Zan, King of the Jungle (1969)/ Trader Hornee (1970)
Both films feature city folk transplanted to the harsh jungle, both feature a jungle queen, both have evil duos doing dirty deeds to get rich, both are highly racist, both have men in gorilla suits, and both are ripoffs of earlier, more successful productions. Zan of the Jungle is obviously a Tarzan knockoff and Trader Hornee, a sexploitation sendup of the 1931 classic, Trader Horn.
Enjoy the shows!
Zan, King of the Jungle (1969) AKA Tarzan in the Golden Grotto
The film begins with a view of a Central American rainforest, an opening theme song by Marcello Giombini that would have worked well in a Spaghetti Western... and, of course, a yodeling Tarzan.
But remember: this isn't Tarzan - they couldn't afford the rights to the name for the US release, so they dropped the "Tar" and made him "Zan" instead. Zan, King of the Jungle is one of several Spanish "Tarzan" movies starring the great Steve Hawkes. (Hawkes made national news back in 2004 when one of his tigers escaped.)
The Jungle Queen's daughter (Kitty Swan) has been captured by a tribe of jungle natives at the command of two big city mobsters. They want to find the location of - you guessed it - the lost treasure. But she doesn't spill the beans.
Zan to the rescue. What's 30 spear wielding natives against an unarmed white guy in a loincloth? They don't stand a chance, and Zan picks them off with ease. (No idea why the mobsters don't just waste him, but that's neither here nor there.)
Zan delivers the unconscious princess back to her tribe. Turns out, they're Amazons and they live in a secret location deep within the jungle. The Amazon Queen informs Zan that they do have tons of treasure ("yellow stones") as the mobsters suspect, but only the queen knows it's whereabouts... and she shares its location with Zan, their protector.
Zan is shot by a mobsters' hired gun and left for dead. Thankfully, there's a talking parrot to call a local gold panner to Zan's aid. "Help! Follow me! Zan is hurt!"
I initially laughed condescendingly at the notion, but I'm a big fan of the Game of Thrones books (ASOIAF) and remembered the crow (Bloodraven) who's constantly cawing warnings. If it can work for the greatest fantasy books of the modern era, it can work for a 46 year old low-budget Tarzan movie.
Newly arrived to the small jungle village is Mary Sullivan (Krista Nell), a rich lady from Philadelphia who's come looking for her long lost father. The town's mayor, who also serves as the chief of police and hotel proprietor, is only too willing to help (as long as his palm stays greased).
The fish-out-of-water shtick provides for some comedic moments as we watch Mary deal with living far from the city in a snake-ridden jungle hotel. One memorable scene involves her being paralyzed at the sight of a snake, and a tenant casually blows the snakes head off. Comedy gold.
Meanwhile, the gold panner, Old Red, has nursed Zan back to health. As repayment for his kindness, Zan swims to the secret location of the Amazon treasure, battles a guy in a gorilla suit, and brings him back tons of gold.
Is that treasure really Zan's to give? I'm beginning to think it was a big mistake for the Amazon Queen to have shared the treasure's location with dimwitted Zan.
What's the first thing that Old Red does? He heads to town, announces that he's found gold, and buys everybody drinks, Naturally, this arouses the interest of the two mobsters.
Remember the Amazon Princess from the beginning of the film? Her mother has passed away, and she's now queen. Little does she know, the mobsters have killed Old Red, and rallied the jungle savages to attack her people.
The mobsters and their band of jungle tribesmen storm the Amazon fortress, basically killing everyone. They hold the newly crowned queen captive while they steal the map to the Amazon treasure.
Zan arrives too late. Everyone's dead, and all he can do is loiter about, shell shocked. Let's take a moment to pause and reflect at this juncture, shall we? I have a couple thoughts...
(1) This is all Zan's fault. If he hadn't presumed to steal gold from their secret treasure to give to Old Red, this never would have happened. Sure, the old Amazon Queen should have never revealed it to Zan in the first place, but how could she know he'd be so stupid?
(2) Amazons are clearly the worst fighters in the world. A couple mobsters and a tribe bearing wooden spears took them out in five minutes! A far cry from Wonder Woman's Amazons to be sure.
The mobsters find the treasure and get the gold, only to die in the end: one by quicksand, the other by Zan.
The ending involves the nearly pointless parallel story of Mary Sullivan (and her hunky alcoholic jungle guide) looking for her father (the now dead Old Red). Things are looking fairly bleak for these two until.... a bag of gold plops in front of them. A gift from Zan! Has he learned nothing from this mess?!? THE END
Trader Hornee (1970)
At the office of the Hoosier Secret Service Inc. Private Detective Service we find Jane Sommers (Julie Conners) on the phone with the bank. Initially worried the caller might be looking for money (the agency isn't apparently doing too well), she quickly finds that they are actually giving them an assignment!
Hamilton Hornee (pronounced "Horn" - the "ee" is silent) arrives just in time to hear the good news - they actually have a case. Hamilton lets the excitement get the better of him and nearly mounts his secretary - but Jane informs him there's no time for funny business; they need to get to the bank NOW.
The banker explains the task before them:
The wealthy industrialist, Mr. Matthews, and his wife and young daughter went on a safari in search of the elusive White Gorilla several years ago, never to return. The parents are confirmed dead, but their child, Prentice, was never found. The job: find Prentice and return her home; she stands to inherit the Matthews fortune.
Accompanying them will be Max Matthews (John Alderman) and his wife Doris (Luanne Roberts). If Prentice is not found, they will inherit the Matthews fortune instead.
Take note of the belly rolls. That would never fly in a movie today.
Finally, there will be two more members of the search party: (1) a journalist named Tender Lee (Elizabeth Knowles) and (2) famed zoologist Stanley Livingston (Fletcher Davies) to study the White Gorilla.
Finally, 20 minutes into the movie, the gang is in Africa. We're treated to lots of stock footage of cheetahs and hippos, and the conniving, money grubbing Matthews couple. Their goal: if Prentice is found, ensure she doesn't make it back to the States alive.
Jane wants to keep things profession on this trip, but Hamilton lives up to his name and will have none of it. Eventually, she gives in and afterwards they discuss a major plot point: The White Goddess.
There's rumors of a White Goddess in these jungles, and Hamilton connects the dots: could this be Prentice?
The search party is captured by cannibals.
At the top of this post I mentioned that both films in this Double Feature are racist. Zan of the Jungle for portraying the black jungle natives as complete idiots who easily are duped by the white mobster's smarts. But Trader Hornee is worse. Here the natives dance a jive in unison and basically act out every antiquated stereotype imaginable.
And, of course, they worship at the feet of a white girl...
Algona, the White Goddess, arrives. Another dance number ensues, but I'll leave my opinions on the racist nature of the film aside. Perhaps they are only poking fun at the genre (a la Blazing Saddles) and I'm missing the satire. Whatever the case, Algona has arrived, and I'm quite happy for it.
Hamilton is invited into Algona's hut to make whoopee. He tries to be faithful to Jane, but it's futile.
Algona is played by Deek Sills who was discovered working the counter at an adult movie theater in Atlanta by David F. Friedman. Friedman not only wrote and produced this film, but innumerable other exploitation films (Blood Feast, Ilsa She Wolf of the SS, Color Me Blood Red, The Defilers. Scum of the Earth, The Acid Eaters, to name a few).
After Trader Hornee, Deek Sills unexpectedly called it quits in the acting biz, never to be seen on screen again.
Next, Doris is invited into the hut. The conniving redhead tries to make it with Algona, but she doesn't swing that way and her advances are rebuffed.
Next up is her Max, her husband, who finds out that Algona (formerly Prentice) has a nice stash of gold. However, it's soon stolen by the White Gorilla...
...but the thief turns out to be a guy in a gorilla suit. Who is it? An escaped Nazi war criminal. WTF?
For saving her treasure from the gorilla, Algona let's everyone go - except Hamilton Hornee who stays with her... which is kinda sad, because Jane is one of the few characters I liked, and she leaves alone and sad.
Overall, this was horrible. Yes, there's a healthy dose of T&A to hold a guy's interest; however, it's not enough to counter the terrible jokes and vacuous plot. I understand there was a more explicit version released in theaters; perhaps that would enhance this mess a little, but I doubt it. Not recommended.