much from this two channel mono soundtrack.
The B&W fill frame video is adequate. Being an old unrestored
film, there are a good amount of print defects, scratches, spots and the
like. The image is soft, and the contrast isn't anything to write
home about either, with details being almost nonexistent in the shadows
and white scene being a little too bright. It isn't a horrible transfer
though, and there is a fair amount of detail. Well worth watching.
There is a bonus episode of the Toxic Crusaders cartoon, This
Spud's for You, as well as the Radiation March, something that seems
to show up on all Troma DVDs. There is also a filmography listing
all of the Tarzan movies that have been filmed.
Overall, a fun and exciting serial. Though there is some 'cheating'
when it comes to the cliffhangers, the action scenes are very good.
The show drags at times because of the wordy nature of the script, but
it isn't a fatal flaw. Recommended.