This endearingly kitsch jungle exploitation flick comes from Amando de Ossorio, creator of Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971) and several other, occasionally inspired, Spanish horror films. A turn-of-the-century prologue opens in the fictional African state of “Bumbasa” (in reality a wildlife park situated near Madrid!). Tribal dancers shake along to voodoo rhythms while a witch doctor lashes a captive white woman (Barbara Rey) till her clothes fall off. Whereupon he rapes her - whilst somehow continuing to dance! - before she is beheaded at the sacrificial altar. As the tribesmen and women bathe in her blood, British soldiers charge in and gun them all down. Suddenly the dead woman’s severed head sprouts fangs and shrieks at the viewer!
Fast forward to the mid-Seventies where Professor Jonathan Grant (Jack Taylor), spoiled socialite Liz (Maria Kosty), nosy photographer Carol (Loli Tovar), big game hunter Rod Carter (giallo regular Simón Andreu) and his mixed-race girlfriend Tunika (Kali Hansa) are on safari investigating a shortage of wildlife in the region. Tensions run high between Liz, whose father is funding their expedition, and Tunika who suspects the flighty blonde will try to steal her man. Fur trader Tomunga (José Thelman) warns them the area was once a stomping ground for zombies, witches and voodoo, but that doesn’t stop Carol poking around the jungle after dark. Sure enough, Carol is caught, beheaded and joins the throng of crazy-haired, leopardskin-bikini-clad vampire girls that stalk the explorers while jungle drums pound through the dead of night.
Night of the Sorcerers draws from a well of clichés already run dry by old Tarzan pictures, but has a garish Seventies comic book innocence that lifts it above the likes of, say, Cannibal Ferox (1981). Notably the fact all the women venture on safari wearing sexy Seventies fashions. Are a tight miniskirt and babydoll dress really sensible jungle attire, Carol and Liz? To be honest, the campy treatment is all that renders the fundamentally racist fantasy palatable. De Ossorio may have sought to make some kind of anti-racist point by having one character make a wisecrack about Tunika’s parentage, but his mixed race heroine comes across as childish, callous and petulant, while the African characters are caricatured bogeymen. Characterisation is muddled throughout, with Liz denounced a “spoiled child” even though she shows more compassion for the imperilled characters than Tunika, who thinks they should clear off and leave victims to their grisly fate. Meanwhile, dim-bulb macho men Grant and Carter bicker their way from one mess to another and Tomunga inexplicably turns from helpful guide to would-be rapist. Adding to the unintentional hilarity, Tunika has been dubbed with a bizarre cod-Swedish accent (“Vatch out for zose zoombies, Rood!”).
De Ossorio brings his familiar spooky touch to scenes where zombies crawl out of their graves and cannibals cavort around piles of skulls. By the far the most enjoyable aspect are the leopardskin bikini-clad vampire women, as Barbara Rey and Loli Tovar prance around the jungle with demonic glee.