Back in 1959 director John Guillermin gave us the above average Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure. In 1962 Tarzan Goes to India. Throw in the big budget jungle fare King Kong remake of 1976 and it should only be logical that he be given the reigns to this female version of the Tarzan story where a beautiful scantily clad blonde fights for native rights and the preservation of animals.
As this was my first viewing of this multiple Raspberry nominated feature I was in for something of a surprise. I honestly thought it was a family adventure of the comic book variety. That all changed when our leading lady Tonya Roberts as Sheena takes a nude shower in a natural waterfall.
Roberts plays a young woman who has been raised by a mysterious tribal woman after her parents were killed in a spectacular cave in that is very effectively done by our F/X crew. Our female shaman sets to teaching Tonya how to communicate with the animals telepathically. It isn’t long before our blonde goddess has her very own zebra to ride as a cowboy would his horse.
Her ideal life living amongst the natives is about to take a turn towards violence and death when a coup involving the King occurs. He is murdered by his brother who promptly has a group of mercenaries at hand to push the natives off their lands for mining rights. Leading man Ted Wass, one and the same who’ll soon be teaching our jungle beauty the ways of love has some incriminating evidence that could dethrone our new King.
Tonya Roberts takes to the trees as she outruns our mercenaries and along with her furry friends of various species launches her counter attack to take down the evil regime.
This is one of those flicks that is probably hilarious if viewed with an audience looking for the so bad it’s good style of film. There’s no doubting it’s corny and the love scenes are downright embarrassing due more to the lines than the performances put forth by our on screen couple.
It’s a poor mixture at times of on screen violence and when I get lulled into thinking it’s a family adventure…… then there’s Tonya once again dropping her loin cloth to wash up down by the river unaware of how uncomfortable poor Ted Wass is feeling. Pretty good performance by Ted trying his best to look ill at ease if you ask me with a nude Bond girl parading in front of him!
Plenty of wild life in here from a painted horse looking like a zebra to the customary chimps and plenty of lions lying about while our actors do their thing in front of the cameras.
Despite the very Chariots of Fire(ish) soundtrack and the beautiful backdrop of Kenya, Sheena The Queen of the Jungle can’t hold a candle to the guilty pleasure that is director Guillermin’s next theatrical feature. It’s the 1986 sequel to his own 1976 guilty pleasure. King Kong Lives. As a viewing audience I guess we have become to hard to fool over the years. Jungle adventures of the “Me Tarzan, You Jane” variety are best left to to the great Tarzan adventures starring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan back in the thirties.