Blu Review – The Cardona Collection: Vol. 1 (Vinegar Syndrome)

Blu Release – 4/5

Treasure of the Amazon
Director – Rene Cardona Jr. (Beaks: The Movie, Under Siege)
Starring – Stuart Whitman (Night of the Lepus, Deadly Intruder), Donald Pleasence (Halloween, Prince of Darkness), and Bradford Dillman (The Enforcer, Sudden Imapct)
Release Date – 1985
Rating – 3.5/5

Tagline – “Their greed and lust for diamonds was more deadly than the perils of the jungle”

Sometime ago Vinegar Syndrome announced a new box set featuring three films from Mexican filmmaker Rene Cardona Jr. I’m a sucker for box sets and anything from Vin Syn so it was guaranteed that I would be snagging this one up. When my Vin Syn box finally arrived I couldn’t wait to dig into it and decided to set my sights on the Cardona set. The first film in the set is the 1985 action adventure film Treasure of the Amazon featuring a role from genre legend Donald Pleasence.

**Spoiler Alert** The film follows several groups of explorers who are traveling deep in the jungle in hopes of finding riches. However, what they actually find is greed amongst each other and the local tribes that call the jungle their home. **Spoiler Alert**

I was genuinely excited to check this one out and it didn’t disappoint. It was a lot of fun and not what I expected from a mid-80s action adventure film. It really was a surprise. The acting in this one is great. Pleasence came out of nowhere with his German accent. It does feel forced at times but it’s a lot of fun especially if you have seen his other films. He really dedicates himself to the role and I really enjoyed it. Whitman is great as the film’s star, Gringo. He carries the film on his back and does a fantastic job. Sadly, this film is not a typical 80s action flick so you don’t see his name pop up like other 80s stars. The supporting cast is solid but very inconsistent. Some people are more dedicated than others which creates some very uneven scenes.

The story for this one is extremely entertaining and straight forward. We have a lot of adventure as the cast navigates the perils of the jungle while the scene sets up character development. It is predictable but the characters make it so much fun especially if you like the adventure films that spawned after the success of Indiana Jones.

Finally, the film has some blood and a few graphic death scenes that I was not expecting. The practical effects look great and two death scenes really stood out. I’d recommend watching this film just on those two death scenes alone. Overall, Treasure of the Amazon may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I’m a sucker for 0s action adventure flicks. This one was great fun with an amazing cast. I highly recommend it.

Special Features:
Region Free Blu-ray
Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original negative
Still gallery
English SDH subtitles

The Bermuda Triangle
Director – Rene Cardona Jr. (Treasure of the Amazon, Cyclone)
Starring – John Huston (The Black Cauldron, The Return of the King), Andres Garcia (Hospital Central, King of Texas), and Hugo Stiglitz (Cemetery of Terror, Nightmare City)
Release Date – 1978
Rating – 2.5/5

My Rene Cardona Jr. marathon continues! After watching the insanely fun action adventure film Treasures of the Amazon I decided I would keep it going and toss in the 1978 sci-fi horror film The Bermuda Triangle. A few weeks ago I was able to check out the new UHD release of Blue Undergrounds The Final Countdown which was another sci-fi film centered around the Bermuda triangle. I was looking forward to checking this one out because I had a lot of fun with The Final Countdown.

**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a group of people on a ship traveling through the Bermuda triangle with plans of conducting underwater photography. However, strange things begin to happen and an underwater earthquake results in the serious injury of one of the women. The people on the boat must sort through the madness as more mysteries present themselves. **Spoiler Alert**

I was very excited for The Bermuda Triangle but within a matter of minutes I found myself struggling to finish it. It’s not a bad film but it’s one that I couldn’t help but dislike. The characters were my biggest obstacle but the film struggles with pacing and atmosphere as well.

The acting for this one is actually pretty good. The cast really dedicates themselves to their roles and some of the performances were very intense. The cast really does do a fantastic job but the characters they portrayed were so unlikable. There was so many times I found myself rolling my eyes or waiting for them to die. It’s damn near impossible to find someone in the film to associate with. This really does affect the film, at least it does for me.

The story for this one feels like half an idea with no pay off. I loved the beginning of the film with the crew entering the triangle and hearing the distress call from a long lost vessel. I also liked how the story was slow to build up on the strange occurrences. However, the movie just ends. It plays back to the beginning of the film, which is somewhat clever, but leaves the viewer hanging. This feels like a film was half written before filming and something happened that prevented them from getting closure. That, or it was lazy filmmaking.

Finally, the film has a little blood and some practical effects but the effects were pretty bad. I had to take a double take when I first saw the make-up effects. They seemed rushed and very amateurish. Overall, The Bermuda Triangle is a tough one to finish. It has a great cast and a decent beginning but the unlikable characters and lazy ending makes it one I can’t recommend.

Special Features:
Region Free Blu-ray
Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original negative
“Escaping the Triangle” – an Interview with René Cardona III
“Triangle of Fear” – an interview with producer Angelo Iacono
Collection of foreign titles and credits
Still gallery
English SDH subtitles

Director – Rene Cardona Jr. (Treasure of the Amazon, The Bermuda Triangle)
Starring – Arthur Kennedy (Cave of the Sharks, Dirty World), Carroll Baker (Kindergarten Cop, Thriller), and Lionel Stander (The Transformers: The Movie, Treasure Island)
Release Date -1978
Rating – 3.5/5

Tagline – “The terror storm was only the beginning… but the sharks would be the merciless end”

When I started the Rene Cardona Jr. triple feature I was really looking forward to checking out Treasure of the Amazon. I started with that one and really enjoyed it. However, the same can not be said for the second film in the set, The Bermuda Triangle. It was a chore to finish but it did had a few fun moments. I was on the fence with Cyclone after I watched the half-assed Bermuda Triangle but once I tossed in it I was surprised to see that this was the best film in the set. I was not prepared for this hard hitting natural disaster masterpiece. The Cardona Collection Vol. 1 was worth the price for this film alone!

**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a group of tourists afloat on the open sea when a freak cyclone damages their vessel. Sometime goes by and they find a small raft afloat with more survivors of a sunken ship and a downed aircraft. They quickly find themselves without water and food. When they start to die from the heat and malnutrition they result to cannibalism in order to survive. **Spoiler Alert**

I went into this one assuming it was going to be as stale as the other Cardona flick from 1978 but I was wrong. Very wrong. Cyclone had a straight forward story that had me sitting on the edge of my seat.

The acting in this one is phenomenal. The cast was put through what looks like pure hell to pull off these shots. Their dedication to their roles could never be questioned and the characters they portrayed were so enjoyable. I loved the cast and they were a major factor in my love for this film. The story for this one is so straight forward but the atmosphere and tension is so well done that you find yourself inching forward in your seat as the scene progresses. The last 40 minutes or so of the film is absolutely fantastic and the dark realities of survival really makes this movie a must see for genre fans.

Finally, the film has plenty of blood and some light practical effects but they are not the center of the scene like most horror films. Instead, the story and characters are the focus much like the rest of the film. Overall, Cyclone is a fantastic film with a gripping story and an amazing cast. This is the jewel of this set and I highly recommend it.

Special Features:
Region Free Blu-ray
Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original negative
Includes both the English & Spanish language versions
“Surviving the Cyclone” – an Interview with René Cardona III
“The Eye of the Cyclone” – an interview with producer Angelo Iacono
“Beware of Sharks” – an interview with actress Carroll Baker
Still gallery
English SDH subtitles

Written by Blacktooth

(Staff Writer) Lover of all things horror and metal. Also likes boobs and booze.

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