Africa: As a child, Joan Lawrence (Marilyn Spinner), was taken away
into the deep deep jungle via balloon in which she hid when playing
hide-and-seek with her friend David Worth (Dickie Jones). Since that time,
David (as an adult played by Reed Howes) hasn't stopped looking for her
... not because he likes the game so much but to bring her back to her
parents. Finally he finds her, being the cruel queen of a native tribe
that worships an idol that shoots radium rays from its eyes - an idol that
is operated by the tribe's high priest Kali (Lafe McKee), a white man who
wants to keep the secret of the tribe's radium for himself.
David is captured by the natives, but just before he is sacrificed to
the idol too, Joan learns that he is her childhood friend David, and
decides to spare him, much to the dismay of High Priest Kali, who realizes
he can no longer control Joan ... so she orders her and David both
sacrificed. Somehow though, David can not only make good his escape, he
also manages to break her free and convince her to come with him ... and
she helps their escape by calling her friends, the elephants, to stampede.
The escape of David and Joan is nt without perils hough, the have to
fight the usual lions and leopards but also a murderous Tree Man and his
killer apes, plus Joan is temporarily blinded and sent down a waterfall in
a row boat (but of course she's saved and given eyesight again).
Eventually, the two cross path with Captain Blake (Robert Borman), who
promises them safe passage on his ship ... but actually, he knows who Joan
is and wants her to lead him to the radium. It all ends in a horde of
lions attacking Blake's ship, with David and joan escaping only just.
Suddenly they are closer to Joan's tribe once more than in a long time,
and one night, when they camp with a group of friendly beduines, Kali
actually enters the camp trying to kill Joan ... but the Leopard Woman,
whose life was once saved by David and Joan, has come to return the
favour, and she lets her leopards loose on the camp, an attack during
which Kali is eventually killed.
Finally, Kali's chief henchman Gura captures not only Joan and David
but also Joan's father (William J.Walsh), who has since his daughter's
disappearance roamed the jungle looking for both radium and his daughter,
but now that he has found them both, it looks as if it's already too late
because Gura wants to feed him to the lions. But then Gura is shot by the
friendly beduines, and suddenly Gura's tribe is no longer evil, they set
their prisoners free just like that, and now that David, Joan and Joan's
father are reunited, everything ends happily ...
A weird little serial: Most of the action and jungle sequences of Queen
of the Jungle were lifted from the 1922 serial The Jungle Goddess
directed by William N.Selig (that is nowadays considered lost). Thing is,
the earlier serial was recorded at 18 frames per second (which was common
in the silent era), while the rest was recorded at the more customary 24
frames per second of the sound era. However, no efforts were made to slow
the old footage down to match with the 24 frame standard, so the silent
footage just moves a tad too fast, which is clearly visible in many
scenes. Plus, the sound effects (most often of natives mumbling, for some
reason) is not always very convincing (to say the least) and sometimes
even unintentionally funny.
That all said, Queen of the Jungle is still quite entertaining
if you are prepared to overlook its obvious shortcomings, a piece of naive
escapism with plenty of action, excitement and exotic locales. Not great,