WEREWOLF IN THE AMAZON COLLECTION
- RELEASE DATE: Available Now on DVD (Click Here to Purchase a Copy)
- WRITTEN BY: Various
- DIRECTED BY: Ivan Cardoso
- STARRING: Paul Naschy (at least in one of the films)
-Reviewed by Daniel XIII
Sitting down to watch the WEREWOLF IN THE AMAZON COLLECTION I had absolutely no fucking clue who Ivan Cardoso is; but after watching all four films on this collection I can safely say; he’s a glorious madman that directs some massively off-kilter fright flicks! Let’s go through the films contained in this collection one by one, and you’ll get the basic idea of what I mean…
First up is THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY (1982); ostensibly a film about a professor named Expedito Vitus who searches for the cursed tomb of the mummy Runamb, but is in actuality a clever test initiated by the distributors of this collection as a way to gauge your endurance level for the lunacy that follows over the course of this set. If you turn of ol’ MUMMY there’s no way you’re going to make it through three more insane-o features.
To complete the aforementioned goal of locating the final resting place of Runamb, our hero must assemble eight pieces of a map, which he does, and then he gets the shit-hot idea to resurrect Runamb…who of course goes on a murderous rampage. Seems prosaic enough; but the presentation is anything but. The film is a constant barrage of stock footage, pilfered music cues, horny nonsense, threadbare production design…hell, half the time the film can’t tell if it wants to be in black and white or color (at first I thought it was denote flashbacks…but that doesn’t hold true…). It’s like Ed Wood moved to Brazil and just kept right on doing what he did…I half expected an inebriated Criswell to pop out of a sarcophagus at any moment.
With its disparate elements of a multitude of scantily clad (or not clad at all) babes, silly comedy, and antiquated horror elements (there’s a Universal vibe running through this thing) THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY is as enjoyable as it is cheap. There’s always something nutty going on, and you will never be bored that’s for sure. Plus there’s a scene of full on muff diving…yup.
Next up is THE SEVEN VAMPIRES (1986) a film that within 2 minutes of run time sets up a plot involving a meat eating monster plant, shows off some stock footage of Alfred Hitchcock, then presents the raunchiest synth score ever committed to film under its opening credits. Well; at least this release is consistent.
As the film rolls on, we see that plant mentioned above go on a blood drenched murder spree, and to give credit where credit is due, the puppet utilized for the deadly foliage is really rad ass! But, the brunt of the film is spent following some bumbling detectives investigating a vampire crime spree committed by a masked assailant. Along the way we also get a time wasting stage show featuring a Chinese magician (looking like he stepped straight from a Sax Rohmer novel) and Dracula (here we go again), another Grade-A chunk of runtime elimination with a 1950’s style musical number featuring the Brazilian equivalent of Paul Reiser on vocals, and of course that hoary ol ‘chestnut; naked chicks. And yes, that monster plant does figure into the rest of the film as well.
Continuing with the formula that made THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY so much fun, THE SEVEN VAMPIRES delivers with plenty of monster action, low-rent laughs, and tons of naked flesh. It should be mentioned that as crazy as this film is; it’s light years more competent in technique than THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY.
Moving on we have THE SCARLET SCORPION (1990). Opening with a boatload of stock footage the ol’ SCORPION is off to a typical Cardoso start; but that’s about the only thing typical in this outing as Ivan chooses to tell a superhero yarn instead of the usual horror biz.
In THE SCARLET SCORPION we are treated to the adventures of Batman surrogate The Angel (he’s the alter-ego of a millionaire playboy and everything) as he battles the evil forces of the sinister Scorpion across many adventures…all of which play out via a radio drama in the 1950’s (though we see the action presented in the style of an old movie serial). Fisticuffs, narrow escapes, and surprising number of titties ensue (yup, in a film that you think would be cool for the whole family, Ivan tosses in a ton of nudity…well played good sir, well played)! Before long, the characters from the serial seemingly appear in the real world as fantasy becomes reality…there’s also that Cardoso trademark; a musical number padding out the run time…and of course, a striptease.
THE SCARLET SCORPION is flat-out fun; with its pitch perfect (minus the mammaries) recreation of the movie serial and radio drama aesthetics, and colorful period setting, this film is a flat out winner; and is definitely my favorite in the set unless the last feature is fried gold…speaking of which…
The final feature is the eponymous A WEREWOLF IN THE AMAZON (2005). Worried ol’ insane-o Ivan may have missed a beat by that late production date? Let me assure you there are boobs displayed within the first five minutes…and just dig on this far out synopsis; legendary fright flick icon Paul Naschy, who usually stars in films as werewolf Waldemar Daninsky, appears here as Dr. Moreau (?!!)…who also happens to be a werewolf (double ?!!) and is making an army of mutants that are equal parts beast and human. Well, imagine the chaos that ensues when a group of young folk happen upon the madman as they come to the Amazon to search for a powerful hallucinogen! Drugs are ingested, cheap sets are walked through (repeatedly), and musical numbers are sat through (yet again).
While it is by far the most technically proficient of the films presented in this set, and the spirit of the Universal horror classics is invoked once more (thanks in no small part to Naschy channeling Lon Chaney Jr. for his portrayal of Moreau/The werewolf) it is nevertheless my second favorite flick of those presented…that damn SCARLET SCORPION is just so good!
While none of the films in this set are presented in crystal clear remastered quality, I wager you won’t give a jolly god damn; as the overall surreal madness of each piece will consume you, and having a good time will be impossible to resist!
Still not convinced that this release is worth every penny? Well consider that all of the outrageousness listed above takes place over the course of two discs…but a third disc is included in this collection! Featuring over an hours’ worth of bizarre shorts from ol’ insane-o Ivan (be forewarned, there is what looks like an actual chicken death in there…definitely not my bag), an hour long film comprised of a shit ton of stock footage from World War II as well as the director’s past work, and trailers for THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY and THE SEVEN VAMPIRES.
Minus that bit with the chicken; this set is a real hoot; and is a must for any lover of absurdist surrealism masquerading as a fright flick (or serial yarn)!