Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Quick Look: TERROR IN THE JUNGLE (1967 - color)

Warning, spoilers ahead.... 

   TERROR IN THE JUNGLE may well be the most bizarre jungle movie I've ever seen. The first couple of reels play out like a very cheap version of THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY, as a soap opera's assortment of characters (a wealthy-but-unfulfilled playboy, an up and coming actress, a woman who may or many not have murdered her husband, a singing trio, etc) board a plane headed for Rio. On the way, the plane mysteriously loses fuel and is forced to make a crash landing on the Amazon. Then the movie goes completely berserk! The survivors are hurried into the river before the plane can sink -where the entire lot of them is devored by crocodiles! Everyone is either killed in the crash, eaten, or blown up when the plane explodes! All, that is, except for one small boy traveling alone. The flight crew manage to place the boy in the safety of a coffin and set him afloat! The film now in a relative calm after the madness of the crash sequence, it manages some of it's most effectiveness here. After all, a small boy lost in the jungle ramps up enough instinctive suspense to keep us on the edge of our seats. He's eventually found by a tribe of savages, who by virtue of his blond hair they believe to be the son of their sun god, Inti! One of the natives, however, feels the child is dangerous and plots to have him killed -despite the rest of the village falling in love with the lad. Meanwhile, the boy's father assembles a rescue party to search for him. Back at the village, the hostile tribesman has managed to throw the entire tribe into bloody war over the boy! The boy escapes, but is chased by the native who hates him. In one of the most unexpected endings I've ever run across, the boy drops the stuffed leopard he's been clinging to the entire movie -which then transforms into a real leopard and mauls the native before he can kill the boy! They even show the leopard morph back into a toy! This is presented as an act of Divine intervention, and indeed there's a spiritual undercurrent running through this picture. Ultimately, it's pretty interesting for that point. Anyway, father and son are reunited and the picture ends. The cast is pretty stiff, for the most part (the only really notable name in the cast is that of Fawn Silver, who will probably be longest remembered as the substitute Vampire Ed Wood used in his nudie film ORGY OF THE DEAD), and the dialog is all over the place. The production values are also constantly in flux. It's a cheap movie, with mismatched wildlife stock footage (that stuff filmed in wide scope and thus presented squeezed much of the time), and some pretty dinky model work where the troubled plane is concerned, and amateurish camera work abounds. Still, the natural suspense of the situations keep one invested. Oddball little adventure movie, but when all is said and done, not completely terrible. It's certainly intriguing!

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