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Die Pyramide des Sonnengottes

Pyramid of the Sun God
Les Mercenaires du Rio Grance / I Violenti di Rio Bravo

West Germany/Yugoslavia/France/Italy 1965
produced by
Artur Brauner, Götz Dieter Wulf for CCC-Filmkunst, Avala Film, Serena-Film, Franco-London-Film
directed by Robert Siodmak
starring Lex Barker, Michèle Girardon, Gérard Barray, Rik Battgaglia, Ralf Wolter, Hans Nielsen, Gustavo Rojo, Theresa Lorca, Kelo Henderson, Alessandra Panaro, Jean-Roger Caussimon, Antun Nalis, Milivoje Popovic-Mavic, Branimir Tori Jankovic, Nada Radovic, Petar Buntic, Petar Obradovic, Jovan Rancic, Willy Egger, Rolf Rolphs, Jovan Nikolic, John Kirby, Nikola Milic, Aleksandar Djuric, Marijan Habazin
screenplay by Ladislas Fodor, Robert A.Stemmle, Georg Marischka, based on the novel by Karl May, music by Erwin Halletz

Karl Sternau, Karl May at CCC-Filmkunst

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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For the set-up to this film, read/watch Der Schatz der Azteken.

Karl Sternau (Lex Barker) has been saved from certain death by Aztec Princess Karja (Theresa Lorca) and temporarily brought to the cave where the secret great Aztec treasure is hidden. Later, when he's back at Don Pedro's (Hans Nielsen) hacienda, he can't stop thinking about the Aztec gold ... and so can all the baddies involved:

- Don Alfonso (Gérard Barray) thinks he can get to the treasure by marrying Karja and then killing her - and really he manages to sweettalk her into giving away the location of the cave, then pushes her off some cliffs, but somehow she survives,

- Capitan Verdoja (Rik Battaglia) thinks the way to the treasure is either known by Sternau or by Don Pedro's daughter Rosita (Alessandra Panaro), both of whom he captures eventually ... but Sternau naturally escapes,

- French Marshall Bazaine (Jean-Michel Caussimon) doesn't really have a clear strategy, he's just evil,

- then there's Cortejo (Antun Nalis), who bets his money on Don Alfonso and follows him to wherever, only to be eventually killed by him,

- there's of course evi Indian Chieftain Black Deer (Milivoje Popovic-Mavic), who is in league with Verdoja and really thinks Verdoja will share fair and square,

- and then there's Josefa (Michèle Girardon), who has conspired with each and every of them against all the others in order to get her hands on the gold no matter what ... but instead she's ultimately killed by Verdoja, once he has decided he prefers Rosita to her ...

The finale has massive chases through the titular Pyramid of the Sun God, which serves as Verdoja's HQ and is full of secret passageways and torture instruments, until in the end, Don Alfonso arrives at the Aztec's secret cave, where he has to confront the thought-dead Karja once more, and he shoots her in cold blood ... only to then be shot by Verdoja and Black Deer, who have managed to pick up his trail. However, when Flathouani (Jovan Nikolic), guardian of the treasure, sees the men trying to steal the Aztec gold, he simply releases the lava from the next-door volcano onto them and kills them all, at the same time destroying the Aztec gold.

When Sternau and company arrive at the cave in hot pursuit of Verdoja, everything is already over.

Once again, Ralf Wolter plays Sternau's comic sidekick ...

 

If you have already seen Der Schatz der Azteken, you can't help but feeling seeing just more of the same (rather unsurprisingly because the films were shot back-to-back). Die Pyramide des Sonnengottes is gradually better though because it doesn't waste too much time with setting up the story (this has already been done in Der Schatz der Azteken), and it features an impressive set of an Aztec Pyramid and explores many of the options the set offers. On the other hand though, the film loses many of the subplots set up in the first film (e.g. the Mexican revolution is hardly mentioned at all) and offers hardly any character development.

Summing it all up, the fim, like its predecessor, looks like a decently budgeted and competently directed Western/adventure serial, it's fun to look at (if serials and serial-like films are your sort of thing), but it's far from being great and is not the film veteran director Robert Siodmak deserves to be judged by ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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