Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989)

How weird is it when Bill Maher shows up in a movie and you don’t expect it? Like his roles in D.C. Cab or Pizza Man? Or when he shows up in the party scenes of Ratboy and House II?  But would you ever expect him to play the Indiana Jones of a jungle adventure movie?

The government is worried that our nation’s avocado supply is low — spoiler warning, this has happened several times, including once when I nearly got to make a post-apocalyptic Commerical for Wholly Guacamole before the price increases of avocado attacked that company’s fortunes — because of the Piranha cannibal women who live in the mysterious avocado jungles of San Bernardino. Well, they don’t eat women. They only eat men. So the powers that be send Professor Margo Hunt (Shannon Tweed), jungle guide Jim (Maher) and Bunny, an undergraduate student.

Along the way, they meet the men who serve the Piranhas — known as the Donnahews* — and learn that the last professor who went into the jungle — Dr. Kurtz (Adrienne Barbeau) — has gone feral and become the queen of the cannibals. This makes the second female society movie this week that Ms. Barbeau features in as the leader of women while also the first where her name is a Joseph Conrad joke. At least she got to kidnap Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Burial of the Rats.

There’s also another tribe of cannibal women, the Barracuda Women, and their main argument with the Avocado Women is over what condiment — clam dip or guacamole — goes best with male flesh.

Director J. F. Lawton would go on to write Pretty WomanUnder SiegeBlankman and create the Pam Anderson series V.I.P. Oh yeah, he also wrote the video game adaption Dead or Alive, the only one of those movies to feature a cast that includes Eric Roberts and Kevin Nash, who should definitely make a buddy cop movie together.

It’s pretty astounding that a movie that should totally be a softcore junk movie can somehow be an exploration of feminism while making fun of Cannibal Holocaust and have a character named after Conrad collaborator Ford Maddox Ford. It’s also a movie that dares to feature Shannon Tweed as a feminist professor and theorizes that there are light and dark sides to feminism, as if it is The Force.

You can watch this on Tubi.

*In 1989, this joke would have made sense, as it refers to Phil Donahue, whose feminist-slanted TV show really pushed that men should become more emotional. It wouldn’t be funny, but at least it would have made more sense.

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