Movies From the Black Lagoon


By Tom Doty

A gaggle of super models take on the mob and a South American drug lord in this action extravaganza ,a joint effort from Mexico and Germany. All you have to do is make it through the opening credits. The challenge is not grinding your teeth into nubs during the excruciating theme song(Feel the Heat) as it is screeched by Italian pop star Marina Arcangeli(who sounds like a sick cat trying to pass a kidney stone).

This one starts with a dandy of a sequence (at least the song stops)that sees a covert gang infiltrate and destroy a drug operation. Turns out these aren’t heroes but soldiers for the local kingpin, Santiago. It’s a text book raid that is perfectly orchestrated by Santiago’s top mercenary, Luther. He’s a bad dude who’s just like that guy in the back of the elevator who had a hot tamale for lunch-silent but deadly!

Turns out this camp was a mob operation . Santiago has just sewn up the cocaine trade in the region prompting the mafia to send their big kahuna ,Vito, down south to negotiate a new deal . Vito opts to bring a small army and his nephew, Nick(who rocks Armani suits and a killer 70’s moustache).

Meanwhile a team of underfed models are also arriving to shoot a layout in the South American jungle. They are a are a nice bunch but their hungry egos make them ripe pickings for their leering agent, Larry. He’s a bit of a buffoon who is prone to telling war stories that he probably read in Men’s adventure magazines.

Thinking that the C.I.A. is out to break his new found stranglehold on the drug trade Santiago gets edgy. His paranoia leads to ordering his men to shoot down a small aircraft. This strands the models in the jungle but Larry steps up and actually disarms two goons. Unfortunately his new found pride causes him to take his eye off the ball and he immediately stumbles over a trip wire and winds up impaled on a Malaysian rake.

The models are subsequently captured. Their pilot, Sturges, tries to step up and look out for them but is swiftly decapitated by one of Santiago’s guards. They are immediately locked up, tortured, and assaulted.

That afternoon the mob arrives and everyone is walking on eggshells as these goons get the three dollar tour of Santiago’s cocaine operation. This would be the worst time for a gun to go off with everyone so edgy . That is ,of course, exactly what happens as the models decide enough is enough and stage an escape.

It all comes down to everyone shooting at each other with all of the players confused as to who to bust a cap in first. The resulting melee works out perfectly for the C.I.A. who ,it just so happens, did have a perfectly coiffed spy smuggled in as one the cover girls.

This is dumb fun in the sun and it totally works thanks to decent photography and an R rated sensibility . That means mucho violence , nudity, and inane chatter as our models prove you have to be tough to survive in the arena of high fashion.

The cast is Grade A for a B-Movie. Paul L. Smith(Bluto from Robert Altman’s Popeye) has a blast as the hulking Santiago. He even gets to grab one mobster and push him up into a helicopter blade during the frenzied finale. Nina Van Pallandt is also on hand as the chief Model. She is somewhat known for a few Altman films but was also the real life girlfriend of Clifford Irving(who went to jail for fabricating a biography of Howard Hughes which made it to the big screen as “The Hoax’).

Spaghetti Western star Woody Strode is on hand as the lean mean Luther but the best performance is by Marjoe Gortner as the ill fated Larry. The back-story is even better with Gortner landing the gig after Dennis Hopper was fired after being arrested by Mexican authorities for walking around the jungle naked while blitzed on LSD. Great stuff and it comes on a two disc set that includes two Linda Blair “Women in Prison” flicks, ‘Chained Heat” and “Red Heat.”

Best Line: “Sleep with a guy long enough and you should at least remember his face.”


By Tom Doty

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

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