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Image Entertainment presents
Gold of the Amazon Women (1979)

"In the Amazon Delta, I found something which, no doubt, ultimately will cause my death. Mr. Jensen - I found the Seven Cities of El Dorado!"
- Fredric Reynolds (John Sarno)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: February 27, 2001

Stars: Bo Svenson, Anita Ekberg
Other Stars: Donald Pleasence, Richard Romanus
Director: Mark L. Lester

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (TV-level violence, adult themes)
Run Time: 01h:32m:50s
Release Date: January 30, 2001
UPC: 014381985528
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
D D-D-D+ D-

DVD Review

Gold of the Amazon Women is a thoroughly inept adventure movie made for television in 1979, starring Bo Svenson as Tom Jensen, explorer extraordinaire and potential winner of the David Soul Dress-Alike Pageant. Aging "discoverer" Fredric Reynolds (John Sarno) informs Jensen that he has discovered the Seven Cities of El Dorado, just before he is dispatched by a pair of bikini-clad assassins, who commit mutual suicide after completing their mission. Jensen and his acquaintance Luis Escobar (Fast Times at Ridgemont High's Richard Romanus with a heavy tan) head to the jungles of South America, where they are captured by beautiful Amazon warriors who guard a fortune in golden treasure. Jensen and Escobar join the Amazon Queen Winnina (Anita Ekberg) in her fight against the evil drug dealer Clarence Blasko (Donald Pleasence), intent on stealing the gold so he can corner the international drug market.

The quick-and-cheap nature of this production finds its way into every nook and cranny, combining lousy dialogue with bad performances, all wrapped up in a physical production worthy of Ed Wood. The fun begins in earnest when Jensen opens his suitcase upon arriving in South America, only to be attacked by a rubber snake. And we're not talking about a Don Smith rubber snake here—this is clearly an 89-cent Woolworth's toy, with bright, carelessly painted eyes and fangs, permanently molded curves and a discernible lack of joie de vivre as it is yanked from its Samsonite den, waved about in the air, and crushed under Jensen's boot. But that's not all this fine production has to offer—you'll thrill when Jensen dives into dangerous waters to rescue an Amazon maiden! Lightning-quick, menacing alligators (courtesy of stock footage) are suddenly replaced by one slow-moving, mechanically chomping 'gator who pursues his victims with all the enthusiasm of an Exocet on Ritalin. This lazy excuse for a predator can't even get its exit right, choosing to express its rage and frustration by drifting lifelessly into the riverbank after Jensen and friend are safely on shore.

The sets are rendered in equally lavish fashion—early, talky scenes are set in generic dining rooms (at the "Discoverers Club") and hotels, followed by sparse, sunlit backlot jungles and a native village whose thatched huts masquerade as two "completely different" locations but fail to fool anyone. The fabled city of El Dorado (we only get to see the "first city" of the purported seven) is a generic pseudo-Aztec temple set, coated with cheap-looking gold paint.

The Amazon Women are interesting creations, speaking a sort of pidgin English in a variety of accents ranging from European to Valley Girl. Their costumes consist of draped fabric and animal-skin bikini components, with just enough cleavage on display to lend a smarmy sense of sexuality to the proceedings whenever the ersatz violence grows tiresome. While their technology is primitive, they have apparently devised some sort of herbal Toni Home Permanent treatment, judging from the hairstyles sported by many of the Amazons.

The performers do what they can with the stilted, awkwardly phrased dialogue, but most of them fail miserably (watch for a particularly porno-esque performance by the desk girl at the Discoverers Club). Anita Ekberg is suitably regal and wise as Queen Winnina, though one is forced to question her plan for propagating the tribe—despite the presence of several caged men kept on hand to perform certain nightly duties, one of whom has been around for six years, there's not a single child to be seen in the village. The ubiquitous Donald Pleasence looks embarrassed as Blasko, constantly firing his handguns and helicopter weaponry at Jensen and Escobar without ever once hitting them, and the actor's modest physical stature is further diminished by a pair of Amazons he has drugged into assisting him. And one can't help but sympathize with the poor, obese woman who plays the wife of a tribal chieftain, intended as "comic relief."

No one involved here seems to be having a good time, and neither do we; the screenwriter adopts a protective pseudonym, and one suspects director Mark L. Lester lists Roller Boogie on his resume above this little project. I suppose the producers deserve some credit for releasing this a few years BEFORE Raiders of the Lost Ark became a big hit, and there are a few lines clearly intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but the end product is still awful. Not so-bad-it's-good... just painfully, embarrassingly awful.

Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Gold of the Amazon Women is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame made-for-television aspect ratio, drawn from a less-than-stellar broadcast videotape master. The source print exhibits frequent emulsion speckling, with a running strip of damage down the right-hand side of the image for the first several minutes. The video-sourced image is soft and grainy, plagued by scan-line artifacts, red/blue color aliasing, moire effects and color instability. It's too bad an original film print wasn't available for the transfer—as it is, the DVD looks only slightly superior to homebrewed VHS.

Image Transfer Grade: D-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Image Entertainment presents Gold of the Amazon Women with its original soundtrack, digitally mastered in true Dolby Digital 1.0 monophonic audio. The low-budget analog source soundtrack suffers badly from hiss, crackle and background noise in dialogue scenes recorded "live," tinny, shrill music, general muddiness and a lack of dynamic range. The digital transfer reproduces the inadequate source faithfully, I'm sure, but this is an unpleasant audio experience all around.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Image Entertainment's Gold of the Amazon Women DVD is extremely bare-bones, with 12 picture-menu chapter stops (integrated with the main menu) and nothing more. Normally I'd insist that every film deserves SOME sort of supplemental support, but I think in this case the "bum's rush" presentation is completely appropriate.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Gold of the Amazon Women is a made-for-TV adventure movie that achieves a laughable but not quite laudable ineptitude. Image Entertainment's DVD features a mediocre transfer and no extras whatsoever. Steer clear, Jungle Adventurers!


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