Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls

Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls is currently available on instant Netflix.

One-Line Review: One of Asylum’s worst – I’m holding out for a hero.

Allan QuatermainAllan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls (2008) – Rated R

I loved Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). It was a wonderful homage to the serials of the 30s and was clearly based, at least partially, on H. Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain novels. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) was a highly successful sequel with wonderful set pieces but a less than stellar plot and somewhat annoying heroine.

Piggybacking on the success of Temple of Doom, Golan Globus hired Richard Chamberlain, king of the miniseries, as Allan Quatermain and made the low budget King Solomon’s Mines (1985) with a pre-Basic Instinct Sharon Stone. This begat Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1986) the following year. The Golan Globus productions ape the Indiana Jones material rather than the actual novels.

Unfortunately they had no idea what made Raiders of the Lost Ark work and were dismal failures. The only thing that makes King Solomon’s Mines look good is the sequel, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1986), also starring Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone.

Spielberg made a nice conclusion to his series with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. There weren’t as many cool set pieces but the plot was great. Unfortunately, when you have the machinery to print money, it is very hard to resist using it. Spielberg returned once more to the well in 2008 with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Asylum, seeing a chance to repeat the Golan-Globus gambit, wrote their own Allan Quatermain story (no more copyright for Haggard) and titled it Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls thus alluding to both the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the Temple of Doom. Now you would think that with that title, there would be a Temple of Skulls. Hilariously there is not.

As with this summer’s big budget movie, The Lone Ranger, the titular protagonist is a hopeless, clueless, annoying boob. If you want a heroic Allan Quatermain, either watch the admittedly cheesy The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or go back to the 1950 version of King Solomon’s Mines with Stewart Granger.

I complain about Asylum’s terrible CGI all the time and this film is no different. Still I need to complain about the sound here. Asylum lifts entire native tracks from 1964’s Zulu. According to imdb, Asylum made this movie for less than $50,000. I suppose this is why they don’t have any slumming stars in it.

Side note: Erica Summers made Mister White for less than a tenth of this budget and I really enjoyed that.

One scene has quite a bit of shaky cam as there is an earthquake for no apparent reason. A huge flight of something imperils our adventurers – the CGI was so bad I could not tell if it was bees, birds, or locusts. The train fights are hilarious, second only to the anti-climactic climax in silliness.

You will be thankful that this movie has less than the usual amount of dialogue whenever the actors speak. They are simply dreadful, the script is bad, the movie is deeply anachronistic and idiotic, the CGI is expectedly awful, characters appear and disappear randomly during the movie, etc.

Those Richard Chamberlain films aren’t looking so bad now, in spite of the floating plastic vegetables in the cannibal stew. Sometimes I wish I was making this stuff up.


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