Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1986)
Pick a name actor. Richard Chamberlain. Sharon Stone. James Earl Jones. Cassandra Peterson or Henry Silva.
When I say pick an actor it’s in reference to which one you feel may be the most embarrassed by appearing in this Cannon Films release.
In the early days of the influential Indiana Jones films, studios were jumping on the bandwagon to come up with alternative films of the same genre. A good example for me has always been Romancing the Stone.
Cannon films chose to polish off the H. Rider Haggard Allan Quatermain character and produce King Solomon’s Mines. Choosing Richard Chamberlain to star they filmed this follow up concurrently with Mines which saw a release in 1985. Chamberlain plays the adventurer here along with the returning Sharon Stone from the first flick as his bride to be.
Since they were sufficiently embarrassed by the first film I won’t pick them from the five names above.
Time to cue the Indiana Jones styled soundtrack as we kick off our treasure hunt.
Plot wise this adventure takes our duo deep into African country. They cross mountains and desert dunes to find the lost city with streets paved with gold according to legend. Tagging along they have James Earl Jones wielding a large two headed axe as the appointed strongman and a terribly hammy Robert Donner as a swami of sorts who is not to be trusted. Jones gets a leopard skin get up and twirls his axe like an airplane propeller to fend off incoming spears from local native tribes. I could totally understand if he’s your pick for the most embarrassed actor on stage.
The F/X take a turn for the worst when our gang of gold hungry adventurers find themselves following an underground river with the worst back screen projection job this side of Bert I. Gordon. It’s not just gold that interests our lead hero, his brother has gone missing and Chamberlain has been following his trail through caverns infested with Muppet style monsters that nip at your ankles if Jones doesn’t behead them with his trusty axe first.
Upon arriving at the Gold City we find it’s ruled by not one but two villains. Without one word of dialogue we have an evil Queen played by Elvira: Mistress of the Dark herself, Cassandra Peterson. Just the fact that she has no lines let alone inept lines and looks stunning as always let’s her off the hook for the embarrassment score.
My pick for the most embarrassing performance in a role I am sure he would prefer was dead and buried goes to Henry Silva. He’s some kind of crazed madman in robes and the frizziest wig this side of Foxxy Cleopatra. Silva is a tyrant who is enslaving the city dwellers to mine the gold and has the most sensational look on his face as he dips many of the slaves into the melted gold to create instant statues. Not only that but the majority of his dialogue seem to be made up words that he constantly is screaming at the camera. Truly an embarrassment for the long time screen villain.
It should come as no surprise that Chamberlain and company will pick up the fight for democracy and put down the evil rulers. Sorry, did I just spoil it for anyone.
Hopefully the cast was well paid for this endeavor. But then this is a Cannon film so I have my doubts.
Perhaps if this was marketed strictly towards the kiddies then the promise of, “the adventure movie of the year” that the trailer belts out would ring true.
Sure I’m trying to poke fun here because this Gary Nelson directed flick just might be the life of the party if viewed with a group of friends who love to seek out great examples of bad cinema to get their kicks and have a few laughs. I’m just not so sure any of our leading actors would show up if extended an invitation.