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Naked Amazon (1955)

Theatrical Poster
Director:
Zygmunt Sulistrowski Zygmunt Sulistrowski
Starring:
Andrea Bayard Andrea Bayard
Ary Blaustein Ary Blaustein
Bapista de Lima Bapista de Lima
Dercy Gonçalves Dercy Gonçalves
Monique Jaubert Monique Jaubert

4.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Culture & Society, Jungle Film, Shockumentary
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Review by Chad
Added: March 31, 2007
Mondo films, for those of you who may not be aware, are documentary-esque films that typically display sensational and often graphic images in order to shock the audience. Animal cruelty, real human death, and bizarre tribal rituals are the order of the day in these films, with Faces of Death being one of the most well-known releases from the genre. It's sort of funny how Mondo Cane is commonly referred to as being the film that started this whole craze when in actuality it was far from the first film to portray this type of subject matter. Of course, had somebody asked me just a couple of hours ago to name the film that started it, I probably would have said Mondo Cane as well; however, Naked Amazon has proven me wrong in that regard.

Told through the perspectives of some of the whitest New Yorkers that you're ever likely to meet, Naked Amazon shows us what it's like deep inside the "Green Inferno" of Brazil and how the natives interact with members of the civilized world. We also witness the numerous dangers that pop up along the way, mostly courtesy of animal "attacks" and we also get to see how the humans "survive" these attacks.

The film is presented as a legit documentary (complete with a narrator and everything), but there are a handful of scenes which are obviously fabricated or played up for the camera. Take, for instance, the animal attacks. With the possible exception of portions of the crocodile scene, none of these are legit attacks in which the actor (or actress) in question had reason to fear for their lives: an animal would just so happen to be on screen (probably placed there by the filmmakers), it would make a move or wiggle a bit, and the narrator would claim that this savage beast was attempting to attack whomever just before they killed it. In fact, there are a couple of scenes in which it's blatantly obvious that the animal is being thrown at the stars by somebody off screen, prompting the actor to draw a knife or a gun and slay it for the camera.

Now, that's not to say that the entire film is "fake", because there are plenty of scenes which could have been legit and some that I'm not sure about. The crocodile sequence in particular jumped out at me as being either legit or a highly-convincing fake, as we watch the stars swim through the Amazon with a pair of crocodiles directly behind them giving chase. If this were a recent release, I'd have assumed that animatronics or CGI was used to create this effect; however, considering that the film was released in 1954, I think that I'd be able to tell if the animal was real or not, and it definitely looked alive to me. Of course, the people then get on the boat and the type of thing mentioned in the previous paragraph kicks in, but there were those fleeting couple of moments in which I fully believed.

I must admit that it's a pretty forgettable affair when the group finally encounter the natives towards the end of the film. We watch as the natives do their tribal dances and mug for the cameras, we watch the women walk around in their birthday suits and breast-feed their babies, and we also watch as the tribe buries one of their own. I'm sure that this was shocking and unique by 1954 standards, but it's the sort of thing that you'll see on the Discovery Channel five times a week in today's world. This is not a horror film, so don't go into it expecting a Cannibal Holocaust-styled ending.

Mondo films are notorious for mixing together legit "action" with staged sequences, and figuring out what's real and what's fake is part of the charm. Naked Amazon features plenty of scenes that fall into both categories, but there's also a number of scenes which will have the audience on the fence as to the authenticity of the depicted events. It's definitely a film that fans of the genre will enjoy to a certain extent (depending on whether said fans are more interested in story or bloodshed), but if you're new to this style of film, I'd advise you to get an introduction to it by way of something else. 6/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 04/01/2007, 12:43 PM
Look into Brutes & Savages too Chad. It was interesting.
There was a scene with an alligator, that had me laughing so hard. You'll know what I mean when you see it.
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