The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak (1984)

Honestly, the fact that it’s taken me so long to get this movie up on our site is a major failure that I’d like to personally apologize for to each of you.

Dear reader, I am sorry.

Even a teenage Sam, looking furtively for prurient content late night on HBO and Cinemax knew that this movie, also known as Gwendoline, is one strange movie. It’s one part comic book adaption of the Bizarre BDSM comic strip Sweet Gwendoline by John Willie, one part old movie serial, one part softcore nudie and another part Raiders of the Lost Ark ripoff. A lot of that mixture adds up and even when the movie starts to sputter, you still have to admire it for what it is.

If you haven’t seen it, well…you pretty much must.

After being captured by thieves and sold into white slavery, Gwendoline (Tawny Kitaen, as if you need another reason to watch this) is rescued by Willard (Brent Huff, Nine Deaths of the Ninja) and reunited with her maid Beth (French actress Zabou Breitman). It turns out that she is in China searching for the butterfly that her father spent his whole life looking for. And now, she has offered Willard money to take her to the land of Yik-Yak, which is filled with cannibals and a tribe of Amazon warriors who ride each other like horses and engage in gladiator battles.

That’s because the last time the volcano went off, all the men died and somehow, the women have survived by capturing men and having those violent battles to determine which woman gets to procreate with their prisoners of war, as decided by their queen (Bernadette Lafont, who was the face of French New Wave).

Oh yeah — and there’s also the villainous D’Arcy (whose likeness was based on creator Willie and is played here by Jean Rougerie, who was in A View to a Kill) who keeps tormenting our heroine and the fact that she has to make love to Willard while the queen watches and a volcano goes off. You know, just another ordinary day.

This was the last film made by Just Jaeckin, who fogged up the screen with 1974’s Emmanuelle and 1981’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, two movies that would play infinitely on Cinemax on Friday nights at 1:10 AM and made a legion of teenage boys get weak in the knees at the very mention of the name Sylvia Kristel.

The U.S. theatrical version of this movie clocks in at around 87 minutes, while the more libertine French cut is 105 minutes long. As for what is in those 28 exorcised minutes, I invited you to use your imagination, or better, just order the Severin blu ray, which also has interviews with creators Jackin and Willie.

It’s way better than it has any right to be and is one of the few sexy movies to be both a complete story, a rip-roaring adventure yarn and have actual palpable sexual tension. I’m so glad that I was finally able to get it up here on the site — pardon the obvious pun — and recommend that if you’re an open-minded grown-up that you check it out for yourself.

Join us as we pay tribute to the late Tawny Kitaen’s career with our exploration of her films.

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