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Rated PG
Copyright 1986 Golan-Globus Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 27 September 2008

The Characters:  

  • Allan Quatermain - Richard Chamberlain! Not that it matters who played the main character. Every rugged male adventurer looks the same once you cover them with a safari shirt, khaki pants, and a short beard (optional).
  • Jesse Huston - Sharon Stone! She is doing better with this whole "wild Africa" thing. Now she only screams at half of the dead bodies and creepy crawlers.
  • Umslopogaas - James Earl Jones! Does anyone else think that "Umslopogaas" would be an especially fitting name for a female porn star who holds the record for the most wrangled in a single scene?
  • Swarma - Oh golly goodness, but I do not know if I am Indian, Pakistani, or the Swedish Chef!
  • Queen Nyleptha - The nice queen.
  • 5 Askari - Sing it with me! "Five Askari tribesmen in the canoe, five Askari tribesmen. One falls overboard, gets killed by a hopping hot mud worm, four Askari tribesmen in the canoe. Four Askari tribesmen in the canoe, four Askari tribesmen..."
  • Robeson Quatermain - What the heck were Ma and Pa Quatermain thinking when they named this boy?
  • Nasta - Mean little guy who wears part of a kudu on his head so that people will not notice his stature handicap. Everybody look at the economy-sized warlord! Drowns in molten gold (sounds painful).
  • Agon - Henry Silva has been visiting Dee Snider's hairdresser again. Doused with molten gold (also sounds painful).
  • Sorais - Sweet mother of gothic cleavage, it's Cassandra Peterson!

Buy It!

The Plot: 

After surviving their expedition to King Solomon's Mines, Allan and Jesse settled down to enjoy life in colonial Africa. Jesse shops for clothes, meaning that she writes letters detailing exactly what is needed, including measurements, then waits months for the package to arrive via train. Allan spends his time tossing objects into the air and shooting them. Oh, and he also is forced try on the "respectable" suits that Jesse orders from Savile Row in London (that are out of style by the time they arrive - not that Allan likes suits anyway).

Yet another pre-marital spat is avoided when one of Quatermain's friends stumbles out of the jungle with two strange men chasing after him (the bad guys wear white bags over their heads that cause me to think of the KKK, which is wholly inappropriate in this context). Allan fights off the pursuers, but they return later that night and murder the recently returned friend by strangling him with a mosquito net.

What? Why was there a mosquito net in the man's room? Have you ever been to Africa? You need a mosquito net. Heck, considering the size of the bugs there, you need chicken wire fencing and a mosquito net.

Before being killed, while suffering from a delusional fever, the friend tells Allan that his brother is alive, and that the pair found the legendary Lost City of Gold. Quatermain immediately starts preparing for an expedition to find his lost brother. This does not go over well with Jesse; the two of them are supposed to leave for America soon so they can get married. Forced to choose between marriage and braving poisonous reptiles, man-eating animals, and deadly traps, Quatermain wisely chooses the latter.

As you can imagine, Jesse is furious. She almost leaves for American anyway, but at the last minute the emotional young lady has a change of heart. If Allan is so dedicated to rescuing his brother that he is willing to lose the love of a beautiful woman, then Jesse wants her last name to be Quatermain, too.

Guys, women actually think like this.

What Jesse does not realize is that there are eight Quatermain brothers, and at any one point in time at least half a dozen of them are lost somewhere in the jungle trying to find a crystal skull, city of gold, diamond mine, or magical idol. If Jesse thinks that she is going to get married any time soon, she is gravely mistaken.

Joining Allan and Jesse on their expedition are Umslopogaas, a fearless (perhaps too fearless) warrior, Swarma, a greedy spiritual guru, and five Askari warriors. It is a natural reaction to feel pity for the Askari; there is no way that they had ever watched an episode of "Star Trek," so they have no clue that their own deaths are almost a certainty. The average expedition into the unexplored regions of Africa loses 50% of its members. Bringing along five Askari means that the four main characters are assured to survive, even if that 50% rule requires rounding up.

The journey to the Lost City of Gold is FAST. Holy cow, but it goes by quickly! Even crossing the massive Sahara desert is just one blip during the expedition montage. Blink and you will miss it (if you have seen the film and are wondering what I am talking about - them crossing the Sahara - you blinked).

Two Askari go to that big redshirt casting call in the sky when Swarma trips a trap that opens a pit under the road to the Lost City of Gold. Another doomed member of the party (Askari, go figure) bites it when savage Esbowe warriors attack the group. Lots of spears get thrown at Quatermain and his friends, but Umslopogaas deflects most of them by twirling his axe. The only spear that gets through hits Allan in the chest, and does nothing at all. Why is Quatermain unhurt? Well, he is wearing a fantastic mithril undershirt that turns aside the spear point; the hurled weapon does not even damage Allan's shirt! Seeing the white devil struck by their chieftain's spear to no effect freaks out the Esbowe attackers. They all start screaming, "Tee ball!" or something like that, which means they think the hero really is a devil.

The last two Askari are killed after the group paddles their canoes into a cave that leads to a subterranean river. One of the poor fellows is boiled alive, while the other is roasted by a fountain of fire. Quatermain saves the day by shooting the roof to cause a cave-in, which extinguishes the flames and swamps the canoe with muddy boiling water (nobody is hurt; I imagine that their rugged clothing protected them from the scalding hot water). Still, the main characters need to watch their step: the buffer of disposable Askari has been exhausted, and the floor is crawling with dragon-headed jumping worms.

Yes, dragon-headed jumping worms.

After all of that mess, Quatermain and his friends discover the Lost City of Gold. It is almost paradise; the inhabitants greet the new arrivals with friendly smiles and plates of fruit. Did you notice that "almost" I slipped in there? Yeah, well the problem with the Lost City of Gold is Agon. He is the civilization's spiritual leader, and one of his pastimes is dipping people in molten gold to create lifelike gold statues. Fortunately (for any citizens who Agon has been eyeing as works of art), Quatermain breaks the evil magician's hold on the populace and frees the city from what tyranny it suffered - which was quite a lot, come to think of it.

Robeson and Allan are reunited once the bearded hero finds the city. For the rest of the movie, Robeson follows his big brother around like some sort of faithful pet.

Sorais is also annoyed with Quatermain, but I think she must have been born angry; she always looks perturbed. She also never speaks, and that was a good choice, because Cassandra Peterson's accent would be horribly out of place coming from an "Evil Jungle Queen of the Lost City" persona. Voluptuous goth valley girl - sure. Evil jungle queen - no.

Rightly deposed and run out of town, Agon musters an army to take the city by force. The horde consists of Esbowe warriors, Nasta's flea-infested brigands, and Agon's own white-hooded enforcers. Shrewd as he is, the evil magician bribes Swarma into stealing Quatermain's pistol and mithril undershirt. So, that means that Allan and the normally peaceful inhabitants of the City of Gold are at a severe disadvantage. Few of the white-garbed pacifists have any experience with violence, and the best weapons available are farming tools.

What the Lost City of Gold has a lot of is well, gold. It is a little late in the game to use that gold to buy weapons, but Quatermain gets excited about the gold. Jesse triumphantly exclaims that they can make all the weapons they need out of gold. Um, a gold sword is not going to be all that effective. You should just carry the gold ingots to the top of the wall and drop them on the invaders. This is exactly what the peaceful people do with their incredible treasure.

The final battle is just awful. It just gets worse once Quatermain uses Umslopogaas' battle axe to melt the gold lion that sits atop the temple. The liquid gold flows off the side of the structure and pours over the attacking horde. Agon's hastily assembled army becomes a bunch of gold statues. I have no idea why Umslopogaas' axe melted the gold. I also have no idea why Agon did not bypass the city walls by using the secret passage that comes out inside the temple. Nasta and Sorais both use the passage. Agon and the army make a frontal assault, meaning they have to batter down the gates or scale the walls while the citizens of Goldtopia try to drop million dollar bricks on them.

This movie was disappointing and seemed horribly miscast. What was Robert Donner doing as a swami? Why did James Earl Jones deliver his lines in such a stilted manner? Was that Santa Claus, thin as we all know he is during the off season, who sold Quatermain supplies at the trading post? Where did Umslopogaas get that huge freaking axe? Why does Cassandra Peterson = cleavage? Really, try it out. Take any formula you want, and substitute "Cassandra Peterson" for "cleavage." The equation still comes out the same.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Plaid tweed suits are almost impossible to cut with a machete.
  • Ostriches are lousy watchdogs.
  • The biggest problem with running an outfitter business in wild Africa is building a customer base. Do not get me wrong, explorers are loyal customers, but only a handful of them survive and return to plan another expedition.
  • Snakes do not heel, sit, or "sic'em!"
  • Stalagmites can be a hazard to maritime navigation.
  • White girls cannot jump either.
  • Attempting to cut in is generally considered rude, except when the dancer's partner is a lion that is trying to chew their face off.
  • The battle axe is mightier than the backgammon table.
  • There used to be a whole tribe of James Brown impersonators.
  • Believe it or not, but there are times when having Cassandra Peterson sitting on your back could be called a liability.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 3 mins - Stop running from them; all they want to do is to give you a free copy of "The Watchtower."
  • 6 mins - Allan, your new jacket certainly blends in with the foliage.
  • 18 mins - "My problem is this: I am your fiancé, we are in Africa, and I am always dressed for a safari, but the audience has seen more fur, if you get my drift, than I ever will."
  • 29 mins - If they run into Jennifer Connelly I am going to die laughing.
  • 31 mins - Four Askari left.
  • 32 mins - Three Askari left.
  • 37 mins - Two Askari left.
  • 41 mins - I think that the special effects technician called in sick with food poisoning, so the caterer took over.
  • 43 mins - One Askari left.
  • 45 mins - I am sorry, but we are fresh out of Askari.
  • 57 mins - How did they end up in Parmistan?

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note aquatermain1.wav Jesse: "The men he was muttering about, Hudson and Treemont, who are they?"
Quatermain: "Old friends. They thought about adventure first and the danger second, always ready to go out at the drop of a legend. Apparently, they left while we were at King Solomon's mines. They were searching for a great lost city - a lost white race. My brother pestered me about it for years. It was a crazy idea, I told him; too damn dangerous chasing after just another improbable African myth."
Green Music Note aquatermain2.wav Swarma: "Will you, too, search for the city of gold?"
Quatermain: "I'll search for what's left of my family and friends. This lost civilization can keep its gold."
Green Music Note aquatermain3.wav Quatermain negotiates with the Esbowe chieftain.
Green Music Note aquatermain4.wav Quatermain: "Hey, Swarma, nice work. For a while I thought we'd end up in Cleveland."
Swarma: "Proof that only a fool questions the wisdom of Swarma."
Umslopogaas: "Proof that even a blind monkey sometimes finds a banana."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipaquatermain1.mpg - 4.9m
That is probably the toughest any man could look while eating an apple.

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