Deadly Jaws (1974)
aka No Gold For a Dead Diver ….. and a half dozen other names in foreign languages including the original German title, Ein toter Taucher nimmt kein Gold.
From the outset, it’s the casting of Horst Janson that caught my eye when looking over a couple of box sets I have titled The Grindhouse Experience Volumes 1 and 2 for something odd to watch that I have yet to see. And believe me there are some oddities in those sets if you come across them including one I previously featured here titled The Shark Hunter that sees Franco Nero as a shark wrestling he-man.
For those not familiar with Hammer Studios, Horst Janson portrayed Captain Kronos : Vampire Hunter in the studios 1974 thriller that attempted to inject new blood into the studios fading popularity as gothic horrors became less inclined to bring dollars into the box office once The Exorcist and company set new standards in screen terrors. Here Janson is cast as a treasure hunter seeking a fortune in sunken Spanish/Aztec gold along with four partners including a couple sexy ladies who take to bikinis for a good majority of our story on the high seas portrayed by Monika Lundi and Sandra Prinsloo.
Bearing in mind the copy I have is dubbed into English, the track tells me that Janson, Lundi and Hans Haas Jr. have arrived in Mexico to make contact with a fellow hunter who has the all important treasure map that tells where the Spanish armada carrying what could be worth a billion dollars went down in 1542. The contact won’t make it past the opening credits when he’s knifed by the antagonist of our story, Marius Weyers. He doesn’t acquire the map but will work his way into the trio’s plans.
Our threesome have the map but no boat and are least of all professional divers. But Weyers is and wisely sends his gal Miss Prinsloo to intercept. She “happens” to overhear the trio going over their plans and a need for a diving instructor. No problem. She sets up a meeting with Weyers who has the needed equipment as well as a boat. He plays along with murder on his mind and states matter of factly that they’re after treasure and gets cut into the proceedings as does the lovely Miss Prinsloo if they want his help.
Time to leave port and let this drama play itself out as if we’re headed to the Sierra Madres.
Weyers is clearly plotting to let the trio find the gold and bring it to the surface then conveniently kill them all and maybe even Prinsloo as well. She and Weyers have a very contentious relationship. One that will turn violent once she begins to take a liking to Haas who is receptive to her bikini clad advances.
An octopus enters the plot via a large fish tank that had me daydreaming of the 1977 Tentacles. A flick that HAS to be seen to see what stars go thru to collect a paycheck. The poor fellow turns out to be a minor distraction once the men begin diving for gold hitting the jackpot in little screen time at all. Once the gold coins begin to accumulate the confrontations escalate between the opposing sides all while dodging sharks in the water. Gold fever is upon us. Janson and Weyers are clearly headed for a major clash but they’ll have to set their disagreements aside when modern day pirates who have been watching the treasure hunters close in armed to the teeth with the intent of taking the gold for themselves.
Good thing they have an armory of their own and a couple gals on board who won’t take a back seat to anyone when the battle starts. Yes the boys in the crowd will be treated to bikini babes toting sub machine guns when the gunfire goes into overdrive.
Who gets the gold? I’m not saying but being a predictable effort it shouldn’t take too much imagination on anyone’s part to wager a solid guess.
This proved to be an entertaining drive-in affair. It’s well filmed and looks beautiful. Might make for a nice restoration job if someone wants to put the money into it. Not familiar with director, Harald Reinl, I did a quick check here in the movie room and discovered I have seen a couple of his earlier titles, The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism from 1967 that starred Christopher Lee and the German crime thriller The Fellowship of the Frog from 1959.
Villain Marius Weyers is still active in the industry and you might even recall him from 2006’s Blood Diamond with DiCaprio. In 1980 he would reunite with Prinsloo in the cult hit The Gods Must Be Crazy. Janson was married to his leading lady Lundi at the time of this production and is himself still active in German television while his ex-wife appears to have retired from the screen at the turn of the century.
Give this one a look if you like that drive-in theater feeling provided you can locate yourself a copy. Funny thing about the copy I have in that Grindhouse set is it’s a German film dubbed into English and runs with what I think are Arabic subtitles. Proving once again I’ll give anything a shot. Even if the title is clearly meant to capitalize on the 1975 Spielberg film over here in North America once this one found a backer.