Movie Cereal – Panther Girl of the Kongo, Chapter 2 – Jungle Ambush

When we last left the jungle, big game hunter Larry Sanders and the Panther Girl, Jean Evans were trying to track the giant claw monster (or giant crawfish) that’s been seen crawling around causing trouble.  However, Larry is now being attacked by some nasty Returi tribesman who are under the control of the nasty scientist Dr. Morgan…same dude who has been growing these nasty claw monsters.  While Larry tries to fight off the baddies, poor Jean is grabbed by a giant claw.  Let’s see how they get out of this one in Chapter 2 – Jungle Ambush.

Somehow, Larry manages to get free of the rope the Returi have snagged him with and then lets his fists do the talking.  He hears Jean’s screams and manages to get the claw monster to release her thanks to a few blasts from his shotgun.  Lucky for Jean, Larry is a good shot.

Back at Dr. Morgan’s lair, the scientist plots his next steps with henchmen Cass (John Daheim) and Rand (Mike Ragan).  He sends them back to the Utanga village where they now pretend to be all friendly with Larry, despite the fisticuffs they all exchanged in the previous chapter.  They inquire about the giant monsters they’ve been hearing about and Jean obliges their curiosity by showing them the footage she took, as well as footage of various lions, giraffes and birds (which gives the filmmakers an excuse to use some extra stock footage they had lying around).  Larry then tells the two goons he plans on taking the footage to the District Commissioner. When the authorities show up, it’s going to be even tougher for them to get the diamonds, so Cass and Rand decide they need to get their hands on that film.

That night, the crooks break into Jean’s hut, tie her up, and grab the film.  Luckily, Jean manages to pull a cord that rings a bell in Larry’s room.  He barges in with a gun drawn.  Of course, Cass and Rand start throwing punches, not to mention furniture (just like last time).  After the smoke has cleared, Rand manages to escape, but Larry holds on to the unconscious Cass.  Now he’ll need to deliver both the film and the crook to the District Commissioner.

Now, if you think Dr. Morgan is just going to let that happen, you don’t know evil scientists.  He dispatches Rand and the two Returi warriors (still presumably under mind control) to stop Larry.  They block the road with a big log and then start shooting at our hero with both bullets and arrows.  During the shootout, Cass manages to free himself of his bonds, move the log blocking the road, and steal Larry’s jeep.  Then one of the Returi clunks Larry on the head with a heavy stick just before the Jeep drives right toward the camera, and presumably over Larry.  We are then told we need to come back for more next week.

Okay, so I’m still struggling a bit with something here.  This serial is called Panther GIRL of the Kongo, right?  I mean, I guess I expected that the title character was going to be the hero of the story…the one that does the saving as opposed to the character that always needs to be saved!  We open this episode with our Panther Girl being saved from the cliffhanger that closed the last episode, then later she needs to be rescued when the goons break into her bungalow.  I know we’re only two episodes in, but it’s starting to feel like the whole Panther Girl thing is literally just a nickname.  Jean could at least try to claw Cass and Rand’s eyes out when they storm into her room!  Panthers have claws, right?

Overall I’d say that this installment is a bit of a letdown after a pretty strong first chapter.  Once the conclusion of the cliffhanger from the last episode is wrapped up in the first minute of the episode, the giant claw monsters completely vanish from this chapter.  Things also get a bit confusing when it comes to the dynamic between Larry and professional goons Cass and Rand.  After all, last time these three got into a big fight…broke a lot of furniture and everything.  Larry is very quick to invite them over to watch Jean’s home movies, however.  Sure, he explains it away by saying he wants to scare them away by showing them the footage of the claw monsters, but you’d think he would’ve told them they need to buy him some new chairs first.

Still, we do get another nice fight sequence.  It is a shame, though, that Jean just lies there unconscious for most of it.  The shootout that happens on the road at the close of the episode also has its merits.  We actually get to see some of the arrows being fired by the enslaved native warriors sail into the seat of the Jeep in close proximity to Larry and Cass.  The big moment where Larry gets clunked with a small log is also fun.  It does contribute to a good cliffhanger, as well, since it sure looks like Larry’s head is about to be split open when it makes contact with the Jeep that’s zooming toward him.  Do we dare hope that Jean will be the one to save HIM this time?  We’ll find out when we look at Chapter 3 – The Killer Beast.

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