Saturday, December 3, 2011

#474. Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold (1984)

Directed By: Matt Cimber

Starring: Laurene Landon, Ken Roberson, Cihangir Gaffari

Tag line: "Behind its walls, the treasure of kings. Getting in is easy. Getting out... impossible!"

Trivia:  12 seconds were cut from the UK version to attain a "15" rating, removing shots of horses falling into a pit

I gotta hand it to the creative minds behind Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold: their film has a very clever opening. In a crowded theater, a bunch of rambunctious kids are tearing through the aisles when, suddenly, the projector switches on, sending them scurrying to their seats. The movie is the next chapter in an adventure serial titled, oddly enough, Yellow Hair and The Fortress of Gold. The kids cheer when the heroes, Yellow Hair (Laurene Landon) and the Pecos Kid (Ken Roberson), are introduced, and boo at the sight of the effeminate Col. Torres (Luis Lorenzo) and his evil henchman, Flores (Aldo Sambrell). It's a great way to kick off the mindless fun, which is exactly what Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold is going to be. 

Yellow Hair, a beautiful blonde who can hold her own in a fight, lives among the Apaches. Her best friend is the Pecos Kid, who's just gotten himself into a bit of trouble. Having promised to lead the greedy Col. Torres to a fortune in gold, Pecos failed to mention it was being guarded by a tribe known as the Tulpan, a group of ancient warriors tasked with protecting the treasure hidden deep within their mountain. When Flores and his men are chased off by the Tulpan, an angry Torres throws Pecos in jail. He's eventually rescued by Yellow Hair, but when Yellow's mother, Grey Cloud (Claudia Gravy), is murdered by Flores in retaliation, both she and Pecos set out to exact a little revenge of their own. 

Much like the old-time serials it pays homage to, Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold is jam-packed with excitement. Immediately following the opening credits is the stand-off between Flores' gang and the Tulpan, who are lined up along the side of their mountain, ready for battle. As one of Flores' bandits rides forward, a rope descends and catches him around the neck, stringing him up until he's dead. Then, a barrage of stones come crashing down, causing Flores and his men to scatter. While racing off, three henchmen inadvertently steer their horses into a deep ravine, resulting in a truly awesome effect (one I'm sure had animal rights activists seeing red). Now, that's how you start an adventure film! 

Naturally, I didn't expect the movie to maintain such a break-neck pace, but to its credit, it sure as hell tried. There's thrills aplenty in Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold, which is a good thing, because when it does slow down, what we're left with is loads of inane dialogue and a handful of weak performances (Laurene Landon's beauty far outweighs her talent). Fortunately, it never stays quiet for long. Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold is a simple motion picture with an even simpler story, and this definitely works to its advantage.

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