Amazonia (1985)
By: CJ on October 4, 200  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Italian Shock (Holland0. Region 2, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0. Dutch Subtitles. 90 minutes
The Movie
Director: Roy Garret (Mario Gariazzo)
Starring: Elvire Audray, Will Gonzales, Dick Campbell, Andrea Coppola
Screenplay: Franco Prosperi
Country: Italy
AKA: Schiave Bianche: Violenza in Amazzonia; Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story
This late entry in the 'jungle' cycle of Italian horror films claims to be based on a true story. The film is often called The Catherine Miles Story and tells of the titular character who, for her 18th birthday, travels from London to the Amazon to spend it with her wealthy parents.

Once there she and her parents take a trip down the Orinoco River with her Aunt and Uncle in tow. Things are going nicely until they are unexpectedly ambushed by local natives of the Guanira headhunter tribe who fire poisonous darts at them, which causes paralysis. Whilst immobile the natives decapitate the parents and carry Catherine back to their tribe. They also take along the heads of her parents as trophies of their conquest.

Back at the village she becomes the property of one of the tribesmen, which doesn't make Umukai (another tribesman who has taken a liking to Catherine ) very happy. The two fight in a ritualistic tribal battle and Umukai emerges the victor and so Catherine is passed to him instead. Umukai treats her well, but she will not accept any kindnesses from him because she holds him responsible for the murder of her parents. Time passes and Catherine and Umukai, with the help of a young girl who can speak limited English, learn to communicate with each other. Catherine soon learns that the Guanira were paid by her Aunt and Uncle to kill her parents and ensure that she herself never returned so that the inheritance would pass onto them. Understandably angered by this, she coerces Umukai to take her to the family home. He is reluctant, but agrees nonetheless. Upon arriving she discovers that her Aunt and Uncle have moved in and taken control of the family estate. With calculated rage she bursts in upon them as they sleep and fires the paralysing darts at them and then bloodily removes their heads with an axe.

Throughout the film there are flashes forward to Catherine's trial for the murder of her Aunt and Uncle and at this point the film again returns to this and reaches its conclusion.

Roy Garret's (Mario Gariazzo) film isn't really the best that the genre has to offer. His handling of the subject matter seems rather clumsy and a bit muddled. It seems that he can't decide whether it's to be an exploitational jungle movie, action adventure or serious drama. There are just too many conflicting directorial styles at work here, which does not serve the story well. He his certainly nowhere as adept with this material as Deodato or Lenzi would have been.

The crime-scene footage, which was supposedly real, is obviously fake, and this is just one of many moments in the film where Garret flounders. The gore, though plentiful in places, is just too unconvincing to provide any real shocks and Garret proves himself incapable of delivering what is required to make this an effective slice of horror cinema.

An interesting story but ultimately disappointing.
Presented in fullscreen the image is bright and reasonably sharp but seems to have been taken from a very worn source. There are lots of scratches in places and throughout the film the image is prone to jittering, which I found irritating. Considering the fine job Italian Shock did with New York Ripper this is a big let-down. The colours and flesh-tones remain consistent throughout, but this does not make up for the other faults that are present within the transfer.
The sound is adequate and is certainly nothing special, but it gets the job done. The dialogue is perfectly audible and the music doesn't sound too bad either. But considering the film, this is just about acceptable.
Extra Features
Considering this is supposedly a true story I would've expected more extras than Italian Shock have provided here. There must be a wealth of news items, press clippings etc that could've be researched for this. But there's not even the merest hint of background information behind the origins of this film. All that's on the disc are three trailers (one each for The Smuggler, Nightmare City and Amazonia), a picture gallery and a filmography. Immensely unimpressive.
The Verdict
A not-too-brilliant film on a none-too-impressive disc. Of all the Italian Shock releases so far, this is definitely the worst. For die-hard fans of the 'jungle' genre only. And don't expect any cannibalism as there isn't any. Not even the merest suggestion of intestinal munching.

A disappointment.

Movie Score
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