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Thursday 5 March 2015

Burl reviews Jungle Heat! (1983)

The jungle ferns slowly part, and peering through… it’s Burl! Ha ha, hope I didn’t scare you! Today I thought I might review a jungle movie for you! It’s generally known by the highly generic title of Jungle Heat, which makes it sound like one of those flying bamboo sliver pictures like P.O.W.: The Escape or something!
But no, it’s a weird little genre mashup, evidently modeled on The African Queen, that was originally called Dance of the Dwarves – a much better title if you ask me, even if it’s complete nonsense! Ha ha! For there are no terpsichorean homunculi in the picture, just an uptight lady, a dipsomaniacal helicopter pilot, a wandering witch doctor and a bunch of lizard people! Ha ha! That makes it sound like a pretty exciting movie, doesn’t it! With those ingredients, you must be saying to yourself, ha ha, how could it fail!
Well, you know I don’t like to be overly critical in my little reviews, ha ha, but I do have to say that the picture does not live up to the promise of its components! The beginning augurs well, however, or appears to: a man escapes from prison and runs into the jungle, but suffers the indignity of having his face ripped off! Ha ha! Then we meet the uptight lady scientist, played by Deborah Raffin from The Sentinel, as she meets up with the sweaty, unshorn helicopter pilot, a role essayed by a sweaty, unshorn Peter “Spasms” Fonda!
John Amos from Die Hard 2 pops in now and again as a random witch doctor, but the overwhelming bulk of the picture is scene after scene of the two main characters bickering! It’s true that Fonda is a truly heroic souse, always drinking straight from his beloved square-shaped booze bottles like Uncle Red in Silver Bullet! But it’s equally true that the lady doctor is an intolerable scold! In short, spending so much time with these people is not enjoyable, and it’s a great relief when the lizard people finally show up!
Ha ha, but before that, we have a scene in which the doc shoots all of Fonda’s bottles so he can drink no longer! Fonda’s enforced program of sobriety comes to a climax when he literally kicks the bottle, if you can believe that! On top of this, the movie features more talk of Mazola cooking oil than might be expected from what is ostensibly an action/comedy/romance/horror picture! Even some of the characters get tired of the constant Mazola talk! “I spit on your mother’s Mazola! Ptoo!” says one exasperated bandito!
The creatures, when they appear, look like miniature Godzillas running around, or some humanoids from the deep that wandered off course! It’s mostly too murky to tell, but I think that the special makeup effects were not too bad, and it’s unfortunate that they were so blandly presented! On the up side, the bickering is not performed badly by Raffin and Fonda, and there are some amusing moments scattered throughout!
Too bad about the longueurs, ha ha! Still, I’m feeling generous, maybe because I have a soft spot for multi-genre movies like this! (Raw Force is another such picture, in case you’re interested!) I’m going to give Jungle Heat one and a half cans of Mazola!

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