The Incredibly Bad Film Show

The film takes wing

Gwendoline (Just Jaeckin) - Tawny Kitaen, Brent Huff. Gwendoline (Tawny Kitaen) is a luscious, pouting virgin(!), the heroine in a French comic strip with the imaginative title of The Adventures of Gwendoline. She inhabits a world where heroes parry bad guys with witty one-liners, heroines have extreme difficulty keeping their clothing for more than a few rapid scene changes, and where anything can (and if it's silly enough, probably will) happen.

We first meet her stowed away in a crate full of straw on the docks of Shanghai or some similar exotic set, er, location. Inside two minutes, she has been accosted by oriental villains (with dodgy sneers and even dodgier accents), sold for 300 of whatever-the-local-currency-is (plus 50 for the shoe) and rescued by the designer-stubble clad hero who manages to dispatch everyone present in true comic-book style. Pausing only to adjust his cool (this guy shits ice-cubes), he departs, leaving Gwendoline soggier than the Weetabix you didn't finish yesterday.

What really makes this film 'work' is the style and pace of the direction. One of those rare films where a largish budget was probably involved, yet without obvious result, the action hardly lets up. Any attempt at character development, acting or the building of tension would have slowed things down, and are thankfully avoided. Our hero, Willard (Brent Huff), Gwendoline and her friend/chaperone are put in jail. Why? So Willard can pull the guard's head through the bars leaving his ears behind...

Bimbos behind, bars Gwendoline is trying to find her father, a butterfly collector, who has strayed into the depths of the country's interior, where tropical rain forests, deserts, volcanoes and swamps co-exist, blithely oblivious to the laws of nature, and within handy walking distance of Shanghai. Pretty obviously, Willard has no choice but to guide the girls past oriental pirates and rubber crocodiles & boa constrictors, pausing only to deliver one-liners like "Quick, get your clothes off!".

Captured by a tribe called the Cheops(!!) before Willard can come up with a smart remark, they are tied and left on the floor of a bamboo cell overnight to await certain death. Q: How do you make love while tied up? A: With a straw. This scene has to be seen (and heard) to be believed - Just Jaeckin was also responsible for directing "Emmanuelle", and such a scene is his meat and drink. Amazingly enough, they escape certain death (yes, really!) only to be captured by a race of scantily clad 18 year-old girls...

[At this point, some of you may be doubting this is a real film, and is instead merely the product of a deranged imagination. Let me assure you that it is a real film and that this article is a true and fair account of what goes on in it, difficult though it may be to believe.]

You might wonder how a race of pretty young things in rubber and foam spiked shoulder pads, bra, g-string and thigh length boots would survive undetected and without men, in the middle of a desert. Well, this film makes absolutely NO attempt to explain. Mind you, with all that pert female flesh bobbling around, this problem doesn't bother the average trash film fan for long.

Bad hair day Somehow, in all the running around in white caves full of shiny machinery doing nothing in particular with lots of steam (Metropolis with the woman's touch?), our hero and heroine disguise themselves as guards (Just how does Willard wear a woman's g-string and why do the guards in these films never recognise each other?). Pretty soon we have met the token mad scientist, enjoyed a Ben Hur style chariot race where the chariots are pulled by women, and laughed at more silly dialogue like "The Queen's will is the will of the Queen" and "Let's find the door and get out of here!". But true to form, Willard must make love to the victor of a fight to the death between the Queen's best warriors, before dying horribly. I won't spoil the climax, but just tell you he only does one of these...

Coming on like a soft-porn version of either Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or Jane & the Lost City, this film is guaranteed to infuriate any feminist who sees it. I can give it no higher praise than that, and finish with some more of the wonderfully cheesy dialogue:

Gwendoline: I'm scared, Beth. How do you make love to a man?
Beth: It's much easier to make love than fight four warriors with your hands tied behind your back...

[Tawny Kitaen, star of this film, has become something of a celebrity since. She starred in Witchboard and (my Heavy Metal correspondent tells me) she appeared in a few of Whitesnake's recent videos. I believe she's also married to David Coverdale, their lead singer]

US poster French poster Footnotes:
  • June 2000: saw Ms.Kitaen in, of all publications, Baseball Weekly -- no longer Mrs. Coverdale, she's married to major-league baseball pitcher Chuck Finley of the Anaheim Angels.
  • October 2002: they're now separated. Finley filed for divorce claiming, in an interesting twist, she beat him up. Bet that made for some interesting heckling when he took the pitcher's mound...
  • The movie is also known as The Perils of Gwendoline or The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak. The European version of the film is notably longer than the US release.
  • Brent and Tawny would meet again in 1997's Dead Tides.
  • The original Gwendoline comics, by not-all-that-French artist John Willie, can be found in a collected edition from Eros Comics
  • ...but J.B.Rund of Belier Press adds "The material that was Published by 'Eros Comix' is a Latter Story - done by 'Stanton', but this is not all of the 'Gwendoline' that was drawn by that artist. In fact, the first two of these were reprinted by 'Belier Press' in 1976: 'Sweeeter Gwen & The Return Of Gwendoline' (by Stanton). The works by 'Stanton' have Nothing to do with the movie. If you take a look at our website you will find a preview of the second edition (revised & enlarged) of 'The Adventures Of Sweet Gwendoline' by John Willie, as well as a 'Retrospective Gallery' of previous publications (including several by 'Stanton')."
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