Wednesday, February 2, 2022




IMDB asserts that the English dub of this Italian jungle-flick calls the titular daughter "Luana," in emulation of the 1968 film of that name. I'll use that name for the character Sabrina Siani plays herein, though I couldn't swear that the jungle-girl, who only speaks gibberish and a few English words here and there, ever applies that name to herself. The two dopey guys who make contact with her at first call her "Jane" after the wife of Tarzan. Later they find the helicopter in which the girl's parents died, with a convenient diary. They figure out that she's an orphan turned jungle-dweller, and start calling her "Susan" in accordance with the diary's revelations.

There are various similarities and differences between the 1968 film and this one, starting with the fact that the first is set in Africa and the second in South America. Although the jungle-girl in both films is the selling point, both Luanas are fairly passive, and all the action is provided by the subsidiary male characters. However, in the sixties film, the male support-cast are a bunch of good and bad tough guys, and in the eighties one, it's Ringo and Butch, a couple of supposedly American college students. These schmoes get mixed up in fighting off a comical bunch of thieves, including one-eyed boss Dupree. a stutterer and a big guy with a high squeaky voice. On a minor note, though there are no man-eating plants in the 1982 flick, at one point the guys get caught in a net and one goof thinks they're being eaten by a Venus flytrap.

I'll pass over the details of how the two goofs find themselves lost in the jungle. It's of some modest sociological interest that, not long after the two wastrels start fantasizing about getting action in the naked jungle, they get taken in by a tribe of dark-skinned Indians, who immediately try to marry one of the guys to a lustful but homely woman. When the goofs refuse this honor, they're almost burned at two stakes. Dupree and his men accidentally rescue Butch and Ringo, intending only to use them as manual labor before killing them.

Butch and Ringo escape the raiders and stumble across the treetop house of partly-naked Luana, who apparently speaks the local lingo but lives apart from the neighboring tribes, accompanied only by a comedy-relief chimp. She does have an elephant she can call up with the usual jungle-yodel, but there's no indication that she has any special power over animals. Both girls try to seduce Luana, who ends up favoring Butch. However, she also gets a trifle violent, wrestle-tossing one guy to the ground, when they investigate the downed helicopter that Luana associates with her mostly forgotten trauma.

The wrestling-toss got my hopes up for another Sheena-type jungle-girl, but Luana isn't a real fighter, being easily overmastered by the thugs in Dupree's employ. She's apparently never seen a gun before, because when she faces down Squeaky Voice he simply shoots her in the leg. She never even summons her elephant to rout the bad guys; they're defeated rather when the college clods train the local natives to become a jungle militia. 

Director Umberto "Cannibal Ferox" Lenzi keeps up a steady stream of silly incidents, none of which are funny, but at least the film isn't entirely dull, particularly when the svelte form of Sabrina Siani is on stage.

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