Randall (Deceased) & Schlock Work … INVADERS OF THE LOST GOLD Reviewed

BD. Severin. Region Free. Unrated.

Although he worked on the sound of Werner Herzog’s Arthouse milestone Aguirre, Wrath Of God (1972) and produced (also appearing in) the great Mario Bava’s Four Times That Night (1971), Dick Randall (known to his Mom as Irving Reuben) is best remembered for putting together a succession of schlock classics like Around The World With Nothing On (1963), The Wild, Wild World Of Jayne Mansfield (1968), The Bogeyman And The French Murders (1972), Frankenstein’s Castle Of Freaks (1974), Queen Of Sex (1977), Joseph Velasaco’s chop socky-meets-mad science epic The Clones Of Bruce Lee (1980) and Juan Piquer Simon’s jaw-dropping Spanish giallo Pieces (1982) until a stroke felled him in London during 1996. When the box office impact of Raiders Of The Lost Ark became apparent (like a Spielberg / Lucas collaboration was going to flop!) Randall and former Happy Days writer Bill James rattled off a treatment based on the ongoing urban (jungle?) legend of Yamashita’s gold (i.e. purloined bullion stashed in some remote cave by a Japanese general during WWII). Nor did it take much longer than that for Randall to assemble a cast of fading stars / young hopefuls… and to direct them, how about Alan Birkinshaw (Confessions Of A Sex Maniac, 1974… Killer’s Moon, 1978)? Yeah, he’d do. Fly ’em all out to the Filipino sets and locations of Apocalypse Now, leave them to goof around with a camera for a few weeks, eh voila… Invaders Of The Lost Gold, aka Greed (on account of the film’s familiar, Treasure Of The Sierra Madre-styled plot mechanics) and Horror / Cannibal Safari (presumably in an attempt to consolidate its appeal to die hard Laura Gemser fans).

Gemser, looking rather fine in (and of course out of) army fatigues and a pith helmet, spends most of her brief jungle sojourn competing with Glynis Barber (fresh from the Blake’s 7 quarry as a last minute replacement for Britt Ekland, who bailed when the budget dipped and her fee with it) for the attentions of Stuart Whitman, looking well past his sell-by date (Christ knows what a fanny magnet he must have been in his prime!) When not working out imaginative new product placement wheezes on behalf of J&B Whisky, Whitman’s pursuing some kind of ongoing feud with Edmund Purdom. Action men Woody Strode and Harold “Odd Job” Sakata are along for the ride (such as it is). When Purdom told Sakata and his old army buddy that their commanding officer had died, the latter committed hard kiri (Purdom sat reading a magazine while he did it). Sakata signed up for the gold hunt, which on the surface seems like a smarter response but ultimately proves just as fatal, as the expedition members are variously whittled down via snake bites, crocodile attacks, clumsy falls, spiky booby traps and (in Laura’s case)… your guess is as good as mine. At least Gemser gets in a good skinny dip before succumbing to whatever the fuck it is that kills her, but this time there’s no voyeuristic, cigarette smoking chimp (a la Emanuelle And The Last Cannibals) to testify to what happened. One thing is clear… somebody’s aiming to keep all that loot for themselves.

With head hunting tribesmen, grisly eviscerations, shoot outs, bar room brawls and endless scenes of exotic Filipino dancers strutting their collective stuff, this one’s a shew in for the shelf of any self-respecting trash collector. If you move fast enough, you’ll get a slip case which reveals what the principal sleeve art doesn’t, i.e. an artist’s impression of Gemser’s boobs. Put your hand on your heart and tell me that this prospect doesn’t stir your loins. Kindly keep your hand offa your loins, though, while I’m talking to you…

Bonus material comprise two featurettes. The first is an interview with director and Mel Collins lookalike Birkinshaw (above), a self-deprecating and rather endearing fellow with plenty of tales to tell about his cast, the extraordinary Dick Randall and the production of Invaders. His main beef seems to be about its poverty stricken post production, which afforded him no opportunities to fix the poorly filmed croc attack, the mystifying demise of Gemser’s character or, for example, the weedy fight scene in which Strode and Sakata become embroiled… handbags at ten paces doesn’t begin to cover it! That’s followed by out takes from Mark Hartley’s Tagalogsploitation documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010), featuring further Birkinshaw revelations and an astonishing audience with his producer’s widow, Corliss Randall… wow, what a woman! No wonder her husband featured her in so few films, I can see how he was keen to keep her to himself!

In an age where we’ve learned to live with lavish Al Adamson and Andy Milligan anthologies, what price a Dick Randall box set? Dave… Carl… we’re looking at you!

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