Friday, 1 August 2014

Treasure of Tayopa (1974)



This is a movie featuring not one but two narrators, which should tell you right from the word go that it's going to be rubbish.  And with one crazy-eyed exception, it is.

Narrator one tells us the legend of the lost treasure of Tayopa, and the fact that many expeditions - all unsuccessful - have all set out to find it.

We then dissolve to the latest such expedition, being organised by Kathryn Delgado.  Ms Delgado has asked her friend Tom to organise the men for this expedition, and old Tom seems to have interpreted that request as 'hire the first couple of guys you find in a bar'.  One of the men seems okay, if not that bright, but the other - the unfortunately named Sally - is clearly a nutjob.  He's also, thanks to the manic intensity of actor Phil Trapani (in what appears to be his only acting credit), the only entertaining thing in the film.

The group heads into Mexico in search of the treasure, Sally kissing his crossbow as they go (yes, really).  While travelling in the badlands, they come under some low level harassment from the locals.  Sally is riled up with this, and wants to head back and see what the Mexicans are up to.  Or so he says, anyway.  Tom initially resists the idea, but soon demonstrates he's as good a leader as recruiter, and gives way.

As Sally heads back, we cut to the Mexicans, who are debating whether to kill the Americans and take Kathryn, or wait for the Americans to die in the wilderness and take Katheryn.  This planning session is cut short by Sally turning up and killing them.

I'm not sure what the movie was going for here.  I mean, the script's made it clear that Sally is a dangerous loon, but on the other hand he was clearly right to think the Mexicans meant harm to his group, so his attack (while unjustified based on what he knew) was actually probably the best way to keep them all safe.  It's odd.

Now as it happens, one Mexican left just before Sally turns up, and he'll now pursue the Americans for the rest of the movie.  Other than stealing their horses though, he won't actually do anything.  It's remarkably random.  (I have actually seen a review online that says this character will ultimately save Kathryn and 'get the girl', but nothing of the sort happens: either there are two versions of the film or that reviewer got so bored they stopped paying attention and just guessed how it ended).

Ultimately, of course, you know Sally's going to explode.  He assaults Kathryn, leaving her for dead, and murders the other two men.  But Kathryn's not done.  She caves in his head with a rock, and then later does the same to a rattlesnake.  I smell symbolism.  She then guts and eats the snake, in a scene I suspect is genuinely a snake being cut open.  It's a little too convincing to be anything else.  Then she gets rescued by a priest.  The end.

Yeah, I just spoiled the whole film.  It's a public service, since now there is absolutely no reason for you to waste your time with it.

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