Full Moon Grindhouse Releasing
Moon are doing a terrific job of releasing rafts of films I have
absolutely no interest in seeing, particularly those of a Puppet
Master / Gingerdead Man hue. Their Grindhouse
off-shoot is rather more interesting, though meanders wildly across
one of film’s laziest pigeonholes.
Zambo is a particularly odd choice, a jungle
romp with not a cannibal nor a naked girlie in sight. It comes
complete with the seemingly ever-present disclaimer that the film
‘really is the best we could manage to make it look’,
on the off-chance any viewer might expect better than we do get
– a reasonable-looking video rental standard pic.
Convict, George (Brad Harris star of the Kommissar X
films and most of the worst Hercules efforts), jumps the train
to jail, manacled to a fellow prisoner and heads into the jungle
to spare himself being shut away for a murder he didn’t
commit DONCHAKNOW. After 25 minutes his co-star is dying of hunger
and foolishly eats a leaf (a leaf!) only to vomit copious amounts
of mushy peas. Oblivious, George declares ‘they’re
saved!’ by finding a coconut tree with two coconuts on it.
Upon noticing his dead friend he vows to avenge him, or something,
he’s annoyed anyhow.
Enter stage left, a tribe of the best groomed savages you’ve
ever seen in your life, who quickly declare him, ‘Zambo,
King of the Jungle’ after he dispatches some South African
slave traders with confusing Australian accents. Think of the
scene in Return of the Jedi with C3PO and the
Ewoks but more racist. ‘I not kill cos he is peoples’
friend’. No, really. The accents range from ‘owz
yer farver’ to Terry Thomas and all points in between, sometimes
just for one character. I gave up trying to work out who was dubbed
and who wasn’t.
In the time it takes to grow a beard, George is at one with the
jungle and the creatures there-in, including 1972’s least
convincing gorilla. Some very gentle action follows with Zambo
solving inter-tribal marriage difficulties; ‘Let them
get married and let’s have a feast!’ he declares
to much celebration, presumably with that remaining coconut in
Attempting to cover peplum-type action, King Solomon’s
Mines and gritty moralising, it thrashes around like
an aggrieved giant trout and misses all the intended bases by
a country miles and bravo for that. You’ll recognise Daniele
Vargas from dozens of 60s and 70s films from Kiss Kiss
Bang Bang to The Arena and Gisela Hahn
from Contamination and Devil Hunter
as they stumble around the Tanzanian and Ugandan foliage until
they realise ‘maybe we all live in a jungle afterall..?’
It’s a thought..