Revenge of the Virgins (1959)

Virgin Guards of the Golden Hoard!

Poster image for 1959's Revenge of the Virgins

During the great Gold Rush, a ramshackle group of would-be prospectors head out for Gold Creek in California, ready to claim their fortune. There are, however, a few roadblocks that threaten to impede their progress: firstly, not everyone in the group is quite as honest as they appear; secondly, there is a pair of greedy soldiers on their tail, wanting some of the action; but thirdly, and most importantly, Gold Creek exists on Native American land…and this particular tribe has waged a ceaseless war against the white man.

The cowboy sfrom 1959's Revenge of the Virgins

If this sounds like a painstakingly generic Western plot, that’s because it is. And it’s certainly not a particularly well crafted representation of it, either. The acting is mediocre at best, the pace is plodding, and although it clocks in at only an hour, it feels like twice that and wears out its welcome in half. And, to belabor the point, it’s a Western. So why the hell are we covering it here? Simply put, REVENGE OF THE VIRGINS has cult credentials. Right out of the gate, we’ve got the title. Never mind the fact that it sounds more like a 1980s teen sex comedy; that decade hadn’t arrived yet. It’s got revenge and it’s got virgins right on the poster. This, my friends, is an exploitation film.

An exploitation film, yes, but keep in mind that this was the tail end of the 1950s, when even the seamy and the salacious seem quite saccharine in retrospect. The first roughie, SCUM OF THE EARTH (1963) was still four years away, and the dawn of the nudie cutie had only just arrived with THE IMMORAL MR. TEAS (1959). Even independent filmmakers had to be wary of pushing the envelope too far, and so we are left with only the faintest hint of sleaze. The revenge is a bloodless and toothless affair, and the virgins escape with their virginity intact.

What is not intact, though, is their modesty. The beautiful, and forever topless, women of this Native American tribe (referred to as Indians here, or, more accurately, Injuns, despite the fact that they are all caucasian) are the last survivors of their people. All the men have been killed off, apparently before consummating with any of their women. They are lead by a white woman known as Yellow Gold, kidnapped as an infant and raised by her captors, who now—for some odd reason—believe her to be a goddess. They hunt and harass the white men who dare lay claim to their land…but mostly they’re just meant to look beautiful and break up the monotony of the rest of the story.

Need proof? Just watch the lengthy ceremonial dance scene, which is equal parts awkward and provocative. And really, that’s all you need to watch. There’s nothing else to see.

Furthering the cult credentials of this film is the fact that the script was written by Ed Wood (as Pete La Roche). This was one of three Wood scripts to be filmed that year, but he helmed the other two—PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE and NIGHT OF THE GHOULS—himself, which accounts for why they are more well known. Directorial duties here went to Peter Perry Jr., the first in a moderate string of oddball credits that include MY TALE IS HOT (1964), MONDO MOD (1967), THE JOYS OF JEZEBEL (1970), and CYCLE VIXENS (1978), among others. He was sometimes credited as A.P. Stootsberry, which I think earns him extra credit. As a screenwriter, he contributed to the film THE FLESH MERCHANT (1956), which we’ve previously discussed.

The tribal girls from 1959's Revenge of the Virgins

You would expect that a film like this would be populated with other cult film players, but aside from a few key exceptions, that simply was not the case. Del Monroe, who played Curt the young Army deserter, played a mugger in THE GIRL IN LOVERS LANE (1960)—mentioned only because that film is discussed elsewhere—and had small roles in numerous movies and TV shows, and is probably one of the few people to have appeared on THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1978), WONDER WOMAN (1979), and THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1981). He is mostly remembered for his role in both the movie and subsequent television version of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1961, 1964-1968).

Henry Darrow played the gunslinging Wade Connor, and likewise appeared in many crime and western roles, often as a police officer. He was a regular on THE HIGH CHAPARRAL (1967-1971) and SANTA BARBARA (1989-1990), as well as numerous incarnations of ZORRO.

Kenne Duncan certainly has the most credits to his name, with almost 275 appearances. He supplied the voiceover narration here, and can be found in numerous Western films whose titles likely mean more to hardened fans of the genre than to the rest of us.

Overall, there’s not much substance here, nor is there a lot of style or flash. As a film of any sort, it fails on every conceivable level. But as a pop cultural artifact, well, I’m glad it exists, but I can’t see myself ever making a return visit.


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