The production company of Golan-Globus
was a prolific film entity throughout the 1980s.
However, even though it produced a good number
of pictures, few if any can be considered enjoyable.
Most, in fact, are fairly sore on the eyes, unless
you are the type that likes to laugh at bad films.
the troubled cinema think tank that provided audiences
with Cyborg, Enter
the Ninja, The
Delta Force, and a slew of laughable installments
in the Death Wish
franchise. (Note to readers: The original Death
Wish is a great film not affiliated with
Regardless of this dubious
remained afloat and apparently saw enough success
in their adaptation of King
Solomon’s Mines to follow it with a
sequel two years later. Once again mining H. Rider
Haggard’s tales of Allan Quatermain, Golan-Globus
produced and released Allan
Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold.
The parallel to the Indiana Jones series in the
title is obvious. The producers shrewdly made
sure that they adapted a work with Quatermain’s
name in the title just as Lucas and Spielberg
did for Indiana
Jones and the Temple of Doom,
to capitalize on the popularity of the main character
and make sure that audiences knew what the film
The film opens with Richard Chamberlain
and Sharon Stone reprising their roles as Quatermain
and Jessie. The movie begins with promise. There
is a more serious tone to the picture as compared
to the first film. One of Quatermain’s friends
is found feverish in the jungle, ranting and raving
about a lost city of gold. Strange natives murder
him, and Quatermain wonders if his younger brother,
who went on the expedition, is still alive.
Determined to find him, Quatermain sets out into
the dangerous unexplored Africa with Jessie, an
African warrior friend played by James Earl Jones,
and a mousy Indian priest. From there, the film
plummets downhill quickly.
But before I get into that,
it’s time for a quick history lesson. 1987
was a dark year for Golan-Globus.
They produced a series of mega flops that included
the film adaptation of Masters
of the Universe, Superman
IV: The Quest for Peace,
and the film reviewed here.
All three of these films share common traits.
They suffer from deplorable special effects, sub
par even in films from three decades before. The
production value is jaw-droppingly low. The plots
of these films are inane and sloppy. I have seen
all three of these films in recent years and Allan
Quatermain and the City of Gold
is by far the worst of them all, and that’s
As confused as the original film
was, it shines when compared to its sequel. Once
again, we are subjected to one contrived action
scene after another without any decent pacing.
If that’s not frustrating enough, scene
after scene contain either a major technical flub,
pages of contrived dialogue, or some of the most
distractingly inferior set pieces you will ever
see, or all three at once.
We’ve all seen errors on screen, even in
the Indiana Jones films. Remember the reflection
of the cobra in the Well of Souls before the DVD
version erased it? Do you recall Indy’s
pistol switching from a revolver to a .45 and
back again during the Ravenwood Bar fight? These
are forgivable flubs, often unavoidable in the
editing process or due to technical limitations
regardless of the exhaustive effort put into the
Indiana Jones films.
Now let us examine this Allan
Quatermain film. The earth splits open in one
scene in what could have been a cool death trap,
but alas, the black plastic mattress is shining
up at us, clearly visible only a few feet below
as a stuntman hits it squarely. I was under the
impression that the bottomless pit was a special
effect perfected back in the films of the 1930s
like King Kong.
There is a brief moment in this scene with a disgusting
reveal of one of Quatermain’s old adventure
buddies, now a rotting corpse, vaguely reminiscent
of Indy finding Forrestal in the Peruvian Temple.
Later, Quatermain and his companions hang on for
their lives as their canoes fly uncontrollably
through an underground river. All the while, every
character is surrounded by a bright blue halo.
Now, while blue screen composites had not been
perfected in the 1980s, a small black line was
fairly typical and acceptable. A bright blue halo
was not only unacceptable, it could be achieved
only if the lighting on the subjects was poor.
These are the worst blue-screen effects I have
even seen in film.
A few of the shots in this scene
are process screened, but watch closely and you
will see the background scenery jump and change
suddenly. Why? Because the background material
had run to the end and started over from the beginning
again. Usually, they would cut that and take it
over again. Not here. The makers of this film
have to be the most negligent filmmakers alive.
In some shots, our heroes row the canoe backwards
and in others, unconvincing puppet miniatures
double for our boating heroes. Every stuntman’s
wire harness is clearly visible in every shot
throughout the film. These technical flubs are
so jarring they cannot be ignored. Can the story
make up for this? In the case of Indiana Jones,
"Yes." In the case of Allan Quatermain,
Quatermain and his companions,
after escaping a cave filled with massive man-eating
rubber grubs, puppet bats, and a random lion,
stumble upon a lost city of peaceful people that
resemble flower children of the 1960s. They appear
to live at an existing museum or outdoor shopping
mall that has been modified to weakly resemble
an ancient city. The childlike people are ruled
by an evil religious despot who believes in human
Here are the pale parallels to
Indiana Jones. This Mola-Ram-like cult leader
worships a lion god and sacrifices people by lowering
them into a pit of molten gold via a double-door
opening in the floor of his temple. Underneath
the temple, he has enslaved people to dig the
gold for him in a set that looks like the Wal-Mart
version of the mine in Indiana
Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Interestingly, the theatrical trailer of the film
provides a glimpse of some Indy-inspired sequences
that were cut from the movie itself. In the trailer,
there are shots of Quatermain using a bullwhip
stolen from a guard to disarm an evildoer in a
rickety wooden elevator over the molten pit and
fight off a series of baddies on a staircase.
The rest of the film is as dismal
as the setup. Ridiculous supporting characters
and dialogue make it impossible for Chamberlain,
Stone, and Jones to retain a shred of dignity,
though they look like they are trying really hard.
It’s a shame too, because Chamberlain does
look cool in some scenes in the beginning with
all his gear on and Stone is as beautiful as ever.
(Also, see if you can spot Cassandra Richardson,
now famous as vamp television hostess, Elvira.)
In an ending too fantastic to be
believed, and too contrived to be laughed at,
Quatermain finds a way to climb atop the giant
golden lion head on the temple roof and, using
a battle axe, continually catch bolts of lightning
out of the sky and smash them via the axe into
the lion head. The lightning heats up the gold
and sends it down on the despot and his evil army
in molten liquid form, killing them all.
So in the end, Quatermain saves his brother and
the lost city and I am left with questions. "Did
the British really develop a silk-thin shirt during
World War I that
could stop spears and swords?" "Why
didn’t the evil despot just move out of
the way when he was pushed into the trickle of
molten gold?" "How many lions is Quatermain
going to kill in this movie?" "What
is James Earl Jones doing in this film?"
"Why wasn’t Quatermain electrocuted
by the multiple lightning bolts coursing through
him?" "Why would Quatermain leave his
pistol and bulletproof shirt just lying around
for the despot to steal?"
These are questions only a logical
movie could answer. Alas, this film is not one
of those. In the film, Quatermain says, "I
have seen some amazing things in my life, but
nothing can compare to this." I agree Quatermain.
I have never seen a film this amazingly terrible,
filmmakers so amazingly negligent, nor a story
so amazingly thoughtless. Stay away, adventure
fans. Stay away. (MF)