aka Jungleburger; Shame of the Jungle
(Tarzoon, La Honte de la Jungle)
Directors – Picha & Boris Szulzinger, Screenplay – Pierre Bartier & Picha, American Version Written by Anne Beatts & Michael O’Donoghue, Producer – Boris Szulsinger, Animation – Vivian Miessen, Claude Monfort & Kjeld Simonsen. Production Company – SND/Valisa Films.
(English Language Version):-
Johnny Weissmuller Jr (Shame), Emily Prager (June), Pat Bright (Queen Bazonga), John Belushi (Craig Baker), Guy Sorel (Professor Cedric Addlepate), Judy Graubart (Stephanie Starlet), Andrew Duncan & Brian Doyle-Murray (Charles of the Pits), Adolph Caesar (Brutish), Christopher Guest (Chief M’Bulu)
The white anthropoid Shame lives in the jungle with his woman June. Queen Bazonga is intent on conquering the Earth but suffers from baldness. Her conjoined beauticians offer a range of scalps they can remove from their owners and transplant onto her. The Queen decides she wants the scalp of June. She sends her warriors out and they abduct June. Shame sets out to rescue June, passing through a series of adventures
Tarzoon, Shame of the Jungle was an animated parody of the Tarzan film. It was directed by the Belgian cartoonist Picha (real name Jean-Paul Walravens) who went onto make The Missing Link (1980), The Big Bang (1987) and Snow White: The Sequel (2007). His co-director was Boris Szulzinger who later directed the live-action comedy Mama Dracula (1980).
The film was immediately greeted with lawsuits from the estate of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs citing copyright infringement but these were defeated as the film was labelled a legitimate parody. The film was then released in the US with an X certificate but faced the problem that many US theatres would not show an X-rated film. A re-edited version was released as variously Jungleburger and Shame of the Jungle with voices dubbed by various comics of the day. In other countries, it was not seen until the 1980s and banned outright in New Zealand.
Tarzoon, Shame of the Jungle was made not long after Ralph Bakshi made the first adult animated film with Fritz the Cat (1972) and there is a clear attempt to do the same thing here. Around the same time, there was also Flesh Gordon (1974), which conducted an adult spoof of the 1930s serials. Tarzoon is essentially an animated version of the sort of cartoons you found in magazines of the day like Playboy and Hustler that speculated about what Tarzan and Jane really got up to in the jungle, although if anything, with stentorious voiceover, what this resembles is a very adult version of tv’s George of the Jungle (1967).. That and a lot of wacky absurdist humour of the National Lampoon variety.
The humour is definitely in a very adult vein. In the first scene where we meet Shame and June, they are engaged in sex in silhouette – replete with silhouette of his dick – where she berates his prowess in bed and even accuses him of being a crossdresser! Elsewhere we see June waking up in bed with the equivalent of Cheeta groping her nipple and brushes him off “Not now, fuzznuts.” At another point, an actress who turns up in the jungle with the party of explorers (who are encountered and then promptly forgotten as part of the very bitsy plot) breaks the fourth wall to comment “I’m only in this cartoon because I blew the producer.”
June is abducted by Queen Bazonga’s minions, which are an army of creatures that look like ambulatory penises and attached testicles. They go into battle outfitted with stahlhelm helmets and attack by firing spurts of ejaculate. The most amusing image is when the queen’s base is set on fire and they don protective gear, which naturally resembles condoms. There is also a mountain range that is shaped like a woman’s body where the breasts are mountains and the spread legs and pubic area a valley and cave entrance.
The madcap style has an appealingly gonzo surrealism. That said, the plot is very random – it does go on and on and runs out of steam in the second half. The characters (in the US version) are all give loud and brassy voicings. Emily Prager who voices June goes at it with loud lack of subtlety, as does Pat Bright as Queen Bazonga. John Belushi turns up as an American tourist travelling on a flying contraption tied to a flock of birds and somewhere in there is also Bill Murray as a reporter. The film does obtain the stunt casting coup of getting Johnny Weissmuller Jr, the son of Johnny Weissmuller, the original sound Tarzan in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) and sequels, as Shame.
One thing that did get me about the film was some of what would be considered today highly racist caricatures of the African natives – all in blackface with big exaggerated lips. It is something that you have to shrug and dismiss as belonging to the period the film was made and not judge things with the same moral condemnation one would if the film were made today. The Belgians even throw in a cameo from the comic-book character Tintin, whose own ventures into Africa came with a certain racial dubiousness.