Pros: Tanya Roberts was yummy back in those days
Cons: Everything else
Sheena is a very bad B-movie from 1984 that stars Tanya Roberts as the Queen of the Jungle. This movie is supposed be about a female version of Tarzan and is based on a comic book from many decades ago. Bad dialogue delivered by bad actors in scant clothing makes this movie fun to make fun of with a group of friends, which is exactly how I saw it a few days ago.
This movie is set in Africa and opens showing a white couple and their young daughter driving through the jungle in a Range Rover when they find a man buried up to his neck in the dirt. When they get out to investigate, a tribe of people emerge from the trees with drums and torches and begin a healing ceremony to pull the naked man out of the ground. The three white people are fascinated by this and decide to hang out with the peaceful tribe for a little while.
While there with the tribe, the little girls parents fall victim to a cave-in. This leaves the girl to be raised by the tribe, and they give her the name of Sheena. We never see her familys Range Rover again. Next, the movie shows the girl at about 10 years of age and shes hunting in a loincloth. Sorry, but it made me a bit uncomfortable to watch a shirtless girl that old running around like that. Some sick people might just eat that kind of scenery up.
Finally, we get to see Sheena all grown up and looking like Tanya Roberts did twenty years ago. Shes introduced while taking a shower at a waterfall, so the audience is treated to a full body nude side profile. The movie goes way downhill from there. The rest of the story is about an American reporter who accidentally captures an assassination on videotape and Sheenas tribe is being pinned for the murder. It is up to the reporter and Sheena to fight off the real bad guys and save the day. Naturally, the two form a romantic bond while this is going on.
The only thing about this movie that really impressed me, besides Tanya Roberts, was the use of animals. Like a good Tarzan movie, this one is full of lions and elephants and monkeys, and the animals all play into the plot. I know it isnt easy, or safe, to be running around with these type creatures, but they are handled well for this film. There is one part where a guy is on the ground at the feet of a huge lion, and I know that had to be scary for the actor.
While this might be classified as an action movie, there isnt a lot of it. There are a few gunfights, but they mostly involve a lot of shooting from one side while the other dodges bullets. It does show bullets hitting the ground around the feet of the local wildlife, which was probably tough to film.
The screenplay for this movie was written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Newman, both of whom have experience with doing comic-to-screen adaptations. Semple had worked on the original Batman TV series as well as the Flash Gordon movie. Newman, an Oscar nominee for Bonnie and Clyde, had also written the first three Superman movies. Both of these guys had good and bad movies to their credit, but I think this is one theyd probably leave off their resume.
I recently watched the great fighter pilot movie The Blue Max and was shocked to see that John Guillermin had directed it as well as this stinker. In fact, he got a Razzie nomination for his work on this movie. The Razzies also nominated this movie for worst actress, picture, screenplay, and music.
In many ways, Sheena was the Catwoman of 1984.