John and Mary Lawrence (William Welsh, Mary Kornman) along with their young daughter Joan (Marilyn spinner) have been in the jungles of Africa for three years. John is looking for uranium. Young David Worth (Dickie Jones) is staying with them while his father Frank Worth (Reed Howes) has been back in civilization getting supplies. Frank returns with an observation balloon. He hopes to use it to search the jungle from the air and find a large deposit of uranium.
Deep in the jungle the high priest of the temple of Mu, Kali (Lafe McKee), is the leader of the cult of Mu that guards the uranium. The mineral is used in ceremonies by the natives that live in the Garden of Rad. Kali has a following of minions. He tells his head minion Garu (Zack Williams) that they must protect the uranium from the white man. If they find out where the mineral is then many white men will invade the Garden of Rad.
While playing hide and seek with David, Joan climbs into the basket of the balloon. When the balloon accidentally releases David’s father Frank and another man try to catch it only to be hoisted into the air. They fall to their deaths. Now without a father David remains with the Lawrences. Young Joan, still in the balloon basket, is carried away. Eventually the balloon drifts over an unexplored region known to the natives as the Garden of Rad.
The balloon is shot down by an arrow and Joan is found in the basket. Garu wants to make Joan a sacrifice to Mu. Another native believes she is the daughter of the white god and should be worshiped. To settle the argument they place Joan in the lap of the stone figure of Rad and release a group of lions believing that if she is the daughter of the white god she will not be harmed by the lions.
All this time Joan has been holding on to fireworks that Frank brought back for his son David. When the lions converge on her Joan lights the fireworks and throws them toward the lions. The explosions scare the lions away and Joan is declared Queen of the Jungle.
Twenty years later David (Reed Howes) is all grown up and so is Joan (Mary Kornman). David undertakes a search into the jungle and eventually finds Joan in the Garden of Rad. He convinces her to return to civilization with him. Before they leave David stumbles onto the fact that the long lost uranium deposit is located in the Garden of Rad. Kali is determined that David and Joan don’t make it back to civilization alive.
“Queen of the Jungle” was released in 1935 and was directed by Robert F. Hill and Glenn Cook. It is a twelve chapter serial.
This is another one of those cut and paste concoctions. In 1922 a silent serial called “The Jungle Goddess” was made. The action sequences and much of the plot was taken from it and used along with new sound stage footage to create “Queen of the Jungle”. Much of the stock footage is obvious since the quality of the 1922 film and the film speed are different than the new footage.
It is believed that, of the original 1922 serial, only a couple chapters survive. The 1922 film was fifteen chapters. The serial was produced by William N. Selig. The animal sequences were raw and frightening. Reportedly Selig used 470 different animals in making it. It was one of the most popular silent jungle films ever. From the looks of the stock footage it appears that “The Jungle Goddess” was a much better movie than its Frankenstein cousin “Queen of the Jungle”.
This bipolar serial is unnaturally hysterical. The 1922 bits are pretty obvious even though jungle sounds were added to some of the silent parts. All the natives can speak English but the white girl can’t. In some scenes it’s obvious that the characters don’t match where the cut and pastes were done. Some of the cliff hangers aren’t explained and are just dropped in the next chapter. Some scenes are put in that have nothing to do with the plot. There are white people in blackface in both the 1922 and the 1935 serial. The net result of the serial is a jumble of scenes and plot threads that don’t gel. The one thing that films like this have taught me is that Ed Wood got a raw deal.
Lafe McKeen who was in the 1922 serial also appears as the character Kali in the 1935 serial. Darby Jones, the bug-eyed zombie from Val Lewton’s “I walked with a Zombie” 1943 has a part in the 1922 serial.
Chapter Titles: 1. Lost in the Clouds 2. Radium Rays 3. The Hand of Death 4. The Native's Revenge 5. Black Magic 6. The Death Vine 7. The Leopard Leaps 8. The Doom Ship 9. Death Rides the Waves 10.The Temple of Wu 11.Fangs in the Dark 12.The Lion Pit