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Treasure of the Amazon - VCI Entertainment - DVD Print E-mail
User Rating: / 4
Written by Jay Creepy   
Monday, 06 July 2015
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A.K.A.: Greed, Amazonin aarre, Les diamants de L'Amazone, Skarby lowcow glow, Il tesora dell'Amazzonia, Sokroviwa Amazonki, Das Geheimnis des blaun Diamanten

Directed by: Rene Cardona Jr.
Written by: Rene Cardona Jr.
Produced by: Rene Cardona Jr.
Cinematography by: Daniel Lopez
Editing by: Earl Watson
Music by: Mort Garson
Special Effects by: Sergio Jara
Cast: Stuart Whitman, Donald Pleasence, Bradford Dillman, Sonia Infante, Emilio Fernandez.
Year: 1985
Country: Mexico
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1h 45 min

Distributor: VCI Entertainment

I suppose we're used to the Italians hiring a couple of big movie B-Movie actors and throwing them into a mix with loads of dubbed extras and a knock off script, which has probably been written the very day of shooting. However, with Treasure of the Amazon, a rare little gory adventure flick from the mid-80s, it's the Mexicans who do us the honour of that tried and tested formula -- with some stock footage from documentaries thrown in for good measure.

I think the words 'cult movie' were originally coined for such gems as this. Pointless and random, but all the same very watchable and enthralling.

Treasure of the Amazon is apparently based on 'actual events' from 1958, and we're straight in with some chugging music, as a battered tramp steamer goes along the river whilst endless long shots of jungle critters entertain us as the credits roll. The music, the grit, and the sheer cheek promises action, adventure, maybe some blood, and Donald Pleasence!

Aside from Mr. Pleasence, the budget stretched (after a few cut backs on effects, etcetera) to include a few faces which you feel you know from here and there, including John (Waxwork II, Salon Kitty, Satan's Cheerleaders) Ireland in a short role as a man simply billed as 'Priest' and Bradford (The Enforcer, Piranha, The Swarm) Dillman. However, central role and performance is given to Stuart Whitman as sweaty bearded chubby, Gringo. I like that! Cast aside the younger more handsome cast members because maybe they won't survive, and make the worldly Gringo our hero! Stuart, by the way, is the star and support of a lot of forgotten movies dating from the early fifties.

Before I carry on, it's worth noting that this is one of the last in the career of Emilio Fernandez -- the throat slitting guy in The Wild Bunch, underused in a supporting role unfortunately.

My God, the tramp steamer is still going on its journey with that music playing! The first thing we have is a sleeping Gringo as a thieving native man sneaks over to his belongings, trying to be a smart tea leaf. The native pays with a finger, sliced off by the quick moving Gringo. “No one robs anything from me!” he slurs and a brief fight ends with the native overboard and meal to a few waiting alligators. The boat is stopped and the others try to save him, shooting the 'gators. However it's the piranhas which win their food instead. The steamer continues onward.

A discussion arises between two fellas about the knife wielding man. “Oh, that's Gringo the damned, or Gringo the madman.” The story goes that he set off years ago into the Amazon looking for treasures with five friends, only to return with the five shrunken heads of his pals in a sack.

Meanwhile, we meet Clark and some other dude placing bets in a small land plane, if they can chop a bird in half. They miss it and touch down, discussing how a man could easily get lost in the rain forests. Cue documentary animal abuse for exploitation values only, then cut to Barbara -- the third member of Clark's party. They're digging and searching for diamonds or whatever comes up really. Now Barbara, played by Ann Sidney, is the obvious main sex appeal character, yet her voice is this terrible grinding parody of Texan or New Orleans, I dunno. She's dressed in slutty leopard skin 'Jane' gear home on a Cramps album maybe. She's talking to a spectacled fella about I don't know what, the plug's going to be pulled on their project I think -- basically I was writing at the time, I'm in this for the action! Hehehe.

Some of the men on the boat are gold hunting. Two wish to team-up with Gringo, who knows the region better than any other person on board. They also believe he knows where gold is based. “You fuckin' idiots! You think if I knew I'd be trading trinkets with the Indians?” They don't looked too convinced.

Cut to big name, Donald Pleasence as Klaus von Blantz, a Nazi who's stereotypically looking to find a fortune to re-establish the 3rd Reich. To help him on his quest is Morimba, a topless lady who I suppose is a tracker. At this point we wondered if the movie could have maybe benefited from one or two less characters, since most aren't really structured (I know that's not the point in a film like this, but it's a case of rush person after person out which gets rather frustrating after a while). Anyhow, Klaus and Morimba run into a Marlon Brando type, living with a lot of topless women. His name is Tacho, played by the prior mentioned Emilio Fernandez. The point to everyone who crosses his path is that anything discovered in the Amazon is subject to government taxes (in other words, don't rip this guy off because he has a few warrior men at his command). Most of the characters pass by him to be told the same thing.

“What we found is crystallised carbon!” says Chuck to Barbara, and they also found some possibly human bones. She then treats the two men to a rather embarrassing drunken dance in their makeshift home.

The steamer arrives at a village. Gringo and the men watch a ritual mud fight as Priest explains the history of the tribe and their warriors. Then topless native girls splash water around. Klaus turns up aiming a gun at Gringo who has had dealings with him in the past. Really, nobody likes Klaus at all in this movie. Gringo knows the fact Klaus was a big man in a concentration camp, because he's a badder guy than we imagined. This possibly inspires Gringo to team up with the other two. “What made you change your mind?” Gringo sneers, “I did, that's all you need to know!” As Klaus sets off, Gringo reveals that he knows a quicker route.

Off they head down the river with 'Injun' helpers. They spot a wild eyed Donald Pleasence glaring at them from a ridge up above, whilst he rides the same direction. Gringo then tells his comrades what they're really looking for in the jungles, “A river of diamonds the size of your eyes!” Cue dramatic zooms on their faces and eyes with music. Soon after, we have a flashback scene to his original doomed attempt and a cool rubber head sliced off.

Klaus is out to betray everybody and everything, including Morimba, Gringo and his new friends are slowly falling out with each other, Barbara has a terrible voice -- you know where this one is going.

Trying to mix an up-tempo boys own adventure feel, with graphic gore is an uneasy mix. It feels like a cool pulp novel. Predictable settings, very predictable characters.

I don't quite get the idea that this is an Indiana Jones knock off, other than for marketing value, because it's a whole different concept altogether. Meanwhile, the gore is plentiful: eye gouging, hook in a tongue, sliced throats, severed heads, animal abuse, it's all here! Also watch for a show stopping Fulci style crab attack. Director Rene Cardona Jr., who was a workhorse director of around one hundred movies, uses the locations wisely and gives the film a nice feel.

The DVD quality is poor visually, but the audio is fine, aside from one or two random jumps in the soundtrack. We don't mind the quality to be honest, it's a cheap DVD that isn't trying to be special.

Donald Pleasence is underused, wide-eyed, and other than a huge shoot out with a tribe towards the end, doesn't do much. He didn't seem all that bothered about the movie. Also, this film contains the longest slow motion death scene I have personally witnessed, from a simple shot to the throat which takes an eternity to digest.

There's not much going on extras wise, other than trailers for other 'adventure' movies like Guyana: Crime of the Century. All said and done, 
Treasure of the Amazon is a worthy DVD if you get it for a decent price. It’s watchable and amusing.



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 Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
 Region: NTSC R0
 Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

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