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Volume 7674a

 Tarzan: The Epic Adventures ~ VIII
Reviews by Charles Mento

Series Stars:
Joe Lara as Tarzan and Aaron Seville as Themba
Lists of Credits are Featured in ERBzine 7670



“You are the fulfillment of the prophecy. You are the fulfillment of my dreams.”

Okay, the DVD has the title listed like this: Tarzan and the Priestess of Opra. I mean…is this a language thing? Does Tarzan meet with Oprah Winfrey? Not sure what’s going on there but honestly I may not be the biggest Tarzan Novels or Edgar Rice Burroughs fan out there (though I value them) but even I know it’s Opar! Maybe it’s just a typo.

It starts out at night during a tribal dance or party or celebration of some kind seemingly honoring the great creature Tantor (?). I’m not really up on my native fashion sense but…it is starting to feel as if the fashions are all the same on these tribes but maybe I’m totally wrong. Themba is bored. Tarzan has been celebrating since last night.

I’m so sorry but Tarzan, seemingly looking and acting totally into Themba or men in general, jumps in front of Themba and is swaying to and fro!? He seems to want to entice Themba into the celebrating and…maybe into dancing…with him?

Where Themba is from, he tells Tarzan, the elephant isn’t a staple. This makes us like Themba even less. He isn’t into celebrating? Or into respecting others’ customs?

This is done because Themba just bows his head out of custom to honor whatever it is being honored and Tarzan later mentions this to La.

When Themba expresses this, Tarzan…shockingly…stands with his hips out and seems…seductive and asks Themba, “And where is that my friend?” when Themba mentioned “where he’s from.”  I…is Tarzan drunk? Just gay? I don’t know!

Bazi, a young man, is talking in what seems an authentic South African language. Ten days ago he left the village a boy and now is a man, returned. The tribe is the Mulani and handsome Bazi is a warrior who tells of a beast, half man, half gorilla with big teeth. Following them, Bazi claims he grabbed the beasts’ “yellow” bounty. Among these things Tarzan finds a necklace he gave Jane before he left London after Themba thought the kid was drunk.

Bazi leads Tarzan to where to find the beasts and Jane. He tells him and Themba to follow the river, a moon’s march north, and beyond a hidden valley. Tarzan will ask “the gods” to show him as much courage on his journey as Bazi showed on his. Bazi gives Tarzan back the necklace. They part talking a goodbye in a foreign language and putting a salute to chest.

Among the monsters’ possessions and Bazi’s is a severed finger with a ring on it. Gross. Themba thinks it is gross.

Tarzan and Themba travel through high grass and near a river. Themba must stop to drink. Tarzan tells Themba that this is not the first time Jane came to Africa unannounced. It is not Tarzan she is here to test, it is the jungle and she did come in secret to protect herself.

Tarzan tells a questioning Themba that this is not about Jane and the jungle, it is about Tarzan and the jungle. “She knows that she cannot separated the two, Themba.”

Tarzan insists he is not going through anything with Jane but Themba believes Tarzan IS but will not admit it. Men in love never do.

“I’m not like the others.”

“Maybe not in your taste in clothing. But when it comes to affairs of the heart you’re as weak as a butterfly is to the wind.”

Tarzan compares his talk and talk to that of the rooster Tangpu.

Themba finds a gold pig or boar and then a gold arrow head.

Themba says he is going to catch his breath and Tarzan moves on while Themba looks in the river for more gold!

Does anyone else find all of this an odd conversation and an odd script so far? Tarzan’s Jane problems? Themba? Is he lying to Tarzan to stay behind to look for gold? What is he, Dr. Smith from LOST IN SPACE?

Once again, Tarzan doesn’t see what is in his own mind or so the script tells us. Tarzan doesn’t really fully deny this either. And it makes him look…weak.

Themba hides in the river or water when someone or some thing makes animal sounds and has gross hairy legs and grosser toe nails seems to stalk him? With an opposable big toe? Or pinkie toe?

Tarzan smells something and returns to where Themba was. I think. He finds a strange footprint. Tarzan seems to leave the jungle when he finds a palace and moves through a …forest or a garden, freshly mowed?

He finds a shallow round hole on his arm as if he’s been shot with a dart or something?

There’s a shot of what is supposed to be Lara’s Tarzan in front of the palace but it looks like someone with thicker and shorter hair?

Tarzan climbs up the rocks toward the wall. By the time he gets up and over it into the city, it is night and misty…and something shadowy is stalking him in the place of strange statues.

There is also an impressive statue fountain of monkey statues holding it up. The blurry beast men are filmed in a good way, not revealing much of them yet but in a misty darkness. Again, the filming, the sets, the locations, the music and cinematography all work in favor of a great atmosphere…so far. The menace and nightmarishness of this works so far.

He is face to face, soon, with a beast man but pushes it away and runs. Soon, many circle around him and surround him. He awakens on a brick floor where a more human but fanged man seems to lead the others into wanting to kill him to protect where Opar is. There are beast men and some more human in beast masks. Before they can carry out killing Tarzan, a woman appears after a puff of smoke and small blast and calls the more human fanged one Cadj.

In something reminiscent of THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, Cadj wants her to adhere to the law but she claims to be the law.

She feels he is wasting a good sacrifice before reaching the temple and orders Tarzan, tied up, to be taken to her chamber. She is the priestess.

Themba was hiding in the river with a hollow reed in his mouth as he hid fully under the surface. ABOUT TIME, an excellent series of books about DOCTOR WHO, claims this is impossible to do.

The priestess introduces herself as La, high priestess of Opar. She references Tarzan’s white skin. Tarzan notices she speaks the language of the Mungani. Oparians share the blood of the great apes.

“I come from noble blood…as you obviously do.”

“Blood is blood.”

She claims the thornbush would not have allowed him to pass if his blood was not pure.

A handmaiden helps her dress. Tarzan is “fleet of tongue” and she likes that. She asks what he is doing here.

When he tells her he is looking for a friend, an outsider, he responds with, “…for anyone who could not defend themselves.”

She asks what power this Jane has over him. He says, “Only that which I am willing to give her.”

She thinks Jane a weakling that he wastes his time on.

Themba seems to be trying to sneak into Opar via the river that goes under a guarded bridge. He also reaches for a gold necklace in the water and falls past a waterfall and into more water where he swims to a log.

La seems not to know if Jane were captured or if anyone was prisoner in her own kingdom but she asks her men to give her info. Next, we see a British woman in a cave like cell after Tarzan himself is thrown into a different one.

The woman seems…a bit too attentive to La’s more permissive dress sense than in the woman’s civilized world. Is this Jane? If so, other than TARZAN IN MANHATTAN, this might be the worst Jane ever.  Jane averts her eyes form looking at La. Does she fancy her?

La returns to Tarzan and tells him that Jane was spotted up north from here and she sent guards to fetch her.

Tarzan tells her about Themba, a friend who is a Mugambi or Muganbi.

“You seem to lose a lot of friends, Tarzan. Maybe you should tie little bells around their necks.”

One of the woman handmaids or female guards is a black woman.

Tarzan is prepared and put in robes. There is another fountain of stone altar slab (from which La vanishes in a fire or smoke), a huge snake statue near seating, and women in white holding up flower arrangements in some kind if ritual resembling something out of THE WICKER MAN.

One of the women holding the flowers seems to be talking to another woman on her right during a filming moment.

La appears near Tarzan and wears the mask of Arios. Tarzan knows the name as the Emperor of Atlantis.

La has a red stone that seems to focus her powers or some of her powers. She uses it to show him a map while explaining her history.

10,000 years ago her ancestors set sail to this savage land in search of gold. Ships stopped coming. Scouts were sent to find them. But Atlantis has sunk into the sea. Cadj spies on them but openly? La tells Tarzan he will not be happy unless Tarzan is dead or until he is dead. He thinks Tarzan is after something that belongs to him: her.

By law, La must mate with the most perfect of men so that the line of high priestesses is not broken.

I have to admit, the actress playing La is good. IMDB says her name is Angela Harry.  They also spell Themba as Thimba, which is more how his name sounds. In any case, Harry, if it is her name, plays a perfect La. She has just the right amount of balance of menace, power, beauty, femininity, and camp that is called for such a part. And she works.

More later.

I’m back.

“From what I can see, you’ve got plenty of suitors.”

“I know.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“They’re ugly.”

La thinks the Flaming god brought Tarzan to them to be her suitor and to challenge Cadj for the right to be. She kisses him. He takes out the necklace and tells her there is someone else.

She doesn’t react well to this and opens his robe, calls her guards to prepare him for the sacrificial temple. Tarzan allows himself to be taken away? Huh?

Themba’s made his way to…some room of gold objects which he tries to steal from.

Tarzan is on a non-cross ready to be sacrificed to the Flaming God (“You treat your flaming god well.”). His death at La’s hand is taking too long for Cadj so he attacks La, makes her drop the red ruby. As he does, Tarzan finally frees himself from in his bonds and fights Cadj. THEN, he runs away with La. Her handmaidens or lower priestesses (?) flee, too but not with La and Tarzan.

Oparians are afraid of the souls of the dead and according to law anyone who trespasses the walls of the sacred tomb will be sacrificed by those interned there. So…that is where La hides with Tarzan.

La kisses him again and wants him touching her but he does not respond. She knows why. “Once again, this Jane comes between us.”

She kisses him yet again and turns a knob (!) that drops him into a pit while she leaves to find troops loyal to her.

She’s quickly captured but tells Cadj that there will be a sacrifice: the outsider woman. In an uncomfortable moment, he has La on the bed on her back and he smiles hideously about a sacrifice…or something else. Was this La’s plan all along?

Tarzan finds his way out of the pit and bumps into Themba who drops some of his gold souvenirs. Did La know Tarzan would escape from the pit THAT easily? Did I miss something?

La uses the ruby to start a laser like device to kill the woman Themba thought was Jane. Tarzan interrupts. Themba fights Cadj while Tarzan uses the bigger ruby to guide the laser, which kills at least one ape man monster. Themba seems to knock some of the troops down or even kill them, it’s unclear and the show doesn’t commit here to the killing, for better or worse.

Tarzan takes the veil off the woman’s face and says, “You’re not Jane.”

She says, “I know.”

La says, “Does this mean I can kill her?”

La then TURNS around again and will lead Tarzan and this woman out of here with Themba! Gosh, this woman is fickle.

In the tomb, Joanna Kingsley explains. She took the necklace from Jane and wanted an adventure in Africa. La continues to think the woman isn’t as pretty as she and knows now that the woman is not her competition, insulting Joanna’s looks again.

Tarzan asks if La has some other means of escaping the tomb but…he already knows of the pit and how to escape that. La opens up another exit for them. When La remains behind, Tarzan tells Themba to take Joanna down the east tunnel and he will meet them across the river.

Tarzan gets La out the way he got out. She will mount a campaign against Cadj. He holds her hand and leaves, looking back. Cadj, unexpectedly, shows up and tells her that only after his offspring “free from her loins” will he then kill her. Tarzan fights him. They have a long fight where he seems to bite Tarzan’s shoulder and almost kills him with a knife. Tarzan gives chase AFTER (for once) the villain and they tangle a few more times, eventually both falling off the waterfall into the water.

Only Tarzan comes up out of the water, Cadj is face down dead. Did he drown? Tarzan emerges holding a bloodless knife. Did Tarzan kill him or did the fall kill Cadj. Is Cadj even dead?

Beast men throw rocks at Joanna and Themba, then give chase. Joanna must take off her dress of pure gold (sacrificial dress) to cross the river with Themba and tells him not to turn around until they reach London.

Tarzan brings Cadj’s body to the beast men for proof that there is only one true leader. Then he says, awkwardly, “La is great.”

He calls her his friend. She calls him, “My love.”

This is not a bad episode by any means and seems to me to be a mix of the Opar Tarzan novels. BUT someone other than myself would have to judge that as I haven’t read them, only the comic adaptations.

Despite what it seems, Themba isn’t entirely useless. Jane does not appear at all. Joanna must have stolen Jane’s necklace but all she said was she took it.

La’s actress is pretty good for the show and though La keeps changing her mind about whose side she is on, it all makes sense. There’s thankfully only a small bit of mysticism this episode. The show never really seemed to get that right before this episode but now it has. Unlike most of the other female enemies in the past episodes (all seven of them!?), this one seems to have a multi layered one, at least more than the others.

The script works too mostly and yet…

…hate to complain but the fight scenes, while okay, are never near the fight scenes in the Ron Ely show, which always seemed to have conviction and commitment. I guess they have to downplay the violence here. The show seems more adult than the Wolf Larson show but less so than the Ron Ely show. It also seems set in some fantasy land that IS the novels but not the movies’ fantasy land.

I must say I DO miss, as I’ve written in the past, Jane, Boy, Jai, and the cast of the Wolf show or at least characters like them.

Instead we have Themba, who, like Hercules and Xena’s shows had, a sidekick who was battle ready…mostly or there to be ill or captured.

Thing is: Tarzan in this show gets captured a lot (as he seemed to in the novels), tied up, thrown around and surrounded. He must have had some opportunity to escape but didn’t…mostly because he was worried Jane was somewhere trapped in this palace. BUT this Tarzan feels …as Themba basically says early on in this episode…weak and not just because of Jane. In past episodes, three men have overpowered him or so. Here, he lamely runs away more than once and hides a lot. It just doesn’t feel like Tarzan would DO that stuff.

All in all, an entertaining episode despite all that. Probably, so far, the best episode.


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