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SHEENA - 3 Slimes
Rated PG (How in the world?)
Copyright 1984 Columbia Pictures
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 21 July 2002

The Characters:  

  • Sheena - Tanya Roberts! The Zambuli tribe raises her as a blonde goddess of the jungle. Boy, can she run.
  • Vic Casey - Reporter for Sports World. His motto? "I like my women primal."
  • Fletch - Vic's buddy, the booze hound cameraman. Constantly obsessed with time, he reminds one of the white rabbit from "Alice in Wonderland" crossed with an alcoholic. "Oh, no! I'm late for my drink!"
  • Shaman - Spiritual leader of the Zambulis and Sheena's adoptive mother. She passes on and is buried by an elephant.
  • King Jabalani - Monarchs need to be careful in selecting their friends and future wives, along with keeping an eye on possible successors to the throne. He did not. He died.
  • Princess Zanda - Jabalani's chosen bride, but she was an evil woman. She gets shoved out of a helicopter.
  • Jorgensen - Bloodthirsty leader of the mercenary force sent to destroy the Zambulis. Stabbed in the neck with a spear. Ouch.
  • Prince Otwani - Hungry for power, he orchestrates his own brother's assassination and plans to commit genocide. First he takes an arrow in the chest, then a violent motor vehicle collision turns him into human barbecue. Not the best day to be this dude.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

A guide drives two researchers and their young daughter down a dirt track somewhere in Africa. The scientists discuss pictures of a man badly afflicted with cancer. Suddenly, the truck stops when an unexpected speed bump appears in the road: a man, buried up to his neck in the red dirt. Indeed, it is the same patient from the photographs, but, as people pour from the surrounding jungle and dig him free, we can see his body is free of tumors. A huge celebration ensues, complete with music and topless dancing girls (none of the native women appeared to have, er... ...succumbed to gravity like National Geographic would have us believe is common).

The ceremony, performed by the Zambuli tribe, gives thanks for the magical healing dirt. What I want to know is who put it in the middle of the road? What moron? Can you imagine being nearly healed and then having a Land Rover run over your grape?

The scientists settle in to study the sacred mountain and the healing soil, but they are tragically mushed by a cave-in. Their blonde daughter is adopted by the tribe; in fact, Shaman hoists the traumatized youngster into the air and names her Sheena on the spot.

Sheena quickly grows into adulthood and learns the secrets of nature from Shaman. (Can you say "Montage?" Good! I knew you could.) Besides wondering how she managed to avoid becoming very tan, I was amused by the fact that it appears a young boy played Sheena during one section of the montage. Imagine going to a casting call where the major criteria is most resembling an eleven year-old girl. Yeah, that was probably good for the lad's psychological development. The sequence ends with Sheena, now an adult, riding her "zebra" along a lake while music reminiscent of "Chariots of Fire" plays.

Now, I am not saying that the music is out of place here. It is just that another tune might have better fit some other scenes. Tense chases, battles, somebody being electrocuted to death - all use the same dreamy synthesized score. I failed to notice the issue at first; it took a second viewing to catch the incongruity.

Vic and Fletch arrive to photograph the king's wedding and a football game, while Shaman travels to the city after visions warn her that Jabalani's life is in danger. The sports reporters are welcomed, but Otwani's secret police throw the Zambuli spiritualist in prison. You see, Prince Otwani wants the throne for himself and discovered that the Zambulis' sacred mountain is comprised of Titanium ore (which does explain the red/brown dirt), a potential fortune. By assassinating his brother and framing Shaman the prince looks to gain both of his desires.

The king is killed by an arrow during a formal dinner and Shaman is ushered in; the guards claim to have caught her with a bow in hand. Unfortunately for Otwani, the Sports World reporters just happened to catch the crossbow, mounted in a tree, on camera when their equipment malfunctioned. Ignore the fact that Fletch must have accidentally pressed the zoom button, because the goof means both Americans know the Zambuli priestess did not kill the king. They decide to sneak into the prison and interview Shaman.

Through a startling coincidence, Sheena reaches the prison at the same time as the reporters. The blonde jungle goddess is riding her "zebra," is accompanied by a crack chimpanzee assault team, and has an elephant for a battering ram. The poor guards never had a chance.

Vic is smitten with the girl, so he ends up with her during the flight from Otwani's troops. Fletch is sent to get the film out of the country. Few things make the dry savannah look appealing, riding bareback with Tanya Roberts is one of them. Understandably, Vic falls for Sheena and impulsively kisses her. At first Sheena responds with confusion, asking why he pressed his lips to hers (lucky she didn't think he was trying to bite her). The two eventually fall in love, but she makes him ask for nookie. Pretty obvious who wears the loincloth in this relationship...

The mercenary force, armed with automatic weapons and armored vehicles, is making good time en route to the Zambuli village. Sheena wants to delay the bad guys, so Vic directs her to shoot a flaming arrow into the fuel truck. The mission is a success, with flames engulfing the vehicle and an explosion imminent, when the mercenaries' helicopter arrives. The aircraft puts out the fire with its rotor wash, then flies around shooting at wildlife until Sheena surrenders.

Capturing the heroes was probably the worst thing that Otwani could do. Princess Zanda has a jealous streak a mile wide and the prince evidently has a weak spot for blondes. To remove the sudden competition, Zanda decides to fly the helicopter above the village and drop Sheena out. That plan fails miserably when the jungle queen summons a flock of flamingos, meaning that Zanda takes the plunge instead. Sheena dives into a tall tree just before the rotary wing aircraft hits a cliff. Meanwhile, Vic plays his trump card, threatening Otwani with the crossbow footage, and agrees to hand over the film in exchange for an end to hostilities.

Utilizing a terrain model, Sheena briefs her people on the plan of battle (Otwani has no intention of playing fair) and something like the Battle of Endor ensues. Watch for the mercenary who has one hand on the barrel of his .30 caliber machinegun; that is a hoot. If you ever meet a Marine with a blank swathe on his palm ask him if the cause was grabbing a hot machinegun barrel. In any case, the Zambulis are victorious and Otwani flees in a truck with Sheena, on her "zebra," in close pursuit. Lucky for her that Vic turned the tables on his captors and arrives just in time. The crash of his and Otwani's vehicle forcibly ejects the reporter (tsk, tsk, no seat belt) and turns him into a mass of third-degree burns. Hmmm, what could possibly save the hero?

The film is amazingly flawed at times. At many times. I just seem to have a weak spot for it. Perhaps it is the innocence displayed: a movie in which none of bad guys tries to rape the heroine and the intimate scenes between Vic and Sheena fade out before the action really starts. Unusual for Hollywood to display such restraint. Much more likely, knowing my tastes, was the incredibly silly mismatch of factors coming together just right ("zebra," music, dialog, etc.) and having an attractive leading actress didn't hurt.


Sheena is sandwiched between Jabootu's review and my own, make sure you check out Ken's article.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Echoes do kill people.
  • Secretive African tribes speak English.
  • Chimpanzees are experts at guerrilla warfare.
  • Helicopter rotors are made from malleable materials.
  • In some countries they discriminate against people with soft feet.
  • Using plastic explosive to destroy a rotten old tree is overkill.
  • Ask before you kiss somebody.
  • Zebra are the public safety officers of the savannah.
  • "Catapult" is another word for "crossbow."

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 12 mins - She summoned a hedgehog?
  • 19 mins - Tanya Roberts, naked under a waterfall. Let us give thanks for this moment.
  • 31 mins - He must be a Gemini...
  • 62 mins - It's funny when the primitive tries to use binoculars! Har, har, har!
  • 72 mins - Where is the artillery or mortar fire coming from?
  • 93 mins - "The Birds 3: Flamingo Apocalypse."
  • 107 mins - That looks painful.


  • Sheena: "Remove those strange skins you wear. From what animal do they come?"
    Vic: "The wild silk moth. It roams in Bloomingdales."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note sheena1.wav Shaman: "The prophecy has come to pass. On a day when the sacred mountain cries out, a golden god-child shall come from the depths of Gudjara. And she shall grow in wisdom, and be the protector of the Zambulis and all their creatures."
Green Music Note sheena2.wav Fletch: "You're not going to believe this Vic. I just saw a blonde."
Vic: "A blonde what?"
Fletch: "A blonde, blonde, a girl! She was swinging in the trees."
Vic: "You mean a blonde gorilla?"
Fletch: "I know the difference between a gorilla and a girl."
Green Music Note sheena3.wav Vic: "Your hair smells fantastic. What did you wash it with?"
Sheena: "Zam Zam berries. What else would a woman use?"
Green Music Note sheena4.wav Sheena: "You will be made welcome in Z'Kuru. The headman's locust bean cakes, they will be your locust bean cakes. His fermented buffalo milk will be your fermented buffalo milk. His week-old dried..."
Vic: "Please, I'm eating."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipsheena1.mpg - 3.1m
The incredible jailbreak scene, including the inappropriate musical score. It might work to make the action seem dreamlike, but the guard being electrocuted? The elephant tossing another man through the air like a rag doll?

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3 4
Reply #1. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Kooshmeister
Along with "Ghostbusters," this is the oldest film I can ever remember seeing. I first saw it on a taped Beta copy when I was about two or three, and watched it up until our Beta machine finally died sometime in 1994. I have to confess I do like this film, although as a kid my attention was held not by Tanya Roberts, but rather the multitude of cool-looking military vehicles employed by Otwani's gang. Gotta love that armored car equipped with a flame-thrower! Too bad Sheena's elephant knocked it over.

Sure, Tanya Roberts is a terrible actress and the plot's paper thin, but I like the "lengthy journey to stay ahead of the bad guys" element in the story. Lots of beautiful scenery of the African countryside, some good action sequences (in particular the overdone final battle towards the end), and some genuinely eerie moments. Oh, and, yeah, Tanya Roberts naked under a waterfall. It all makes for a wonderfully good bad movie.

And as a side note, I watch a lot of movies, and "Sheena" exhibits what has to be the most dastardly fictional act of cruelty towards animals - that being the scene where the helicopter gunship strafes the herd of gazelle(s?) in order to draw the Jungle Queen out. It's just a movie, but that scene was sick . . . still, it served its purpose and made me cheer when the 'copter crashes later.
Reply #2. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Swamprat
Oooh boy! Do I remember this one! The whole piece of crap is one big hokey tease. I have never been able to stomach Tanya Roberts since the first moment I saw her. It was in a commercial for Charlie's Angels at the start of the new season when she replaced whoever the hell it was. I remember her lines, she was standing on a balcony and says to the other two..."Come on. Let's go." Then waved a pistol...I think she was reading a cue card with instructions that said "Now wave your gun." She sucked in that one Bond movie too, but so did Roger Moore...But back to Sheena. Soundtracks can make or break any film. Nothing makes a mediocre film bloom into a full fledged turd quicker than an overblown musical theme. This film is a perfect example of this rule. Semi-naked chick, riding a zebra, with bow and arrows, to the sound of a full phillharmonic symphony of classically inspired orchestration...I think this pretty much guarantees a turd is about to drop upon the African plains. The face off against the villian in his vehicle towards the end is a real hoot. Suddenly this bad assed warrior chick is vulnerable...face it...they all succumb to sprained ankle syndrome when the serious s**t hits the fan. Wounded zebra be damned! If she'd been on foot to start with she'd still have fallen over something and would become the chick in distress for at least a minute or two. Tease...tease...tease. What good is a half naked, zebra riding, Charlie's Angel, if she ain't helpless for at least a minute or so, so the sorry assed loser male audiance...(I'm sorry, I mean TARGET audiance)...can sit there in the dark and fantasize about scooping her ass up and rushing her to safty while copping a good feel for the effort? I hate these kinda movies. I wouldn't call this a feeble attempt at action adventure...I'd call it a feeble attempt at soft porn. No matter what you might want to call it, it's still just a turd caught on film. My wife enjoyed the animals though, and cried every time one of them got zapped or flipped to the ground. Her philosophy is that people deserve what they get...the poor animals don't. I have to agree with this...the people who made this movie should have thier noses rubbed in it.
Reply #3. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by anne
I saw this when I was four years old. My innocence keep me from understanding the sexual nature, I just saw it as a movie about a girl who kicked ass and spoke to animals. I saw it recently and I couldn't stomach the bad acting and unrealistic plot, but it still holds a soft spot for me from when i was young.
Reply #4. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Vasquez
"Chimpanzees are experts at guerrilla warfare. "

Surely you mean Gorilla warfare?  


Reply #5. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Greenhornet
Yeah, when this film was shown, Linda Sterling's and Kay Aldridge's famous jungle-queen charicters (Nyoka and the Tiger Woman. Hey! That sounds like great team-up!) were playing LEAP-FROG in their graves!
Reply #6. Posted on July 22, 2002, 09:00:20 PM by Josie
I saw this movie when I was about seven, and spent the next few months driving my parents crazy by running around the house in my bathing suit dragging a plush zebra.  Unfortunately, instead of growing up to be Queen of the Jungle, I ended up merely a mild-mannered accountant.  Us brunettes have no fun.
Reply #7. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Jim Hepler
It's probably PG cause this movie came out before PG-13 was invented.  That and the studio made a big push to stop it from being R.  Not uncommon.
Reply #8. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by TomVee
Saw this again the other day. Watched all but about 20 minutes in the middle, when I got so bored I started washing dishes or something. Truly a horrible movie, but fun to watch, kind of like DUNE or BEASTMASTER. Say now! Wouldn't that be something? Put Beastmaster and Sheena together! Let them run each other's biceps. Truth is, I agree with the reviewer who said Roberts was not the right build for Sheena. She was gorgeous in her time, and curvy as all hell, but a jungle warrior she ain't. She did talk like a man, however. She sort of sounds like the throaty Denise Austin as she works out.
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