Trader Hornee (1970)
By: Liam Ronan on June 30, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Siren Visual Entertainment (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.66:1 (Non-anamorphic). English DD 2.0. 83 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Tsanusdi
Starring:Buddy Pantsari, Elisabeth Monica, John Alderman, Lisa Grant, Brandon Duffy
Screenplay:David F. Friedman
Music: Billy Allen
Tagline:The film that breaks the law of the jungle!
Country: USA
In a time when Big Brother presents male and female nudity on prime time national television and the likes of American Pie can make gags for the mainstream about swallowing semen and masturbating with musical instruments, this infamous 1970 sex comedy from exploitation supremo David F. Friedman has lost much of its bite. But it's still a sleazy curio with a strangely endearing charm all of its own.

Down-at-heels private investigator Hamilton Hornee ("The ee's are silent") and his voluptuous assistant ("Come blow your horn!") are hired by the local bank to locate Algona, a girl who went missing in the African jungle twenty years ago and who has since become heiress to a vast fortune. Joining them for the trip are a bunch of perverts and drunkards who either spend their time bitching or shagging. Hmmm, it's more like Big Brother than I thought…

They're all here for this one – a couple of S&M freaks (one played by sometime porn star John Alderman) who are out to disinheirit Algona, a bisexual journalist who accepts the advances of a fellow female explorer with the line "I haven't done this since high school," and an anthropologist who takes time off from orgies with young teenage girls who call him daddy to seek out Nabucco, the mythical white ape rumoured to lurk deep in the jungle.

And what a jungle! Not since the dusty scrubland jokingly touted as a rainforest in Cannibal Terror have I seen such dodgy doubling-up. This time it's the turn of some picturesque Californian woods complete with several deep ponds to allow the female cast members to strip off and playfully frolic in the cool waters. Every so often a few stock shots are thrown in of hippos bathing, lions roaring etc. but nobody will be fooled into thinking that Friedman actually shelled out money on making this film!

Eventually, the explorers are captured by the Meshpoka tribe and tied to stakes (the S&M lovers are in hog heaven at this point) to await the arrival of the 'White Goddess'. They pass the time by wondering if Algona is still alive. Duh!

One surprising aspect of the film is the way it plays with your preconceptions – as soon as you see the Meshpoka tribesmen wearing bones through their noses and sprouting 'ugga bugga'-type gibberish, you can't help but wince at the apparent racism. But then they send the whole thing up by breaking into some Vegas-style cabaret entertainment and jive talk. Another scene features black porters eating (groan!) watermelon. As one eats the seeds and splutters "I ain't never eaten this shit before!" his companion smiles and says "This sure is the biggest pomegranate I ever ate!" The degenerate white characters are depicted as the real savages - somehow I doubt that Friedman was making any great social statement here, but it touched me all the same. Sniff…

Useless trivia: Director Don/Jonathon Tsanusdi went on to work on some major Hollywood blockbusters including Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and TV shows such as The Dean Martin Show. But deep down, you just know he's most proud of Trader Hornee.

By the way, keep an eye out for David F Friedman's jaw dropping cameo as a bar room thug!
Video
For a little-seen 70s drive-in flick, the print isn't bad at all. Some of the colours are a little washed-out and there's the odd touch of print damage here and there, but it all somehow lends itself to the overall sleazy atmosphere of the film.
Audio
A decent Dolby Digital Stereo soundtrack. This probably sounds as good now as it did when it first went out on grindhouse screens more than 35 years ago.
Extra Features
Like most Something Weird releases, the extras are scarce, but fun. It's called a featurette on the menu, but what you get is basically a looong trailer for the film that serves as an ode to Friedman's marketing and exploitation skills (a cast of thousands? Thousands of what?).
The Verdict
Imagine a Carry On film with more explicit swearing, dirtier jokes, lots of blotchy female flesh and the likes of Sid James going stark bollock naked and you won't be far off. Any film where even the stock footage animals get throwaway puns isn't going to win awards for sophistication, but Trader Hornee never pretends to be anything other than good silly adult fun – and it is.
Movie Score
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