Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rimba Panas (1988)

...aka: Jungle Heat

Directed by:
Ratno Timoer

Not to be confused with at least three other films with the same name from the 80s; the 1983 one involving a tribe of reptile-men and originally filmed as DANCE OF THE DWARFS, the 1985 Hong Kong production about POW prison camp atrocities or the barely-seen 1988 Cynthia Rothrock vehicle. This one's a Filipino/Indonesian co-production that falls into both the cannibal-shocker horror and lighter jungle adventure subgenres. As of this writing, it's not listed on IMDb and has never been released in America, though an English-dubbed copy surfaced on video in Greece which seems to be the source print for the bootlegs out there for sale. Despite being sourced from VHS, the print quality isn't too bad and the film (regardless of some horrendous and highly annoying dubbed dialogue) is fairly well made, kind of fun and surprisingly gory at times.

A couple of guys in the jungle fight over some precious stones and end up shooting and killing each other. Back at their base camp, a native tribe attacks and kill everyone there with spears and arrows and take a baby girl named Jessica back to their village. Many years later, a tough cookie named Lola (Alba Fuad) gets her hands on a diary and map detailing where a valuable treasure is hidden. While she gets together a team of people for a jungle expedition to be headed by Peter (Peter O'Brian) and his buddy John (Johan Saimima), some thugs overhear her talking about it, kidnap her and take her deep into the jungle. Once there, Lola manages to escape, while a cannibal tribe get their hands on her abductors. One guy is cut up and fed to a tiger. Another is decapitated and eaten raw. The ringleader - Nick (Didier Hamel) - manages to save himself by demonstrating a gun to them.

Meanwhile, Lola lucks out that Peter and John have both come to the area looking for her. The two men locate her and they resume their treasure hunting as planned, but wreck their canoe over some rapids and end up in the hands of a tribe. Lucky for them they don't end up with the cannibal tribe, but instead with a mostly peaceful tribe that includes a now-grown, blonde and statuesque Jessica (Debbie Young), who spends much of her time running through misty fields in a thong and taking slow-motion swims while pan flute music plays. Peter takes an instant liking to Jessica (now named "Mazizi"), but a tribal warrior (who already has four other wives) also wants her, so the guys must fight mano y mano for the honor of the jungle babe. Eventually, a bunch of jewels are located in a cave and brutish Nick shows up with the rival cannibal tribe to fight for them.

Similar in some ways to Jess Franco's dreadful WHITE CANNIBAL QUEEN (1980), but a bit more fun and enjoyable than that one. (How could it not be?) The presentation of the natives and their village are more convincing (no pudgy caucasians in sight!), the locations are better and there's bloody, brainless action going on much of the time to distract you from how stupid the whole thing is. I knew nothing about New Zealand-born lead actor O'Brian going into this one but apparently he has a small cult following for playing "Rambu" in the 1986 Indonesian action flick THE INTRUDER. The man playing Albert (Jessica's father) in the opening sequence is none other than Charles Kaufman, the brother of Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman and director of the semi-famous bad taste shocker MOTHER'S DAY (1980). He was over in Indonesia making JAKARTA (1988) when he took this small supporting role. Advent Bangun (a star of THE DEVIL'S SWORD, from the same director) and Piet Burnama (JUNGLE VIRGIN FORCE) co-star. PETA warning: Some real animals (namely boars) are actually killed in the film.

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