Retro Review: Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck (1988)

I have must have seen this movie a dozen times. Each time I can’t understand why I like it.

Maybe because there is something primal about it. Maybe it just takes me back to basics.

You know (beats on chest) ‘Me, Ape Man and You, Jane’ kind of logic.

It is obviously a really bad movie and any other critic probably would hate it but I am here to confess I quite enjoy this movie and here is why.

David Keith (Officer & Gentlemen & The Rose) stars as Tennessee Buck, a great white hunter who lives in a small river village in Borneo.

Here he is the king of the land and basically runs his hunting tour business out of the village. Buck is also a drunk and womanizer but the backwoods who cares not everyone has the wide-eyed innocence of Crocodile Dundee.

The movie picks up when rich snobs Ken and Barbara Manchester (Brant Van Hoffman, Kathy Shower) arrive in Buck’s town.

Ken has promised Barbara an adventure of a lifetime for their honeymoon. They are going to hunt tigers in the jungle. Barbara is not impressed and Ken is in over his head. (And, yes, their names are intentional. They are basically Jungle Safari Ken & Barbie).

The Manchesters hire Buck to take them into the jungle for the hunt. Their adventure hits a deadly snag when they are captured by blood-thirsty cannibals. Can Buck save the day? Will he get his party out of the jungle alive?

It’s a basic story (Indiana Jones type ripoff), a basic premise, two-dimensional characters and silly dialogue but I really do like it. Why pray tell? Because it never apologizes for what it is.

Not to mention the pretext and writing is kind of humorous in many places. I am not sure if the humor is intentional but it is there. You have a stereotypical hero but you still cheer for him.

Plus I also love the fact that no matter how unpolitically correct this guy is you still want him to win because who likes cannibals. He might as well have been fighting Nazis.

The movie is directed by star David Keith and this was the only film he ever directed which he also starred. Why Keith picked this movie to direct I have no idea. The script and story was conceived by a couple TV writers but thanks to Keith’s keen direction and charisma there is something more going on here. He also seems to be the only one actually acting in the movie.

Also what guy doesn’t love Playboy Playmate Kathy Shower circa 1988? She can’t act and her character is named after a Barbie Doll. She looks like one!

Yes she is treated quite badly in the film (prepared for sacrifice and raped) but these are cannibals and they are extremely primal.

You could almost compare these scenes to that of the primal nature of Starz’s series Spartacus except by 1988 standards.

The preparation scene or infamous oil rubdown might as well have been shot by Playboy. And the rape scene in retrospect is really tame. Her and the cannibal are never shown on screen at the same time. Just her face being pushed down by a hand (could be anyone) and then the cannibal making a strange face. Everyone remembers the scene as much more graphic. But it is kind of Texas Chainsaw logic.

You when it comes down to it, the reason I might like this film would be going back to when I used play with my Gi Joe action figures. I always thought Ken was gay. I mean what straight guy needs that many outfits and half them are pastel colors? So what I would do is have my Gi Joe do a convert mission to save Barbie from an unsatisfactory marriage. He would storm her Dream House and drive off with Barbie in her pink Corvette. In some ways, I guess Buck is my Gi Joe. So there you have it, primal instinct at its basic.

I do love jungle tales. There is just something about going back to basics.

Soothsayer rating: 3 out of 5

Everyone else: 1 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

One thought on “Retro Review: Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck (1988)

  1. Great film. Used to watch this film back in the 90’s many times myself. Highlight of the film is Kathy being stripped naked and forcefully oiled up by the native women. Shame that scene is only a minute long, should have been longer. I have heard that there is uncut version with the oil rubdown scene lasting 3 mins but it’s just a rumour as no-one has found this elusive version.

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