Thor and the Amazon Women (1963) (part 1 of 10)
Thor and the Amazon Women (original title: Le Gladiatrici) is a sword and sandals pic, and right from the start, I must admit that this is one film genre I know very little about. So when the Rogue Reviewers picked this as the subject of our first roundtable since I joined the organization, it took me so long to figure out what movie to do that by the time I made my decision, most of the really awful entries in the genre had already been taken.
So, I had to settle for the next best thing, a completely obscure and really goofy film. This is an Italian-made flick that maybe three people have ever heard of, and as such, information about this film was impossible to come by. The credits of the movie reveal almost nothing, so I’m still unsure as to who played what, and what the spelling of a lot of these characters’ names was supposed to be. That’s why in a lot of cases, I’ve gone with some rather, shall we say, creative nicknames for the characters.
As far as the making of this film goes, the most I can gather is that Le Gladiatrici is supposed to be a sequel to another film in the same genre entitled Taur, il Re della Forza Bruta (retitled for American audiences as The Mighty Taur). Apparently, the makers of The Mighty Taur originally wanted to call their main character Tarzan [!], but when the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate got wind of it, a change was quickly made, and instead the character was called Taur.
Taur appears again in Le Gladiatrici, but for unknown reasons, when it was dubbed for American audiences, the character of Taur somehow became Thor [!], even though he bears no relation whatsoever to the god of Norse mythology. In fact, Thor is simply another strongman, supposedly in the same league as Hercules and Maciste.
So when the film was repackaged for American audiences, it was given the title Thor and the Amazon Women, despite the fact that the main character isn’t really Thor, and none of the action takes place anywhere near the Amazon river. Le Gladiatrici was also repackaged on occasion as Women Gladiators, which, as we’ll soon see, is a title that makes a hell of a lot more sense.
The film starts abruptly with a camera panning across some high rocky cliffs. A faint, barely audible narrator says, “Where now all is sea and desert, there once existed, countless ages ago, a region called [something, sounds like “Laprisia”].” His voice sounds vaguely stuffy and British, but not really. He tells us that in this area, there “grew a matriarchal civilization so frightful, the dim echoes of its cruelty and violence have come down to us across the abyss of 18,000 years!” Whatever that means.
The narrator continues on, and you would not believe how fast this guy is talking. I had to listen to this opening preamble about twenty times just to understand everything, and I’d swear they got an auctioneer to read this part. Anyway, as we pan down the cliffs to the ground, we see a bunch of extras thrown off the set of Quest for Fire as they trudge along in the dirt.
The narrator, who’s male by the way, sounds oddly cheerful when he explains that in this matriarchal civilization, “The men were considered inferior beings, destined from birth to a condition of slavery!” Then we cut to a whole bunch of half-dressed, sweaty men down in a cave as they pummel things with big hammers. The narrator tells us that the men were “forced to work in the mines” and that “they had lost the last vestige of their rebellious spirit!” Oh, come on, it can’t be that bad. I know a lot of guys who would be happy to just pound on stuff with hammers all day.
“All power was in the hands of the women!” the narrator happily tells us. Like that’s any different from the way things are now.
We then cut to the surface, where horses are running free around a smoking fire. The narrator says that the ruling women were “trained in the arts of war!” and that they “spread terror in all of the surrounding countries, bringing with them everywhere—” And the rest of this sentence is abruptly cut off. Bringing with them everywhere what? Cookies? Flowers? It’s killing me! I have to know!
Some of the smoke clears, and we see a flaming cart. Wow! A flaming cart! They really are spreading terror!
The narrator then resumes his lecture. “The rare women who dared rebel against this form of government were segregated!” At this, we see three women in standard combination slave girl/warrior togs standing on a triangular platform that’s ringed with spikes. On the edges of the triangle, a crowd of more warrior women stand around watching. One of the three warrior woman in the triangle has got a big, cross-like thingee that looks like a straightedge, and another has a machete. The narrator gleefully describes how the segregated, rebellious women “were trained as gladiatrices to fight against each other!”
We then cut to the third warrior woman in the triangle, and she’s swinging a mace high in the air. This reveals that she’s got a healthy patch of underarm hair. [!] She swings her mace and hits Machete Girl right in the eye. I guess my mom was right. You can put an eye out with that thing!
The narrator cheerfully tells us that this was “the first time in human history that humans were forced to kill one another in mortal combat!” Or, as I prefer to call it, Mortal Kombat.
Apparently, these women had to engage in Mortal Kombat “for the inhuman pleasure of a bloodthirsty queen!” We watch Mace Girl and Straightedge Girl face off until they find that in the Gladiatrix version of Paper Rock Scissors, “mace” beats “straightedge”, and Straightedge Girl goes down.
The credits roll, and we cut to a gal with a black helmet on her head shaped like a Smurf hat. She’s also wearing Roman-looking togs, and she pounds on a horn-shaped drum. Then we pan down the white cliffs to see somebody’s kinky subdom fantasy as a horde of shirtless men marches forward, kneeling down every so often so that an accompanying horde of Smurf-headed women can shoot off arrows. I’m not sure what’s happening here, but they sure are wasting a lot of arrows.
Next, we see the bloodthirsty queen herself as she walks through some caves, while being closely followed by her women servants. To a lengthy shot of the cave’s interior, we see the following text:
THE PRODUCERS WISH TO EXPRESS
I mean, normally a movie would put this kind of credit at the end, but I guess the producers were really, really grateful. I just have one question. What is Postumia? And what’s a Grottoe? And what’s a Yugoslave? Actually, I think I used to know somebody who drove a Yugoslave back in the 80’s.
For a split second, we see something white floating around in the cave. Then we abruptly cut to a white-haired young woman with a voice that echoes like crazy. She’s got glitter on her face and bright pink lipstick on, so I’m assuming she just came from a rave. First, she reassures the queen that “your kingdom will remain in the hands of women!” Uh, wouldn’t it technically be called a “queendom” then?
Regardless, Raver Chick says there’s a catch, because one day soon there “shall appear a man so powerful and strong as to overcome the concerted strength of 101 of the strongest of your war—” And so much for the rest of that sentence.
We then cut to the queen, who, for no particular reason, just happens to be black. She silently glowers at the Raver Chick, who says, “He will not combat with any weapon! He will exercise only his bare physical strength! If you should not succeed in defeating this man, he will overthrow your throne!” Little does the queen know that this “vision” is the product of Raver Chick taking too much ecstasy.
We then cut back to the queen, who naturally doesn’t look too happy about this. Raver Chick continues: “You will seek his name among the descendants of Taurus!” Well, I’m a Virgo, so thankfully I’m excluded.
In closing, Raver Chick adds, “I have told you… only that which time… will verify!” Well, alright, then. Thanks for stopping by. Raver Chick starts slowly floating backwards. The queen immediately turns to a servant named Yamad and tells her to issue a “proclamation” that whoever finds this man “shall be rewarded with a thousand male slaves!”
The queen turns and we see that her supposed crown looks like a colander, only with some gold trimming to make it look vaguely Egyptian. She leaves and Yamad files out after her, and right behind Yamad are several women with golden headgear like the Hindu goddess Vishnu.
We then get an excruciatingly long shot of the Raver Chick slowly floating backwards into the inner recesses of the cave, which for some reason are now glowing bright red. We then cut to… um, another part of the cave, I guess. Some men are standing guard, and the queen suddenly appears.
Within this cavern, we find several Gladiatrices all flailing their arms in a quasi sieg heil salute. They all chant something that sounds like, “Elt! Elt! Elt, elt, elt!” Two four six eight, show us how you masturbate! We see three women standing in the center of the cavern. From left to right, there’s a woman in a flowing red garment who looks like a fat version of Demi Moore, a Gladiatrix, and a woman dressed like Mother Theresa.
One of the Smurf-headed women drags forward the fat version of Demi Moore so that she can address the queen. This woman starts describing a powerful man who might just be the guy described by Raver Chick.
As she speaks of him, we jerkily flash back to a strongman, supposedly our titular hero, in a cage sparring with a guy in an ape suit [!]. This causes an instant Stock Footage Alert, because even though we only see him from the back, it’s tough not to notice this guy has dark hair. (The real Thor, when we see him, will have red hair.)
Fat Demi Moore describes how he “succeeded in killing the beast with the sole strength of his bare hands!” The flashback continues, and we get a long sequence of Man Vs. Ape Suit as they grapple in the cage, with Thor getting thrown to the ground.
Thor eventually pushes the Ape Suit Guy off, by, um, steepling his hands together or something. We return to Fat Demi Moore saying that he killed the beast, but unfortunately we don’t get to see that. I guess there was no stock footage of it.
The queen demands to know where this guy is, and Fat Demi Moore tells her the “Mountains of Harr!” Now that she’s spilled her guts, a Smurf Head drags her back in line with the other two women.
Another Smurf Head drags the Mother Theresa-wannabe forward. We close in on her and find that, unlike how we remember Mother Theresa, she’s young and chubby. She describes seeing a man fighting a pride of lions, and then we cut to extremely choppy, Ridley Scott-like stock footage of that happening. “A man was in a lair!” Mother Theresa cries in voiceover. “With very high and jagged walls, where a family of lions had made its den!”
In the flashback, we quickly see the strongman start to stroke the lions, and pet them like kitty cats. Mother Theresa says that “The wild beasts not only did not attack, as though fearing his strength, but played with him as though he were their friend!” And this particular stand-in for Thor has got on a terrifically bad wig, which he just may have loaned from the stunt double for John Stamos.
Back in the present, somebody yells something and a Smurf Head pushes Mother Theresa back in line. Then the Smurf Head pulls forth the third woman, who’s a hot, stacked brunette with her hands tied to a little portable mini-stockade that goes around her back. She’s also wearing the same brown off-the-shoulder number as all of the other Gladiatrices, and there’s a couple of bracelets on her upper arm.
She announces to the queen that her name is something that sounds like “Gayblegorf”. Or maybe it’s “Dumbledore” or “Dusseldorf”, but it doesn’t really matter. She first butters up the queen by telling her that her royal “generosity” permits her “to give heed to one of your Gladiatrices!” Dumbledore then proposes a trade off. She’ll bring in the strongman in exchange for freedom, and the opportunity to join the queen’s “glorious army”.
By the way, I can now say for certain that it’s very cold down in the “Grottoes of Yugoslave”. For one thing, we can see Dumbledore’s breath as she speaks. For another, well, let’s just say that there’s a really obvious indicator of how cold she is. In fact, let’s just say there’s two really obvious indicators of how cold she is.
The queen wants to know how Dumbledore knows the strongman, and in this part of the scene, the ends of sentences are getting chopped off like crazy. Dumbledore says that, “Your war—” Then she says, “—captured me in the forests of Harr, the home of Thor, for that is his n—” Damn! Talk about shoddy editing.
“Thor?” the queen asks. “What does that signify, ‘Thor’?” Brain and brain, what is brain? Dumbledore explains that the name Thor “derives from Taurus, from whom he descends!” And, also, it was ripped off from Norse mythology. And from Marvel Comics. “And,” Dumbledore adds, “It is said that his strength is beyond measure!”
“Thor?” the queen asks again. Yes! Thor! Are you deaf, lady? The queen calls out to Yamad, who in response strikes a model pose. The queen tells Yamad to head for the mountains of Harr, and that Dumbledore “will act as your guide! I want this man brought before me… alive!” Huh? Alive? Does anybody get this? Given what the Raver Chick told her, wouldn’t she just want him killed on sight? I can’t think of a single good reason to keep him alive, but then again, I’m not an inhuman, bloodthirsty queen.