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23.3.09

Invaders of the Lost Gold (1982)



aka Horror Safari

Director: Alan Birkinshaw
Starring: Stuart Whitman, Edward Purdom, Laura Gemser, Woody Strode, Glynis Barber, Harold Sakata
Rated R Running time: 83 minutes
Released by Crash Cinema



This super cheap, Philippines-lensed quickie from Dick Randall lured me in with its poster, which depicts a nude Laura Gemser (Emanuelle in America), a group of gnarled Sgt. Rock-types, a piked skull and a Japanese flag. Combine that with a title that Randall's lawyers figured Spielberg couldn't sue over, and it's not really clear just what the hell kind of movie this is. But you know it has to be awesome, right? It starts well enough, with a platoon of WWII-era Japanese soldiers battling it out with some loinclothed natives. Spears and arrows fly, heads get lopped off, and the retreating soldiers stash a crate full of gold in a cave.

The trouble begins when we zip forward to modern (well, 1982 modern) days and the action shifts to Rex Larson, played by Edward (Pieces) Purdom. Larson is trying to locate the hidden treasure that was hidden years earlier. He meets with a couple of Japanese men who, presumably, are privy to the treasure's location. I say "presumably" because logic and continuity are not among director Alan Birkinshaw's strong points. Anyhow, we establish the fact that Larson is a first class a-hole who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the treasure. One of the soldiers kills himself, Larson shoots another, but the third (Harold "Oddjob" Sakata) agrees to help Larson find the gold. Larson calls up his friend Douglas Jefferson (David De Martyn) and gets him to fund the expedition. An all-star cast is selected to take the journey: Jefferson's hot blonde daughter, Janice (Glynis Barber); tough bodyguard Cal (Woody Strode); booze soaked jungle guide, Mark Forest (Stuart Whitman), and a couple of Mark's trusted jungle companions, Fernando (Junix Nocain) & Maria (Gemser). After what seems like an eternity for all of these people to get together, they hop on a boat and away we go!

It's not clear if these people know each other or not; sometimes there seems to be a connection, sometimes there doesn't. Normally this wouldn't matter, but Invaders of the Lost Gold never comes close to duplicating the excitement of the opening scene. In other words, there isn't enough going on to distract you from the film's choopy script, sloppy direction, and non-existent continuity. Instead of splattery action, we are treated to a drawn out whodunit as each cast member is knocked off, usually by being pushed off a cliff or fed to plastic crocodiles, by a "mysterious" killer. As long as you didn't sleep through the first twenty minutes, you should be able identify the culprit. So much for suspense. There are a few highlights -- Laura Gemser's skinny dipping scene which ends in her completely unexplained death, some of the funniest and most inappropriate dubbing you'll ever hear, and a stripper-packed bar scene near the beginning. Apart from a decapitation early on, gore is almost non-existent.  The film seems like something Randall threw together with a pile of old film stock and some actors who were cheap and available. It's unfortunate that such a good cast and a great location could be squandered so badly.

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