Continuing last week’s theme of jungle native, I watched a few movies this weekend:

Picked up a DVD for $3 at a local used book store…a double-feature of The Land That Time Forgot (1975) and its sequel The People That Time Forgot (1977), both directed by Kevin Connor and based on stories by E. R. Burroughs.  Filmed in the Canary Islands, the jungle footage is average and the natives and dinosaurs are silly.  But it’s all good fun.

The natives in Land have an interesting three-tier hierarchy of tribes based on their evolution.  Except they think of it more as a metamorphosis rather than evolution…i.e. individuals are born to the lower tribes and transform to join the higher tribes.

People is a borderline candidate for inclusion as a precursor on the Big List of 1980’s Fantasy Movies.  Most of the “natives” in this one are samurai ghouls led by a green-skinned tyrant in a groovy skull castle with a Frazetta “Death Dealer” tapestry!  Don’t believe me?…check out a fine review of People with many screenshots at Teleport City, here.

Banaue: Stairway to the Sky (1975), directed by Gerardo De Leon.  Got this in Manila last summer and was excited to watch it because it stars Nora Aunor and Christopher De Leon and I thought it would be about the Banaue rice terraces.  It shows a few shots of the terraces at the beginning and end, but the movie isn’t about the terraces at all.  It’s apparently about the ancient tribes of natives that moved into the area and the conflicts between them, leading to gruesome-ness such as beheadings and roastings.

Unfortunately, Banaue was hard to watch because the source film is very poor quality.  It has a thick tinting around the edges that severely restricts the viewing area.  I’m not sure if the tinting was a result of film deterioration, or if it was deliberate, to give it a dreamy “long long time ago” quality.  Very strange.

(For a more watchable movie filmed at and around the Banaue rice terraces, see Batad (2006))

Also, Banaue is in Tagalog, without English subtitles, so I couldn’t really follow the story at all.  On the other hand, there are other Tagalog films that are easier to follow, I think due to their more modern contexts.  Such as these two…

Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (“Three Years Without God”) (1976), directed by Mario O’Hara, and also starring Aunor and De Leon.  It makes sense that the two greatest movies about the Philippines during WW2 are Filipino productions.  This and Oro, Plata, Mata.  It’s disappointing that Hollywood has all but ignored the subject during the past 50 years.

Medal of Valor: Lt. Jack Moreno (1991), directed by Garcia and Nuqui.  Apparently based on a true story, this is about a Filipino army officer’s exploits of bravery while hunting down and defending against communist rebels in the jungles of the Philippines.  If I hadn’t known what it was about before I watched it, I would have thought it was a Vietnam War action movie.  Excellent jungle.

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Yesterday’s post about jungle natives in some movies got me thinking, so today’s post is just me trying to organize my thoughts regarding the topic and gathering some links together.  Shooting the clouds to make rain…

Heard the stories of shooting arrows
Tearin’ open the clouds
But indians shoot the best, and
The indians they don’t like us, much

As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t put much effort into predefining large amounts of info about natives in my jungle settings, despite their likelihood of playing an important role in jungle campaigns.  My preference is to riff off of vague descriptions, combining fantastical embellishments with my own conceptions (and likely some misconceptions) of real world primitives.

(For better or worse, sometimes I go gonzo.  For example, What makes these jungle natives special?)

In general, I try to stay away from the concept of “native villages”.  I’m no expert and I’m not saying there’s no such thing as native jungle villages, but I like the idea of scattered jungle populations.  It’s supported by some of the things I’ve read about primitives on Mindanao, such as the Tasaday and Ata:

“Each Ata family lived in a tree-house, separated by a considerable distance from any neighbor.  They never congregated in villages.”

That being said, I’m aiming to differentiate the natives found in different regions of my jungle setting, mostly on the basis of their relationship to visiting colonial powers and the fate that those powers have brought upon them…

In “The Jungle” (found in the Fire in the Jungle Supplement):  The natives in this region are slowly returning to their former dominant status after having been mostly wiped out by the Wizards Wars.  They are widespread, but scattered and unlikely to be encountered in large concentrations.    The greatest of them are doing what they can to rejuvenate their peoples’ lost glory.  Their great civilization of the past is hinted at in ruined structures and magic treasures, and in the tales they tell around the fire.  Perhaps a great “Lost City” hides somewhere, where the advanced native civilization still thrives in seclusion.

In “The Blasted Jungle”:  Natives here are mostly assimilated with the remnant colonial powers (The Resistance) or vice versa.  Interbreeding over the course of many generations has created a unique hybrid race and culture adapted to life in this most inhospitable jungle.  Scattered bands of true primitives remain in the remote wilds, but are extremely skittish and they no longer have much in common with the assimilated natives.

In “The Dark Jungle”: Native tribes here have strong and different cultures, but are lacking in the technological advancements necessary for the development of a powerful, unified civilization.  Furthermore, they are in the midst of their first sustained contact with a foreign culture, via the Jungle Men and the Jungle Rendezvous.

JUNGLE VIRGIN FORCE!

January 24, 2012

Last month I purchased Tales of Voodoo: Volume One on ebay for 59 cents plus $2.95 shipping.  It contains two garbage flicks:  Escape from Hell Hole and Jungle Virgin Force.  The movies have absolutely nothing to do with the DVD cover art:

(The cover says it includes Hell Hole, but it’s actually Escape From Hell Hole, an Indonesian film made in 1983.  Hell Hole is a different movie, made in the Philippines in 1978.  In any case, “Women in Prison” movies aren’t my thing, so I don’t have much to say about this one.  There was a minute or two of kinda-looks-like-a-jungle scenes with gory bamboo traps, but don’t waste your time with this one.)

“Jungle Virgin Force” just rolls off the tongue, don’t ya think?  I’ve been annoying my wife  at random moments the last couple weeks by saying in a movie trailer voice:  “JUNGLE VIRGIN FORCE!!!”

A couple days ago, my brother asked if I wanted to borrow a DVD of a movie starring Anne Hathaway.  I replied:  “Nah.  I’m gonna watch JUNGLE VIRGIN FORCE instead.”  We laughed.

So I did watch Jungle Virgin Force instead.  Made in Indonesia in 1988.  Near the beginning of the movie, the “Professor” says:

Your expedition could very well be fatal.  You’ll be encountering real savages who don’t apprehend the concept of mercy.  You won’t find this island on any map in existence.  It’s uncharted and unexplored.  It lies roughly midway between Australia and New Guinea, in an area known as “The Triangle of Death.” 

This may sound melodramatic, but only a handful of explorers who have gone there have lived to tell the story.  I befriended their queen, and with their help I got out alive.  The rest of my men weren’t so lucky.  Their high priest encourages the practice of cannibalism.  His black magic is something you must take seriously. His powers are quite real. 

Your guide will be a hunter named Bunyon.  He spent over ten years searching the jungle for his daughter, who was lost in a plane crash. 

And on final thing:  I implore you to forget about any stories you may have heard about tribal treasures.  Don’t invite your own death.  There’s no way to emphasize this too strongly:  

Forget about the treasure! 

That sums up the movie well.  Of course, it’s all about the treasure.  The jungle and caves were ok, but the real highlight of the movie is the grating music and grunting jungle natives.  There’s even a High Priest and Priestess that shoot lightning from their hands and magically hurl stalactites through their enemies’ chests.  A borderline candidate for inclusion on the Big List of 1980s Fantasy Movies.

Jungle Virgin Force is bonkers and headache inducing, but except for rampant violence it’s actually quite tame.  No virgins or nudity or cannibalism, so you can watch it with the family…depending upon your family.

Hey, speaking of humans eating humans.  Cannibal movies don’t interest me much, but I have seen a couple:  Last Cannibal World (1977) (aka Jungle Holocaust) and Cannibal Holocaust (1980), both directed by Ruggero Deodato.  Cannibal Holocaust is the more infamous of the two, but it’s little more than a shock showcase.  Last Cannibal World has a more interesting adventure and contains some of the best jungle footage of all time.  Superb rain forest with huge buttress rooted trees and a variety of thick foliage and swamp.  The caves and natives are well done too.  This movie is not tame, so do not watch it with the family…depending upon your family.

Text at the beginning of Last Cannibal World says it is based on an actual story regarding the discovery of a stone age tribe on Mindanao.  I’m 99% certain that’s completely false, based on what I know about Mindanao and the Tasaday.  Also, there is conflicting info about where Last Cannibal World was filmed.  I’m skeptical that any of the jungle was filmed in the Philippines, as is suggested in some places.  I don’t know for certain, but I’m of the opinion that the jungle scenes were all filmed in Malaysia.

One last time before I give it a rest…

JUNGLE VIRGIN FORCE!!

…that I’ve seen by one man:  Jason Scheier.  Check out his other work at his blog and also his gallery.

The new handcrafted digest version of the Fire in the Jungle supplement is now available.  Get yours now while my printing supplies last!

MagCloud now offers “digest format” as a publishing option, but I want separate cardstock covers, dammit!  So I reworked the layout, converted some images, and printed up a copy on my desktop printer.  Here it is hanging out with other digests…

The largest obstacle was what to do with all the full-color art and maps…

  • I tried a test print of “The Lonely Gorilla” cover art in full-color but I wasn’t satisfied with the job my desktop printer was doing with it, and it used a lot of ink.  So I transformed the image to inverted grayscale.  This gives it a nice look in B&W print on green cardstock without consuming massive amounts of ink.
  • I also tried an enlarged full-color test print of the The Tomb of the Monkey God map.  It used a boatload of green ink and my printer couldn’t give it the crisp look of the original image, so I decided to change it to grayscale.  The disadvantage is that the map loses some of the coolness of the original image’s deepening shades of green.  The advantage that it’s twice as large as in the original FitJ supplement.
  • The jungle hex map and the player’s map are printed in full-color on a cream cardstock.  These maps  won’t use obscene amounts of ink and my printer does a good job of reproducing them in color.  I tested some grayscale versions, but too much detail was lost.
  • “Egot in Oil” is not in the digest version, unfortunately.  Printing it in full-color wouldn’t work well on my printer, and grayscale wouldn’t do it justice.  Replacing it is an old woodcut piece that looks nice in B&W.

To summarize, some of the images worked better in full-color with my printer, others in grayscale.  So the digest edition of the FitJ supplement has double cardstock covers to fulfill these needs.

The text booklet is twenty digest pages in length and, except for the layout, almost entirely the same as in the original FitJ supplement.  Some sentences were slightly altered to fit the new layout better, but those are only minor changes.  The biggest change was due to an extra half-page of space that was available, into which I added the Bolo Man character class.  There was another small space available that allowed me to include a shortened version of the Great Flood myth.

The digest edition is only available direct from me.  Go here to the FitJ Supplement page to order.  $10 for US buyers, $17 for Canada buyers, $19 for buyers anywhere else in the world.  The price includes USPS Priority Mail shipping.