Treasure of the Four Crowns (El Tesoro De Las Cuatro Coronas)
Director – Ferdinando Baldi, Screenplay – Lloyd Battista, Jim Bryce & Jerry Lazarus, Story – Tony Anthony, Producers – Tony Anthony & Gene Quintano, Photography (3-D) – Marcello Masciocchi & Giuseppe Ruzzolini, Music – Ennio Morricone, Special Effects – Germano Natali & Freddy Unger, Makeup – Carlo de Marchis, Art Direction – Luciano Spadoni. Production Company – Cannon/MTG-Lotus
Tony Anthony (J.T. Striker), Ana Obregon (Liz), Gene Quintano (Edmund), Francisco Rabal (Socrates), Jerry Lazarus (Rick), Lewis Gordon (Popo)
Adventurer J.T. Striker ventures into a castle and passes through a series of deadly traps to obtain one of three crowns of great supernatural power. He is hired by an archaeologist to retrieve the remaining two crowns from the heavily guarded mountaintop stronghold of a religious cult. To do so, Striker recruits a team of specialists to help conduct a daring break-in.
Spanish director Ferdinando Baldi, who had a long history going back to the 1960s making cheap Spanish Westerns, and stars Tony Anthony and Gene Quintano had together made the Western Comin’ at Ya (1981) – a truly excruciating film and a strong contender for the worst film to ever attain a major theatrical release. Comin’ at Ya would surely never had attained such release except for the one gimmick it came with – it was made in 3-D, a process that (at that time) had been out of fashion since the 1950s. The 3-D gimmick made it a huge success and inspired a short-lived 3-D revival fad that lasted between 1982-3 (and produced a string of only cruddy films). Treasure of the Four Crowns was a follow-up 3-D item from the people behind Comin’ at Ya, this time making it in conjunction with Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan’s Cannon Pictures, the producers/distributors of a lot of bad action and horror films in the 1980s. Treasure of the Four Crowns is certainly a more likeable film than the miserably grotty Comin’ at Ya, although is still not particularly good.
Treasure of the Four Crowns of course rips off a good deal of the then recent mega-success of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). It is a badly made film on all regards. The characters are one-dimensional, the performances lousy – hero Tony Anthony hardly manages to move a muscle in his face once throughout. Eventually though, the excessive silliness of the film’s recurrent need to batter an audience with 3-D gimmickry actually becomes rather entertaining – there is an opening modeled directly on the temple prologue of Raiders with Tony Anthony venturing into a castle and everything from portcullis’s, dogs, flaming balls, hidden ravines, crossbows controlled by elemental forces, spiked logs and reanimated skeletons contriving to pop out at the audience. Throughout, for no apparent reason, the crowns twice manage to get free and send everything flying around the temple and at the audience with their elemental forces. What makes much of this frequently entertaining is that the strings are visible almost every time some object levitates. The film’s one highlight is the raid across the booby-trapped, and laser-, electricity– and pressure sensor-guarded altar room wherein various members of the team befall nasty fates, a sequence that has clearly been modeled on Topkapi (1965). At the climax, the hero touches the crowns and is transformed into something resembling Batman’s Two-Face, oozing goo from his face, whereupon his head starts doing Linda Blair 360o spins and he starts shooting flames out of his sleeves with not-too-well concealed flame throwers. An epilogue contains a scene where a monster pops its face up out of a bog and snarls out of the screen, which has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the film. One will also note that despite the title there are only three crowns in the film.