Treasures of the Amazon (1985) — The real treasure is the playful animals

“Remember that women have a pact with the devil. But don’t worry, because we have no women here.”

Justin’s rating: Brought to you by the Amazon Rainforest Species Stock Footage Society

Justin’s review: One of those weirdly specific movie subgenres I’ve never found any enjoyment with involves teams of people rushing to get some sort of treasure or prize before their competition. Usually there isn’t much of an actual narrative to these, just various happenstances involving greedy and selfish jerks. Can’t imagine why filmmakers keep thinking this is a rich field to mine, but almost invariably disappointment follows.

This same disappointment prefaces every frame of Treasures of the Amazon and then shows up after that frame to lock up. This is a movie that, despite coming out in 1985, looks and sounds like it was constructed in 1957. It’s also a movie that doesn’t so much establish a story as lazily ambles in the direction of one. But hey, it’s got Donald Pleasance as a Nazi, so it’s no wonder that Burger King had Treasures of the Amazon collectable kitchen glasses for an unfortunate eight-month stretch in ’85.

For some reason, three separate groups of foreigners are converging upon some fictional country in the Amazon to go on a gold hunt. Why they all think that there’s gold here and why in this same place, I have no idea. Pulling information out of the dialogue of this movie is like listening to a drunk ramble over a bottle of Jack. The “why” doesn’t matter, I suppose, because it’s just an excuse to chuck a bunch of cannon fodder into the jungle in hopes that the Predator shows up to play.

Place your wagers, boys and girls, and pick your favorite team! Your choices are:

  • A love triangle of dorky American grave robbers which includes a woman with the worst Southern accent you’ve ever heard.
  • A former Nazi concentration camp commandant who is single-handedly trying to revive the Third Reich through jungle treasure. Plus his topless native wife.
  • Gringo, a surly madman whose previous expedition ended in a whole lot of shrunken heads.

Equipped by the most repulsive polygamist you’ll see this side of Utah, the three groups head out into the rainforest in search of the Emerald City or somesuch. It’s a pleasant outing, as long as one is willing to overlook the hostile natives, the voracious quicksand, swarming piranha, gators, adorable deer, and — naturally — flesh-eating crabs.

You would assume that having three groups to follow would require any filmmaker to keep things focused and cohesive. It’s a good assumption to make. Not really applicable here, though, as various things keep happening to various people and we have no clear idea where anyone is in relation to each other. The only thing that unifies all of them in my mind is that I wanted all of them to meet a grisly end as soon as possible so that this film could be over.

Despite the title of this movie or the various recognizable elements in this, Raiders of the Lost Ark this is not. For that, we’d need an actual main hero, a connected plot, actual excitement, and more than one Nazi. No, this is what Raiders might be if viewed through the lens of someone who had less skill, a smaller budget, and an overinflated opinion of what could be accomplished with three gallons of fake blood. And I guess that has an odd appeal for what it is if you, like all of these characters, aren’t quite right in the head.

Didja notice?

  • So this is based on real facts. But set in a fictitious country. Way to send mixed messages.
  • This pilot really has a thing for running down birds
  • This guy is real finger choppy
  • Guy just ate a spider. That’s going to haunt me.
  • Gratuitous sand wrestling and beach bathing
  • SHUT UP ABOUT THE CUSTOMS DECLARATIONS
  • You need the largest flaming log ever to ward off bats
  • Randomly firing rifles when scary noises happen is a good general practice
  • Women like it when you compare them to intelligent dogs
  • 45 minutes of animals doing animal things unrelated to this film

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