Sheena  (1984)PG

Half a capeTentTentTent

“Remove those strange skins you wear.”

Sheena says this, of course, while bathing nude and acting as if she’s such a nature child that modesty is a completely unknown concept to her. But she wasn’t raised by apes, she was raised by the “Zambuli” tribe (roughly modeled on the Samburu), who we see keeping modest standards of dress — and wearing cloth, not skins — at all times except during ritual dances. (The healing ceremony apparently requires some bouncing tits. Just one or two pairs are plenty, as long as they’re big and shapely enough.)

Some of the other bad movies on this site qualify as So Bad They’re Good... but when it comes to true whole-hearted all out so- bad- it’s- goodness, this one blows all other comic book movies away. If you want to throw a real Bad Movie Party, this is the one to bring!

I was surprised to learn that this character, the Queen of the Jungle, dates back to before 1940. In fact, Sheena predates Wonder Woman, and stands as the first female character ever to headline a pulp/superhero comic book. Here the story of the character conceived as a female Tarzan is boldly re-imagined... as a nudie exploitation flick. A PG-rated nudie flick. Yes, they had those in the eighties. And what it meant was that the movie is made for the purpose of showing about 45 seconds of female flesh, and then the other two hours are filler.

And oh, what bad filler it is. Deliciously bad. Even the music is thoroughly laughable. There are very few scenes in this film that aren’t worth at least a mild guffaw when watched with a crowd... or more, like when Sheena’s wise African teacher calls a hippo a “water horse”, or when Vic the American sportscaster teaches African royalty how to High Five. Absurd from practically the very first scene to the very last. Even the film’s most well known scene, which consists simply of Sheena taking a shower under a waterfall, is absurd... because she’s not under the waterfall, she’s in front of it — probably rear-projected — so no water actually hits her.

The opening credits footage consists of two minutes of Sheena’s upper body bouncing up and down in slow motion, as she rides a horse painted with zebra stripes.

“A blonde girl!”

“You mean a blonde gorilla?”

I’d love to go on for pages describing all the ridiculous bits in this film, but this is not the place. Others have already done so. Just watch it, if you can find a copy. See it, see it, see it!

Tanya Roberts’ acting in the title role is exactly what one hopes for in a so-bad-it’s-good movie: far worse than any of the other actors around her. Bad enough to get a laugh just about every time she says anything. In fact, she shows the highest level of skill as a terrible actor: the ability to get bad-acting laughs without saying a word. Which might explain why they unfortunately made Vic (he of the strange skins that need removing) the real protagonist — so as to cut down the amount of Tanya Roberts acting.

Sheena was nominated for five Razzie awards, but was beaten in all five categories by Bo Derek’s Bolero.

But some of you are no doubt asking: does Tanya Roberts look really hot naked?

I’m afraid the answer is no. During the eighties, exploitive nudity was very fashionable... but authentic sexiness was not.