Amazonia (1986) from ICMS and Tuna

This time I'm presenting you with another one of those Italian 1980's exploitation films set in the Amazon. The title of this one is "Schiave bianche: violenza in Amazzonia" (White slavegirls: violence in the Amazon) or shorter "Amazonia". It is said to be the true story of Katherine Miles. She was allegedly an 18 year old girl whose parents owned a huge plantation in the Amazon. During a boating trip her aunt and uncle arranged to have Katherine and her parents killed by natives. But Katherine survived the attack and was abducted by another native tribe where she had to stay for more than a year before she could return to the civilized world to take revenge on her aunt and uncle. This film mainly shows her ordeal during that one year period. I've searched the net but wasn't able to find anything on a contemporary Katherine Miles who lived such an adventure. My guess is this is all a hoax and the entire story is as real as an Omega or Rolex watch you can buy on the streetcorners of Italy from dodgy vendors.
The role of Katherine is played by Elvire Audrey (in the IMDb "Audray", in Lui magazine from 1982 as "Audret"). There is not one single moment in this film where she seems to be interested in her character or the movie. She only has one or two facial expressions, but that's not surprising when you're a graduate of the WSSA (the William Shatner School for Acting). Furthermore this film has the obligatory animal cruelty scene, luckily not so explicit as in other films of the genre. The other actors are equally bad and uninterested in the film. It would have been better if they had closed the one giant hole in the "script" : why did the native tribe where Katherine ended up prevent her from going back to her world and why did she have to undergo their rituals ? Except for one man all the natives are depicted as nice people, so this question keeps popping to mind.


see the main commentary
Now let's see what poor Katherine had to endure. In the first 25 minutes of the film the story is set up and culminates when Katherine's parents are murdered and she's found more dead than alive by the good natives who cut off her parents' heads (the bad natives being those who killed her parents). Kat is carried on a stick to a village. From that point on she is at least topless and at times completely naked throughout the rest of the film. Upon arrival the leader of the tribe has her stripped, cleaned and put on display for the rest of the tribe for an auction. The bad guy buys her for a goose, a pig and another animal that I don't remember. Then he takes her to his hut to have his way with her. She opposes him, so he has a couple of women help him to take her. But he stops his attack when he notices that she is still a virgin. Apparently it's bad luck to touch virgins in this tribe since all girls here, so we are told, are deflowered with a stick at the age of 4 in a special ritual. So Kat has to undergo this ritual as well. Then she becomes part of the tribe.

Then the good guy challenges and kills the bad guy and from that moment on Kat becomes the woman of the good guy. She refuses to give herself to him because she wrongly thinks he killed her parents. Meanwhile Kat has made herself popular amongst the natives. She plays a self-made flute which the children in particular seem to like. She also fixes a guy's broken leg, then she buries her parents' heads, which had been hanging in the village all the time. At long last she learns that her man didn't kill her parents, he just cut off their heads when they were already murdered by the baddies, as custom there dictates. So that's okay then, she doesn't stumble over such trivialities, and she finally agrees to play his flute as well and they live like husband and wife. Finally she gets her hubby so far as to let her take revenge on her aunt and uncle. I think I've revealed enough now, so I'm not going to give away the ending but believe me, it's nothing spectacular. One might ask how did she communicate with her man and the tribe. Well, doesn't it come in handy that the good guy's cousin was raised by missionaries who spoke English until she was 7 and sent back to her people?

not yet available on Region 1 DVD

Lastly a few words about the DVD. It played fine on my computer but had lots of problems on my stand-alone player. The image (4:3) quality is average and the transfer is a bit too light. The sound isn't to write home about either. Furthermore the Dutch subtitles are minimalistic in every way : entire parts aren't translated and their size is minuscule. The disk is an all regions PAL disk intended for the Dutch market but I found at the Austrian based
Tuna's notes:

Amazonia is yet another Italian cannibal/head hunter film, but this one is supposedly based on a true story, and shows no actual cannibalism, although it has plenty of gore. It has been variously known as Amazonia: The Katherine Miles Story, Captive Women VII: White Slave, Forest Slave and White Slave. IMDB's favorite is Forest Slave. It stars petite Elvire Audray as Catherine Miles, 18, and returning to her parents rubber plantation from school in London. They take a houseboat excursion to celebrate, and the parents are killed by poison darts. Catherine is only nicked, and survives the poison. Some headhunters take her parents heads as trophies, and decide to bring her with them.

The chief of the tribe auctions her off to the highest bidder. She, of course, wants no part of him, but lucks out in that she is a virgin, and there is a tribal taboo about deflowering a virgin. She is eventually broken in in a ceremony performed by women using a piece of bamboo or cane. The warrior who first captured her fights her owner to the death for the rights to her. She is attracted to him in many ways, but also repulsed as he is the one she thinks killed her parents. Later, she discovers that it wasn't Indians at all, but greedy relatives, and swears revenge.

The film starts at her trial, and we cut back and forth between the trial, and the unfolding story, which served to prevent any kind of suspense or build-up of tension. The good news it that Audray is topless through most of the film, and shows buns and bush briefly. Several native women also show all three Bs. IMDB readers say 5.3 of 10, and the only review available complained about the lack of gore. The DVD I screened is an all region one, and contains a very good 4/3 transfer, but a disappointing lack of special features for a film supposedly based on a true story.

The Critics Vote

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The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D+ (ICMS), to C- (Tuna).

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