Jungle Warriors seems to have been knocked out purely because of the need to cash-in on the success of Chained Heat (1983), but this time executive producer Ernst R. von Theumer felt he could handle the directorial chores all by himself, with Robert Collector co-writing the thin screenplay that sends a troupe of ‘internationally known’ models and their entourage into the arms of a drug cartel.
Now, JW isn’t wholly a Women in Prison [WIP] film because a penitentiary isn’t the centre of the drama. At best, it’s part of a sub-genre of Women in Jungle Prisons [WIJPs], which as ridiculous as it sounds (oh, it does), is unique and different from White Slavery [WS] films, and White Slavery in the Jungle [WSITJ] films.
But we digress.
Story A has a Mafia kingpin being tracked by U.S. feds at a South American airport; Story B has said Mafia kingpin Vito Mastranga (John Vernon, once again whoring himself purely to touch boobies) travelling to an isolated jungle fortress to negotiate a drug distribution agreement; Story C has South American drug lord Cesar Santiago (no-neck, corpulent Paul Smith, still creepy after playing the brutal Turkish prison guard in Midnight Express) and his half-sister wiping out interlopers and competitors in the jungle; and Story D (for ‘duh’) has a troupe of models flown to some exotic jungle locale as yet to be determined by their idiot producer Larry Schecter (Marjoe Gortner, reportedly a replacement for Dennis Hopper, who was arrested prior to filming for being ‘unlawfully chemically intoxicated’).
When Larry demands pilot Ben Sturges (Kai Wulff) land in Cesar’s territory to shoot pretty pictures by a pretty waterfall, Cesar has a helicopter shoot down their plane for trespassing. Ben safely lands the craft before it explodes (offscreen), and the troupe trek their way through a non-bug infested jungle and cross a river infested by sloth-like alligators, only to encounter the evil traps and bullets used by Cesar’s lead henchman Luther (played by a generally silent Woody Strode) and his sickos.
One character is piked by a homemade trap, and the model troupe (Get it?) are taken to Cesar’s lair – a massive Spanish garrison that’s been converted into an evil compound, with dungeons and fearful Spanish speaking locals. Ben tries to save one of the girls during a makeshift dinner with Cesar and sister Angel (Sybil Danning, who’s only seen naked once, when Smith massages her bare bum-bum), but he loses his head in one spectacularly sudden decapitation scene.
Angel then gets to work and has Luther’s men mass rape the girls, including Ben’s closet lover - the model’s matron, Joanna Quinn (Nina Van Pallandt). When Mafia kingpin Vito arrives, one of the girls reveals herself to be an American agent, and drums up latent strength among her trapped brethren, making them ready for a breakout, signal for help, and fight to the death.
During the film’s finale, virtually everyone dies, including Vito’s right hand man Nick Spilotro (Alex Cord, prolific B-thespian, and master of squinty-eyed dialogue delivery), but not before he saves a model with whom he once bedded during his salad days. Many models manage to survive, not just aiding the alerted American federali (led by veteran character actor Dana Elcar) in bringing down Cesar, but using a secret spell to reformulate the clothing previously torn to shreds during the mass rape-out.
The locations are exotically beautiful, the Spanish garrison gives cinematographer Nicholas Josef von Sternberg (yes, son of Josef von) lots of elements to deliver nice compositions, and the cast is comprised of familiar faces, of which the lesser-known are dispatched quickly because their roles were limited, and they probably cost von Theumer extra money.
Roland Baumgartner’s serviceable score is neo-Tangerine Dream, but von Theumer ruins whole music cues with abrasive shot and scene edits, rarely letting any cue bleed into another scene after playing just a few bars. The vocal tune which bookends the film ranks as one of the worst songs ever written, with Marina Arcangeli singing rubbish lyrics about ‘heat’ and being ‘in heat’ and ‘needing heat’ like a whiny teenager whose larynx transplant from a baboon still hasn’t sufficiently healed.
Both Vernon and Danning had appeared in von Theumer’s Chained Heat (1983) with Linda Blair, as well as Louisa Moritz, whose appearance in JW is similarly brief. (This time her demise stems from a large snake that felt threatened by her heaving bosom in the jungle moonlight.)
Collector would co-write and direct Red Heat (1985) for von Theumer, a true black & blue WIP film with better writing, direction, and editing. Pity he didn’t commandeer the directorial reigns away from von Theumer’s hackish hands, although von Theumer reportedly took over directing chores after dumping Billy Fine, producer of Chained Heat, and the lead influence who convinced Blair to make her first foray into WIP-hood.
Panik House’s transfer is superior to the Canadian VSC edition, and includes a theatrical trailer. (The VSC edition sported a French dub track.) Sadly, there are no new extras beyond a brief Mr. Skin intro. The title would’ve benefitted from an essay or commentary, shedding some light on the multi-national cast, production factoids, and how the film was received, given its nasty content is less indulgent than von Theumer’s other WIP films.
This title is part of Panik House’s Mr. Skin presents Women in Prison set, featuring Chained Heat [M] (1983),Red Heat [M] (1985), and Jungle Warriors (1984), and improves upon the transfers of the VSC release.
© 2011 Mark R. Hasan