Thursday, February 11, 2010

King Solomon's Treasure

(Alvin Rakoff, 1977)
There's dumb and then there's stupid, and this movie offers you plenty of both. While H. Rider Haggard purists (I know you're out there) are sure to bemoan the flashlight-eyed crab monsters and a viking ship whose figurehead appears to be a twenty-foot chicken, I strongly suspect that the worst elements are the most faithful to the original, namely the nagging racism that keeps interfering with the camp. On this journey to the dark continent's lost Venetian kingdom, the natives aren't even individuated in slaughter - even Ken Gampu's grinning sidekick ends up taking an arrow for massa. We are also asked to empathize with the tragedy of Britt Ekland's fiefdom being forced to open their doors to non-Aryans, including a crazed voodoo priest who's no more of a 'character' than the other Africans even though he's supposed to be the main villain of the piece. Sure the flashback framing device points frantically to an intentionally antiquated serial approach, but if they thought this would earn them a pass on the retrograde colonialism they were just wrong. It's really too bad because in and of themselves the gaggle of British colonials are quite hilarious, with enough rapport to actually enliven the agonized, shticky script. David McCallum's stuttering twit earns a special prize - almost as entertaining as the guy in the fan-lizard suit.

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