Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Treasure of Jamaica Reef (1975)

Among of the worst movies of the ’70s, this amateur-hour adventure—which tries and fails to deliver comedy, excitement, and underwater grandeur—would almost certainly have disappeared from the face of the earth had its leading lady not achieved fleeting sex-symbol status a few years after the picture was made. The woman in question is Charlie’s Angels beauty Cheryl Ladd (billed here as Cheryl Stoppelmoor), and it says most of what you need to know about this cinematic atrocity that she plays a perky treasure hunter named Zappy. Check, please! But, no, sadly, there’s a movie to watch, or at least endure. Zappy gathers her pals, played by Z-listers including studio-era hunk Stephen Boyd and future game-show host Chuck Woolery (sporting a pimp beard of which Superfly would be proud), for a trip to Jamaica, as it seems Zappy has acquired salvage rights for a sunken wreck in which treasure is supposedly hidden. The plot is virtually nonexistent, with a few throwaway scenes of crooks trying to steal a treasure map from our heroes, so the interminable movie comprises endless diving scenes, often with absolutely nothing of interest happening. Making the whole thing even more painful to watch is clunky narration that’s clearly used to add a measure of coherence to the disjointed footage, plus music that would have been cut from a children’s cartoon for being too cutesy. The only novel element, besides the not-unpleasant sight of Ladd cavorting in a bikini, is the bizarre casting of former football pro Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier as the heroes’ boat captain. He spends most of his time giving Ladd diving lessons (because, of course, the character who initiated the treasure hunt isn’t qualified to dive), and the sight of enormous Grier splashing around with tiny Ladd—well, it’s not exactly interesting, but it’s almost something, which is more than can be said of the rest of the picture. (FYI, this movie was later reissued as Evil in the Deep, and given a silly shark-centric poster, in a crass attempt to hop aboard the Jaws train.)

The Treasure of Jamaica Reef: SQUARE


Pablocoislocoyup said...

I saw this movie in a movie theatre!

BillyWitchDoctor said...

The re-edited version known as Evil in the Deep also had a bunch of gore scenes incompetently shoehorned into it along with some hokum about the treasure map being cursed, so at least there's some violence to wake the viewer up once in a while. (For example, there's a chase scene in which our heroes pursue their stolen vehicle. In Treasure of Jamaica Reef, the car wrecks and the thief scrambles out and runs away; in Evil in the Deep the thief's brains are scrambled and run down the windshield.)

The long trailer for Evil in the Deep is wonderfully narrated by William Marshall of Blackula.