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  Amazon Jail Jungle Boogie
Year: 1982
Director: Osvaldo de Oliveira
Stars: Elizabeth Hartmann, Mauricio do Valle, Sandra Graffi, Ligia de Paula, Elys Cardoso, Shirley Benny, Márcia Fraga, Regina Lopes, Kátia Spencer, Fátima Nunes, Sérgio Hingst, João Paulo Romalho, Wilson Sampson, Siegrid Schneider, Vanessa Alves
Genre: Sex, Trash, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Deep in the Amazon jungle, hairy, drunken Edgar (Sérgio Hingst) and his sadistic wife Helena (Elizabeth Hartmann) have caged dozens of captive, naked women whom they aim to sell as sex slaves. However, Edgar’s handsome nephew has fallen for nubile, blonde Betty (Sandra Graffi) who by means of a spectacular shag straight through the prison bars convinces him to aid her escape. Later that night, while the girls entertain visiting clients with naked samba dancing, and new girl Mary (Shirley Benny) enjoys some fevered lesbian attention from bisexual Helena, impatient Angel (Ligia del Paula) makes an early break for it. Chased into the jungle, Angel gets a bullet in the back while three helpful Southern belles (?!) are kidnapped in her place. This proves a big mistake on the sex traffickers part, since the police are soon combing the woods for these local girls. Betty takes the advantage and after blowing up the sex corrals she and the girls flee into the jungle, which is where things get really rough.

Morally reprehensible, but then what do you expect from a sleazy Brazilian sexploitation movie? Co-writer/cinematographer/director Osvaldo de Oliveira specialised in this kind of tasteless nonsense and ensures the lush scenery and naked ladies get plenty of attention, indulging a uniquely Brazilian fetish for close-ups on samba jiggling buttocks. Though genre connoisseurs supposedly rate Oliveira’s similarly-themed Bare Behind Bars (1980), Amazon Jail is trashy, silly fun with seedy shortcomings that are a little easier to overlook since he pitches the film like a hysterically camp soap opera. The dialogue is self-consciously fruity (“You’re so sensual when you’re nervous!”) and the acting is comic book broad. Every girl is an insatiable nympho and every guy is a bug-eyed sex maniac. Edgar and Helena’s domestic squabbles take the film further into comedy, even more so whenever they get amorous.

The cynical, dog-eat-dog worldview extends beyond the sex traffickers as the captive girls turn on each other and their sweaty trek through the jungle leads to snake bites, cat fights and sordid death. At least Betty emerges a fairly smart and gutsy heroine, who steadfastly refuses to become a victim while the other girls are characterised as either sassy or silly, approaching their various sexual liaisons with a weird joie de vivre that is obviously a far cry from real-life victims of sex-traffickers but does leaven some of the underlining nastiness.

Sandra Graffi (whose behind-bars-shag is the kinkiest set-piece) and Shirley Benny (whose character takes a shine to one of the Southern belles, though her breast groping is rebuked with a sharp smack) emerge as the sexiest stars and the only ones playing actual characters, although Elys Cardoso has a few choice moments as down-on-her-luck cabaret dancer Liz. Though Oliveira includes a small handful of effectively melancholy or harrowing moments, the tone is largely jocular given that the girls wind up getting captured by sex-starved gold miners led by a flamboyantly gay preacher and his even campier black manservant. It would be as stretch to attach any kind of feminist subtext to a film like this, but while the macho good guys laugh, joke and whore their way to the rescue with a noticeable lack of urgency, Betty and the girls do ultimately save themselves, though Oliveira glosses over one tragic self-sacrifice too flippantly.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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