Off the top of my head, I can't think of a more inconsistent director that Jess Franco. He's made minor masterpieces such as Venus In Furs and Vampyros Lesbos and he's made utter dreck like Incubus and this film, Golden Temple Amazons. Now in Franco's defense it's possible that he wasn't responsible for a lot of the post production editing of this film, as that is the case with some of the other less than renowned films he made for French production house Eurocine in the 1980s, but that doesn't change the fact that Golden Temple Amazons doesn't have much to offer except wanton nudity (never a bad thing) and some unintentional hilarity.
The story is basically Tarzan except with a moderately attractive woman playing the lead. When Liana was a young girl, her missionary parents were killed by a tribe of Amazonian women after her father stole some of the gold out of their temple and wouldn't return it. With both of her parents dead, Liana was raised in the wilds of the jungle by her housekeep, a native man named Willy. When she reaches adulthood she spends most of her time frolicking in the jungle with elephants and her monkey friend named Rocky, usually without any top on.
One day a friend of her late father's shows up and reads to her from her late dad's diary. It's here that Liana finds out the true story of why her parents were murdered and because of this she decides to set things right in the world and avenge their death by taking on the Amazon warrior women who live just on the other side of the forest. She acquires the aid of a fat magic man named Koo-Koo, who is basically on hand to provide some very awkward and poorly executed comic relief.
On their way to the Amazonian base, they run into two white folk out on Safari. The man of the pair ends up getting gassed in a cave and, once he's out for the night, he finds himself the victim of an Amazonian kidnapping plot. This adds even more fuel to Liana's fire, and once the female member is also kidnapped, she and Koo-Koo decide that the time to strike is now! Unfortunately for Liana, she's going to have to go up against the one eyed leader of the Amazonians, a sadistic whip fetsishist and their high priest if she wants to get out of there alive with her friends.
This movie is awful. While it does provide a whole lot of unintentionally funny moments, it's still a truly terrible film. The props are budget looking to the extreme (some of the natives carry shields decorated with spray paint), the sets are about as cheap as you can get (the movie was shot in a park and the Amazonian cave is covered in golden metal foil wrap) and the filmmaker's couldn't even be bothered to hide a car that's evident in the background of one shot. Much of the movie is Liana running around with her elephant and monkey friends or swinging around on vines, which really doesn't help the pacing of the movie that much, and the Koo-Koo character is just not funny at all.
There are enough 'What the Hell?' moments in this one to keep your brain busy throughout though. Attentive viewers (actually, you don't really have to be that attentive to notice this stuff…) will pick up on the fact that although she was raised by a native, Liana speaks perfect text book English, most of the Amazonian women are of obviously European descent, and some of the native tribesman are white guys in bad make up. No motivation is given for the Amazonians to be as obsessed over their wealth as they are – they never really mention their motives for periodically kidnapping and killing off the white folk who wander into their caves and because of this, pretty much all of the movie happens for no truly explained reason.
If you're a fan of 'so bad it's good' cinema, you might get a kick out of this one but even with my extremely high threshold for crap I had trouble making it all the way to the finish line with the film. There are few things I like better than bad action and gratuitous nudity and this movie has that in spades but on rare occasions, that's just not enough and this is, sadly, one of those occasions.
The 1.66.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks pretty decent. Colors are nice and crisp and the print damage that is there is quite minimal. There's a little bit of black dirt noticeable on the print in a few scenes but that's the worst of it. There aren't any problems with edge enhancement or mpeg compression worth noting either.
The English dub, though very unnatural looking and quite awkward even at the best of times, does sound clean and clear. There's not much in the way of super-dee-duper sound effects going on, just the occasional twang of a bow string or some animal sounds here and there, so there's not a whole lot of directional effects to work with here. The abhorrent score with which Eurocine saw fit to bless this film with comes through nice and clear, for better or worse.
Extra features include just over eight minutes worth of alternate scenes, the majority of which are Liana riding around on an elephant and a few shots of the Amazon women riding around on their horses, are included. There's also an interview with Eurocine's Daniel Lasoeur in which he talks about shooting the film in a park in southern Spain as well as a few other oddball stories about the film, but oddly enough he doesn't discuss the film's director that much at all. There's also an insanely long nine minute trailer for the feature, a decent sized still gallery, and some trailers for other Shriek Show films.
Well, aside from the dumb typo on the front of the packaging that top bills a conspicuously absent Lina Romay, Shriek Show didn't do a half bad job with the disc but that doesn't stop Golden Temple Amazons from stinking to high heaven. Unless you're a Franco completist, skip it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.