Monday, May 7, 2012

King Solomon's Treasure (1979)

Director Alvin Rakoff has directed two trashy, but very entertaining movies that I hold close to my cold and evil hear: City on Fire and Death Ship. He mostly directed for TV and these two and today's King Solomon's Treasure are three of those rare he made for cinema. A co-production between Canada and the UK but shot on location in Swaziland, like so many other movies related to the UK during the seventies (someone know why?). Maybe the least know and appreciated version of H. Rider Haggard's classic adventure novel, but with competent people both in front and behind the camera it's slightly better than the aggressive morons writing on the IMDB suggests.

Three British gentlemen, lead by the charismatic adventurer Allan Quatermain (John Colicos) travels to the deepest regions of Africa to find King Solmon's Treasure, which is a lot of gold of course. The two others are the mumbling Sir Henry Curtis (David McCallum) and the stiff military Captain Good R.N. (Patrick Macnee). Well in Africa they meet dinosaurs, giant crabs, a mega snake and the beautiful Queen Nyleptha (Britt Ekland) and of course a lot of bad guys who also want the gold!

This is a very cheap movie. Forget grand cinematography and big epic action scenes. Instead there's a lot of papier-maché, shaky handheld close-up scenes in the battles and very few actually built sets. Almost everything is there, for real. For some people this might be a let-down, but personally I like the grittiness that this is generating. It never feels big and expensive so the actors has to give it all to make it better and more exciting. The cast is very fine and seem to have a lot of fun. John Colicos is a great choice to play Quatermain. He's not young or "cool", he's looks like a middle-aged grey-haired blue-collar worker with more experience than sex appeal. And therefore also a lot more convincing. McCallum is the comic relief and do it without being annoying. Patric Macnee is excellent as usual, what to expect from such a veteran actor?

I always liked when filmmakers with a very small budget decides to don't give a damn about that obstacle and do whatever they want even if it looks the budget. This was obviously the idea behind this movie, because it has not less than four different kinds of rubber monsters! Neither of them convincing, but it's they're there! Instead of not showing anything we get a lot of monsters for little money. I prefer that instead of nothing. The coolest creature are the giant killer crabs, chopping their way through wood to get themselves some human flesh! They're stiff, hardly moving and very unconvincing, but they're doing their job and it's an excellent sequence.

The lost city, that Quatermain always finds in the end, is also just one tiny temple, made from Styrofoam and masonite, and crumbles like the best Peplum-city in the end during the traditional volcanic eruption. Not bad actually. It looks OK, and the destruction looks OK - and that's also the final opinion about this movie: OK. It's out on a DVD in Germany, a nice fullscreen print, and it's well worth buying for lost city-aficionados like me or just those who saw it as kids and wants to experience some good old-fashioned adventure romp!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool two adventures stories that I never heard about before....thanks.


I don´t know maybe...because its a former british colony...also remember south africa and the apartheid system....could be two reasons why so many UK films were made there.

I take it that you´ve seen The Wild Geese (1978)..?

That film was made in south africa in co-operation with the apartheid regime....there were big demonstrations at the premiere according to IMDB....