Friday, September 24, 2010

Dr. Jones, I Presume?: The Gold Lamé Age of KING SOLOMON'S MINES

In the interest of being excessively anal, we bring you a bird’s-eye view of what happened after the Golden Age of KING SOLOMON'S MINES. To be clear, obviously we love our '60s and ‘70s cinema, but even we just don’t have enough time to cover everything in one month. Hell, we started out with the plan of just doing "weeks" and you can see how that went!

After the success of MGM’s Academy Award winning KING SOLOMON’S MINES (1950) there were plenty of safari epics, but no one really went to plunder Solomon’s riches directly until 1959 when MGM decided to craft a sequel-slash-reboot titled WATUSI (aka THE QUEST FOR KING SOLOMON’S MINES) based on a screenplay by James Clavell. This time out it is Quatermain’s son Harry (George Montgomery) who is trying to retrace his father’s steps back to the fabled mines. Essentially a rehash of the original right down to trying to create that same sexual tension with a female in the wild but this time in a triangle. Of course stumbling across Umbopa’s tribe of tri-hawk/pompadour ‘fro sportin’ freaks, the witch and the mine are included as well. Notoriously padded with stock footage and churned out fast and dirty, this film has become increasingly rare. I'll give you one guess as to which '80s film prompted it's release on VHS. Man, how many suckers do you think they reeled in with that cover? Surprisingly they never got my three bucks, or if they did I successfully perfected my "Memoreez" serum that deletes memories that are too painful to relive. I’m not sure which.

In 1964 Piero Regnoli took a turn directing an entry in the staggeringly popular series of Italian sword n’ sandal films based on the legends of Maciste (aka Samson or Hercules) made from 1961-1965. Regnoli’s entry, MACISTE IN THE MINES OF KING SOLOMON (1964), had the conceit of having Maciste (Reg Park) captured and forced to work in a slave mine owned by the titular biblical king. The link to H. Rider Haggard is a little tenuous maybe, but Maciste interacts with native African tribes and saves everyone from the Mines of Doom. The movie showcases the usual male-bondage themes, so if you are into that sorta thing, this one’s for you.

In 1973, perhaps inspired by the success of Maciste, prolific Spanish director José L. Merino decided that Tarzan had done just about everything a dude in a loincloth in the jungle could do in front of a family audience and directed TARZAN IN KING SOLOMON'S MINES. He decided to have The Lord of the Jungle (David Carpenter, looking like he's ready to hit the waves after knocking back a few bongloads) drop in on an expedition to Solomon’s mines by Quat-erm, I mean “Stanley” (Paul Nashy) and the woman he’s helping out, Doris (the smokin’ hot Nadiuska, who also starred in the superb 1976 horror film THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK and went on to play Schwarzenegger’s mom in CONAN [1982]). This film can be found in Spanish, but is quite the rarity in an English dub.

Finally in 1977, the notorious Harry Allan Towers produced a mish-mash of both of Haggard’s Quatermain books titled KING SOLOMON’S TREASURE, directed by Alvin Rakoff (the man also responsible for the 1980 cult crapfest DEATH SHIP). A full review is forthcoming, but just to whet the appetite, here’s the ad that they ran in Variety. Looks amazing doesn’t it? Oooooooh, yes it does.

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