Along with Diamonds of Kilimanjaro (1983), this is another of Jess Franco’s topless jungle girl movies produced by schlock merchants Eurociné and part-inspired by the Liane, Jungle Goddess (1956) movies that were quite popular in Europe. Several cast members from Diamonds… return while the plot is a virtual retread. Topless blonde amazons on horseback murder jungle explorer Simpson and his wife, making an orphan out of their little girl who grows up to be bare-breasted, bubble-permed Liana (Analia Ivars). While out frolicking with her animal friends, Liana is discovered by Johnson (Olivier Mathot), who… speaks… very… slowly… so the (perfectly fluent) jungle girl… can… understand. Patronising bastard.
Anyway, Johnson reveals Liana’s parents were killed because they discovered the legendary golden fortress of the amazons (which resembles a shack covered in shiny tin foil), underneath which slaves toil in their gold mines. Out for revenge, Liana heads into the jungle and is briefly detained by worldly-wise Chief Mabuto, whose brother was kidnapped by amazons and who shackles her with useless witch doctor-cum-comedy sidekick Koukou (Stanley Kapoul). The pair then run across a group of fortune hunters, including archaeologist Harvey Mason, his oft-naked wife Bella, and beardy Bud (Antonio Mayans) out searching for gold amidst the Blue Mountains. Eventually they all end up prisoners of the amazons and their aging, pot-bellied lord Uruck (William Berger), whose eye-patch sporting right hand gal Rena (Eva León) (introduced via a series of rhythmic jump-cuts that proves even Franco took notice of MTV) straps them into an array of sadistic torture devices until Rocky the Chimpanzee saves the day.
Some claim Jess Franco shot only 5% of this film and left the rest to co-director Alain Petit. Others insist Franco was pseudonymously behind the whole thing with the French born Petit receiving credit purely for tax reasons. And some say Golden Temple Amazons is absolute garbage, so why quibble? Filmed at a Spanish wildlife park near Benidorm, this at least has plenty of elephants, giraffe, zebras and lions going for it, which combined with Ivars’ inept but enthusiastic lead turn lends an air of innocence to an otherwise sleazy and slapdash production.
Things plod along tediously with predictable time-outs for gratuitous nudity as Bella goes skinny-dipping (and narrowly escapes a hungry, hungry hippo!) and inane comedy, as Koukou and his non-stop chanting and pontificating (“Stupid girl in trouble, huh?”) grow really annoying. Franco restages the “lovers whipped over a bed of spikes” bit from The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1972), a movie he seems to have spent the last thirty years obsessively remaking in various guises. Amidst a largely listless cast, Françoise Blanchard, who plays one of the warrior women, went on to headline a number of Eurocine movies in addition to more serious fare.
One imagines the original Liane had an equal chance to display as much heroism as bare flesh. Liana however proves an utterly ineffectual heroine, constantly losing fights or getting herself captured, and relying on chance rather than wit to get her out of a fix. In a ridiculous scene, Uruck has sex with Liana then conveniently falls asleep beside his captive so she can stab him with her knife. Didn’t anyone bother to search her? Her big duel to the death with Rena is as crass as a women’s mud-wrestling bout, more embarrassing than erotic, while the minor characters exist solely to squeal whilst being tortured on the rack in boring scenes, until Rocky comes along. Quite why Koukou says “Don’t! No!” while the chimp frees his bonds, I’ll never know. He later takes complete credit for the heroes’ escape, which might be why Rocky looks so peeved in the closing scenes. Poor monkey.
Shriek Show’s region 1 DVD includes a photo gallery, a trailer for this film and a selection of other Jess Franco and jungle horror titles, plus an interview with Eurocine’s head honcho Daniel Lasoeur, who co-authored the story with Franco and his father Marius Lasoeur. Now you know who to blame.
Legendary director of predominantly sex-and-horror-based material, Spanish-born Jesus Franco had as many as 200 directing credits to his name. Trained initially as a musician before studying film at the Sorbonne in Paris, Franco began directing in the late 50s. By using the same actors, sets and locations on many films, Franco has maintained an astonishing workrate, and while the quality of his work has sometimes suffered because of this, films such as Virgin Amongst the Living dead, Eugenie, Succubus and She Killed in Ecstasy remain distinctive slices of 60s/70s art-trash.
Most of his films have been released in multiple versions with wildly differing titles, while Franco himself has directed under a bewildering number of pseudonyms. Actors who have regularly appeared in his films include Klaus Kinski, Christopher Lee and wife Lina Romay; fans should also look out for his name on the credits of Orson Welles' Chimes of Midnight, on which he worked as assistant director.