Color, 1978, 79m.
Directed by Carlos Tobalina
Starring Nina Fause, Bill Cable, Carol Bombard, Annette Haven, Jose Ferraro, Kathie Kori, Loren Ferretti, Candida Royale
Vinegar Syndrome (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
One of the most ambitious (though not proficient) fillmmakers from the '70s theatrical adult film boom had to be Carlos Tobalina, a genre-mashing madman who turned out such oddball curios as Refinements in Love and the epic-length Marilyn and the Senator. However, none of his previous work really compares to the ramshackle extremes of Jungle Blue, a bonkers ode to classic Hollywood adventures with Tarzan and his imitators that announces its agenda in its opening seconds with a woman getting busy with an actor in a furry gorilla suit.
At least partially shot on location in Peru, the film veers wildly between that audacious (though incredibly anti-erotic) spectacle and some semblance of a plot about a couple of unscrupulous criminals, Susan (Fause) and Hank (Ferretti), posing as a botanist and a pharmacist as they go down the Amazon looking for some lost emeralds supposedly held by a local tribe. On top of that, pretty Jane Royce (Bombard) is looking for her missing dad, and they all wind up with a guide in the form of vine-swinging, tree-climbing Evor (Cable). The jewel thieves turn out to be ruthless murderers as well, leading to some violent plot twists (seriously, the body count in this film is insane) and lots of sex.
Released theatrically by Tobalina's Hollywood International Pictures, Jungle Blue has been ridiculously hard to see ever since apart from a VHS release in Europe (which turned up on a handful of download sites, looking pretty awful). The heavy amount of pseudonyms doesn't help things either, with the opening credits simply scanning over the poster(!) to run through most of the performers. Perhaps the most unusual participant here is the late Bill Cable, starring here under the name "Bigg John" (with John Holmes most likely used for his tacky hardcore insert shots); a very busy model at the time, he was the live-in companion of Elvira (a.k.a. Cassandra Peterson), with whom he did a famous erotic photo spread, and went on to mainstream roles in Pee-wee's Big Adventure and, most unforgettably, the icepicked rock star in the opening of Basic Instinct. (Cable also starred in Tobalina's earlier Last Tango in Acapulco, also complete with a body double.) Also returning is Senator star Fause, who looks blank as usual, while Annette Haven and Candida Royale turn up for a big hotel room orgy that interrupts the action every few minutes to pad out the running time (and features a couple of uncomfortable-looking locals). Of course you also get some amazing dialogue like "You know, we should really get a little bit more comfortable and start undressing and taking some clothes off," so it's all good.
The film itself is about as silly as you'd expect, about on par with softcore predecessors like Tarz & Jane, Cheeta & Boy thanks to the abundance of Peruvian wildlife footage and crazy monkey love. It's also wildly colorful, an aspect finally evident in the Vinegar Syndrome DVD that also marks the film's American video premiere. The film has been kept in great condition, and it's really all good news here. It's complete, the jungle foliage looks as lush as you might hope, and the ragged insert footage still looks like exactly what it is. The sole extra is the theatrical trailer.
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Reviewed on May 3, 2014.