The Pumaman (1980)

The Pumaman

Directed by Alberto De Martino

Written by Luigi Angelo

Run Time: 90 min

Jane:"Have you ever made love in the air?"
Puma Man:"How else would you make little Puma Men?"


Pain takes many forms: Headaches, broken bones, tooth aches (of which I actually have one right now), hangovers (I have one of those too), and so on. One very, very special form of pain is The Bad Movie…and brother, The Pumaman is one bad, bad, bad movie.

This movie hurts!

I immediately realized I was in trouble when I saw that the movie was made in 1980 and that there were a lot of Italian names in the cast and crew. (I’m not saying that all Italian movies from the 80’s were bad. Hey, they made Devil Fish didn’t they?…Oh, wait…never mind.) My suspicions that this movie was not only going to suck, but really suck, were confirmed when I saw that they had misspelled Donald Pleasence’s name as "Pleasance" in the credits. Ouch. I mean…c’mon, eh? The guy has the nerve to show up in this pile of crap and then you spell his name wrong? Sheesh. I sincerely hope that it was worth the money, Donald.

So who, or what, the hell is the "Pumaman"? First, I will refer to him as Puma Man (two words), because it just makes more sense. Does anybody write, for example, The Elephantman? Anyway, in a nutshell, this movie is a low-budget ‘super hero’ movie (read: Super Man rip off) about a guy who discovers he has the powers of the puma…puma-like powers such as the ability to fly and to teleport. (For those of you who fell asleep in science class, a puma is a large cat also known as a cougar or mountain lion. And, no, pumas neither fly nor teleport.)

The Pumaman

This animal does not fly.

Oh, gee whiz, there’s a bunch of bad-guys led by Donald Pleasance, sorry ‘Pleasence’, who are trying to take over the world. Pleasance, damn it! Now I’m doing it!, I mean ‘Pleasence’, controls people through the use of paper-mache "heads" that he employs as mental remote controls if you will. Oh, let’s not forget the serial murderer Aztec "good guy" whose tactic for discovering the real Puma Man is to run around London throwing Americans out windows to see if they can fly.

There are a few warnings I would like to give you before we begin:

Puma Man’s brown and orange poncho/cape ensemble is the ugliest super hero costume I’ve ever seen. It has the colors of a Halloween pumpkin that’s sat on the front steps waaaay too long.

Puma Man is a huge wimp.

The special effects are God-awful.

DANGER: The Puma Man theme song is very, very difficult to get out of your head.

Walter George Alton Prof. Tony Farms / Puma Man (Walter George Alton)

Professor Farms is your average American paleontologist working in London. You know the kind. Tony is unaware that he’s the Puma Man until Vadinho tosses him out of a window to test him.

Donald Pleasence Kobras (Donald Pleasence)

Donald Pleasence seems right at home playing the villainous Kobras. This full-length black leather jacket wearing weirdo keeps a collection of paper-mache heads in his house that he uses to control people. Somehow. Don’t ask me. He also wants to take over the world, so I guess London is a good place to start.

Miguel Fuentes Vadinho (Miguel Ángel Fuentes)

The noble Aztec priest who’s traveled to London to discover the identity of the Puma Man. How does he test people? Why, he throws them out of a window to see if they can fly. I wish I were making all of this up, but I’m not. He also thinks that the Aztecs lived in the Andes.

Sydne Rome Jane Dobson (Sydne Rome)

What bad movie is complete without a main squeeze? Jane Dobson runs around, gets caught be bad guys, falls in love with Puma Man, gets rescued by Puma Man, and, and, I think you get the idea. Hilariously, actress Sydne Rome gets a "Special Guest Star" tag in the opening credits. Hmmm.

This lovely little gem of a film opens with a deep voice narrating the opening title card:

The Pumaman

I had hoped that the ellipses after "PUMAMAN" would lead to the words "THE END", but unfortunately the movie continues.

The PumamanCut to a gigantic Christmas ornament. Oops. I mean space ship. The space ship descends out of the sky and hovers over Stone Henge. Hmmm. If the legend of Puma Man is an Aztec legend, then why are the aliens over England? Anyway, we learn that the aliens left behind an aluminum foil mask, sorry, a <ahem>"golden" mask, with which they can "always be with us". (Whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.) The narrating alien continues with his exposition by stating that the mask will be watched over by a guardian with the powers of a puma.

OK. Let’s see here. These aliens dump off a golden mask somewhere and assign somebody to guard it. This guardian is given the powers of a puma? Why not the powers of a lion? A shark? An elephant? A pitbull? But a puma? If somebody were to ask you to quickly name the most dangerous animal in the world, would you immediately shout, "Hey! That’s easy! A puma!"

Sorry to beat this point to death, but my tooth hurts, I’m hung over, I’m in a bad mood, and I’m going to take out all my anger on Puma Man. If you got a problem with that then, buddy, you’re at the wrong website.

Anyway, the giant ornament flies away while the alien drones the words "Puma Man…Puma Man…Puma Man…" Note: Never watch this movie when you have a headache.

Cut to modern day London, where an attractive scientist, Jane Dobson, is examining the mask with a magnifying glass. "Can you decipher it?" asks the eviiiillll Kobras. Indeed she can. It turns out there is an ancient Aztec inscription on the base of the mask, a curse in fact:

"Whoever desecrates the Puma God image will in turn be destroyed by the living Puma Man".

Kobras’ henchman, whom I’m must refer to as Bearded Henchman (BH), notes that the idea of a curse is "ridiculous"…yes, a guy who is trying to take over the world with a bunch of paper-mache heads thinks this is ridiculous.

"Sometimes there is more truth in legend…then in history," remarks Kobras. If you can tell me just what in the hell that’s supposed to mean, then please do.

Jane sets the mask onto its side to take a closer look at the back when suddenly a hidden compartment opens revealing a circuit board inside the base. "Incredible!" Jane shouts, "A three thousand year old find! It conceals unthinkable technology!" Kobras and BH exchange Sneaky Looks as BH quickly re-closes the compartment. Despite Kobras’ refusals to go to the press with the amazing find, Jane insists on informing the world of this Pac-Man circuit board, sorry, I mean this magnificent archeological discovery.

The PumamanJane spins on her heels in a huff and begins to stomp out of the room. Not so fast. Kobras points the mask at her, stands behind it and peers through the little eye holes while shouting, "Jane…your mind…and your will…belong to me..forever!"

If all this sounds ridiculous…try seeing the movie. Once again, Mr. Pleasence, I really hope all this was worth the paycheck.

Anyway, through the amazing special effects technology of turning the camera lens in-and-out of focus, we see Jane fall under Kobras’ power. "Go now…and obey!" Kobras orders, which admittedly is a command that leaves a lot left to personal interpretation. When Jane leaves the room Kobras and BH turn and stare at the wall. Through the magic of having the actress stand in front of a piece of glass and shine a light on their face, Jane’s head ‘appears’ out of nowhere, which I guess means that she’s under their control.

Look, I have no freakin’ idea what the hell anything ‘means’ in this movie.

The only hitch to Kobras’ plan to dominate the world is the little problem of the Mask’s guardian: The Puma Man. "We must find him…and kill him," says Kobras. Oh, you may notice that Kobras pronounces "puma" as "pee-you-ma" not "pooma" as the rest of the civilized world does. Ahhh, just another irritating facet of this movie.

The PumamanCut to, <ahem>, London, as noted by the picture of Big Ben rear-projected in front of a stunt man falling through the air. Cut to a different guy being tossed through a window to his supposed doom. Exciting music indicates that this is all very, well, exciting. We end up with a shot of a newspaper headline where the word "American" is not capitalized. I guess British-American relations were at a low point at that time. Either that or the creators of this film weren’t overly concerned with quality. Take your pick.

The music quickly segues into the Puma Man Theme Song®, a song that will haunt you long, long after you’ve stopped watching this movie. Believe me, it’s been more than a few times I’ve caught myself humming this song. (Check out the sample clip in the introduction above.) We see Professor Tony Farms jogging alongside the Thames, or so we are to believe. Driving beside Tony as he jogs along is his friend, Martin, a local fire man driving a red VW mini-bus with a ladder strapped onto the roof. Martin warns Tony to be careful because all of the recently murdered americans, sorry, Americans, were sons of doctors and had parents that were killed in plane crashes. Tony apparently fits into this demographic, thus the warning from his friend. After some not-so-witty banter, Tony jogs to the university, er, museum, or wherever the hell he works. What Tony doesn’t notice is a sinister Aztec guy hiding behind a tree watching him. You would think that a 6-and-a-half-foot tall, 250 pound Aztec watching you from behind a tree in London is something that you would notice, but there you go.

Inside the museum, we see Tony standing in a dinosaur exhibit where he has changed back into his lab uniform. His stuffy British boss walks in and chews Tony out for exercising during work hours. Boy, those Brits, eh? What a bunch of stiff-shirt bores. As his boss continues to reprimand him, Tony casually stuffs his sweaty jogging outfit into the rib cage of one of the dinosaur skeletons on display (!!).A strange look comes over Tony’s face and he puts his hand to his forehead.

"Do you feel sick," asks his boss.

"No, I get this way whenever I sense danger," Tony replies. OK, Tony. So you can "sense danger"…?

Whatever.

Tony heads off to some sort of research lab, where his lab bench is adorned with assorted animal skeletons in order to remind us that he is in fact a Scientist. Tony’s Danger-Sense kicks in again when he sees the huge Aztec stalker in the far corner of the room. Big Aztec Guy (BAG) swipes a leg bone from one of the benches and exits. Being a responsible Scientist, Tony gives chase. Bad move. When Tony stops to peer down a hallway, BAG comes up from behind him and promptly tosses the puzzled paleontologist out an open window. (Um, I thought you could sense danger…?)

We quickly cut to see Tony falling several stories to the ground.

No. Wait. Let me rephrase that.

We see Tony dangling from wires and flailing his arms as a rear-projected building edifice flies behind him. Ed Wood would be proud.

After hitting the ground, Tony is surprised to find himself uninjured. (I, on the other hand, was disappointed that the survived at all.) BAG suddenly appears out of some bushes and chases the bewildered Tony across the museum grounds for a while until Tony decides to duck into some sort of tool shed. BAG easily smashes in the door, stares at Tony and grumbles, "You are the Puma Man." Although at this point it’s probably a bit too late, Tony reaches over to arm himself with an old axe handle laying on the ground, and when he looks back up…surprise…BAG is gone.

(By the way, this sequence was supposed to be exciting. If my description seemed rather dull, then I have accurately described it what took place on the screen.)

The PumamanConfused but unscathed, Tony dazedly returns to the museum for the Meet Cute scene. For some reason Jane Dobson is in the lobby and introduces herself. (How she knew he was the Puma Man is beyond me. And really, it just doesn’t matter.) If you’re still awake at this point, you may recall that Jane is under Kobras’ mental control. That being said, Jane sets the trap in motion by inviting Tony to her house later that evening to discuss paleontology matters.

As it turns out, Jane’s father is the Dutch ambassador (!!?), so Tony is a bit intimidated when he sees he’s been invited to the Dutch Embassy that evening. You may be scratching your head and saying to yourself "WTF? The Dutch Embassy? How can that possibly have anything to do with the plot?".

Join the crowd.

Anyhoo, Jane goes back to her car and phones Kobras to inform him that Tony is probably the Puma Man and that the trap is set. Kobras also decides to attend the party, because, well, the script requires it. Never to fear, BAG, still hiding behind a tree, spots Jane making the call, so I’m sure he’ll be able to warn Tony that something is up.

OK. Time out.

1) Why is BAG suspicious of Jane? Maybe, and I mean maybe, he saw her talking to Tony in the lobby, but…so what?

2) Why doesn’t anybody think that a 7-foot tall Aztec hiding behind trees on a busy museum grounds is cause for suspicion?

3) Even if BAG is able to warn Tony, why should Tony trust him? BAG just threw Tony out of a 3rd story window, called him "Puma Man", and then disappeared. Not the best way to start a friendship.

4) Where is the aspirin?

Later that evening at Tony’s abode, we see him getting ready for the big shin-dig at the embassy. Suddenly the lights go out and Tony, sensing danger, peers into the darkness. We now learn that Tony can see in the dark. Yes. Tony can sense danger and see in the dark…and he apparently never thought that these abilities were abnormal. The special effects crew achieved the magic of Puma Vision by affixing a red filter in front of the camera lens, because, you know, that’s probably how pumas see the world.

As abruptly as they went out, the lights turn back on and Tony finds himself standing face to face with BAG. When Tony threatens to bean BAG (get it…’bean bag’. I love me.) with a candle holder, the noble Aztec reassures him that he is indeed a friend. "You can chase me away," BAG soothes, "but not the blood in your veins." (Huh? How does somebody even attempt to chase away the blood in their veins?)

BAG continues his confusing monologue with, "Your father saw in dark, your father jumped in the air…your father protected my people!"

"My father was a physician," Tony snarls, obviously not impressed that BAG knew that his father jumped in the air.

"A doctor here," BAG concedes, "but a great Puma Man in the Andes plateaus."

(Er…the Andes? Pssst…BAG…the Aztecs lived in Mexico, not Peru…)

BAG finally convinces Tony that he is the Puma Man by pulling out a picture from Tony’s youth. Tony, of course, has the same picture Right There On The Table, so hey, I guess BAG is telling the truth, because there is no way in hell a person could ever get a copy of a picture.

"I am Vadinho," BAG says, "I’m the high priest of The Temple of the God Who Came From Other Worlds." (Now there’s a mouthful.) Hmmm. OK. Moving right along Vadinho pulls out a fat leather belt that supposedly holds the Powers of the Puma. "Put it on," Vadinho commands.

The PumamanTony declines, noting that he’s going to the Dutch Embassy that evening, so showing up in a tux with a massive leather belt might be regarded as a faux pas, even for the Dutch.

Oh boy, time is dragging here. Let’s cut to the chase. Tony eludes Vadinho by pretending to agree to take on the belt, but then turns off the light and runs down to his car instead. Tony tries to drive away but the car’s tires spin in place as Vadinho holds back the car by the rear bumper. Vadinho eventually forces himself into the car and warns Tony that a trap is awaiting him at the Embassy. Tony still refuses to believe all this nonsense, compelling Vadinho to remark, "You are the worst I have ever seen. But you are the Pumaman!" After some more goofy hijinks, Tony manages to pin Vadinho’s door against a wall thus giving him time to slip out of the car and run to the Embassy on foot while the giant Aztec has to force his way out of the car.

Time out. Why does Vadinho even need this wimp? Really, why bother? He can hold back cars, rip open doors, tear off steering wheels…dude is a stud!

The PumamanBlah. Tony arrives at the Embassy in pretty good form all things considered. Jane greets Tony with a huge smile and introduces him to her father and a bunch of old dudes who have absolutely nothing to do with the plot. Without warning, moody music bursts onto the sound track indicating that something evillll is about to happen. Oh no! Kobras and a gaggle of his eviiilll henchmen enter the Embassy. (Don’t embassies have…um, what’s it called again…security?)

Donald Pleasence hams it up pretty good here…and one can’t help but wonder what went through his head when he was told he had to wear a knee-length gold lame Neru jacket for the scene. The shame…the shame…

Anyhoo, apparently Kobras has mental control over everybody in the Embassy as all the old dudes simply clear out with nary a word. Kobras and Jane’s father, the Dutch Ambassador, head off to a private room for a special meeting. (Let me get this straight, Kobras is going to take over the world, and his first target is…The Netherlands?) Jane and Tony head upstairs to her room in order to ‘discuss the dinosaurs’. This of course leads to a nauseating kissing scene that is (thankfully) broken up when a bunch of goons burst into the room and start whipping Tony’s ass.

Tony, being a master of Kung-Fu-Foley, manages to beat off the majority of the goons before running from the room. (Although we know that Jane is part of the plot to kill him, Tony doesn’t, so when he runs from the room and leaves Jane behind with the bad guys, it doesn’t really cry out "Super Hero", if you know what I mean.) The nogoodnicks give chase, this time with pistols drawn. (So why didn’t they just shoot him in the first place instead of getting their butts kicked by Tony? Oh, because the movie would have ended. Too bad.)

The PumamanTony finally makes it to the roof, only to find himself trapped. Luckily for Tony (and unluckily for us), Vadinho is there to save the day. In a highly improbable throw, Vadinho tosses the belt from the ground up and onto the roof right at Tony’s feet…at least 4 stories up from the ground. Go and throw a belt into the air see how high it goes. I bet it didn’t go 50 feet up. (Nitpicking now, yes I know. But still…this movie deserves it.)

Vadinho shouts to Tony to put on the belt and jump. Uh…ok. The moment Tony puts on the belt, his tux suddenly transforms into the official Puma Man outfit: Tan slacks with brown loafers, a brown shirt with gold mask emblem, topped off with orange cape. You go, boy!

This charming scene is broken up as the Bad Guys start making their way onto the roof. Vadinho pleads with Tony to jump.

"I’m not a bird!" he shouts back.

Vadinho, never one to lose his sense of humor no matter how desperate the situation quips in return, "If you stay there…you’re a dead duck! Fly!"

Boy, that Vadinho. You gotta love that guy.

The PumamanTime for some Special Effects Magic! Tony closes his eyes and hops from the roof. If you’re watching the film you probably heard a loud ‘thump’. That was your jaw hitting the ground when you see the unbelievably chintzy effects. Let’s see. Tony is hanging from a wire, which you can easily see since his cape occasionally gets hung up on it, while a rear-projected cityscape flies back and forth behind him. I wish a screenshot could convey the utter paucity of quality in these effects.

These are the movies that try men’s souls.

After tumbling about in front of London stock footage for a bit, Tony falls back to the ground, snaps his neck, and the movie ends.

I wish.

"I don’t know what’s going on, I’m afraid to move," Tony says upon landing.

"You do not fly…but your mind does. You are afraid…but the other you isn’t," says Vadinho in an effort meant to either reassure or to confuse. I’m not sure which.

Bearded Henchman runs back downstairs from the roof and reports to Kobras, "That wasn’t a man…it was a cat jumping!" Uh. OK. Taking all this in stride, Kobras sneers and says that since they’ve now found the Puma Man, all they have to do is kill him. They two eviiiillll men jump into Kobras’ car and begin driving the streets of London searching for Puma Man. Not the most efficient method of finding somebody since London is, you know, a pretty damn big city. But Kobras doesn’t seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer, so there you go.

Back outside, Vadinho informs Tony that Kobras has used the "Gold Mask" to enslave Jane’s mind, a task which probably wouldn’t require too much effort if you look at her. If Tony can only find the mask, he can release Jane’s mind from Kobras’s control. Tony comes up with the brilliant plan to follow Kobras and have him lead the way to their hideout, thus, the mask.

OK, I’m trying to figure out just what the hell is happening here. Tony flies around in front of rear-projected shots of London, shots filmed during both day and night. No continuity points there, guys. Kobras and Bearded Henchman drive around London, also rear-projected shots as well. So I guess the producers drove around filming the streets of London, then rear-projected the shots behind a stationary car in which Kobras is supposed to be driving. Is it just me or does that seem a bit redundant?

Anyway, Kobras pulls into a construction site where a whole bunch of Bad Guys are waiting in the shadows. Tony follows the car into the site yet despite his Puma Vision, fails to see the 10 or so guys standing in the shadows with their pistols drawn. (Not too mention his Puma Danger Sense which seems to be a bit undependable lately.) Kobras shouts a command into his radio, somebody switches on an array of bright lights, and the baddies open fire with their their guns.

It appears that the lights turn on and off at random because sometimes the construction site is lit up and in the next shot it’s dark again, so just go with it. Tony disappears, or flies away, or something, and Kobras orders his men to "comb the area…find him…kill him."

Well, it looks like all the bad guys interpreted that command as "take off and go home", because suddenly Tall Bad Guy (TBG) is all alone in the dark, which of course is the perfect time for Puma Man to grab him and pump him for information.

Wow! That’s exactly what happened! I’m psychic! No, not really. I’ve just seen this movie about 5 times before writing this review. Can you imagine that? Five times!?

The PumamanOK, Tony grabs TBG and sails up into the rear-projected night skies over London. Remember how the previous scenes with Puma Man flying looked like a guy dangling from a wire? Well these scenes look like 2 guys dangling from 2 wires. At least the special effects department was consistent in that area.

Once he gets up several hundred feet above the ground, Tony demands that TBG tell him where the mask is. TBG refuses, so Tony drops him. Amazingly, the guy falls sideways (!!) for awhile (I really don’t know what the hell that was all about, maybe it’s all the London air pollution) before Tony swoops down, if you can call hanging from a wire and flapping your arms ‘swooping’, and snatches him up again.

In a funny bit, when Tony has grabbed TBG and is talking to him, you can see apartment windows in the background because, obviously, they are standing on some kind of mechanical lift in order to film the shot. However when Tony drops him again, the rear-projected footage shows them to be hundreds and hundreds of feet in the air. It all adds up to a big pile of suck.

After being dropped a second time, and falling sideways again (!), TBG finally spills the beans. The mask is kept "in a mansion", but he doesn’t know where. "Everybody who goes there doesn’t talk!" he shouts. Um, so the only visitors they get are mutes? Tony realizes he probably won’t get anymore ‘useful’ information out of this guy, so in yet another horrible bit of blue screen work, you see Tony walk across the ‘air’ and hang TBG on a piece of protruding scaffolding. I want to emphasize that Tony walks across the ‘air’.

Tony returns to find Vadinho meditating in a park. Unfortunately our superhero is a bit miffed because he doesn’t know which mansion to find the mask in, nor even really where to begin looking.

The Pumaman"You must learn new powers," instructs Vadinho who leads Tony to his refuge: an abandoned warehouse in the middle of London. You know the kind: an abandoned warehouse in London where nobody would think twice about seeing a 8-foot Aztec guy coming and going at all hours of the day and night.

Once inside the surprisingly clean and well-lit ‘abandoned’ warehouse, Vadinho kneels and commands Tony to join him in prayer to The Gods Who Come From Other Worlds. I guess this is some sort of cosmic information line.

"Concentrate your mind on the image of the god Puma," Vadinho tells Tony. (The god Puma? Huh?) Anyway, Tony scrunches his eyebrows together and ‘concentrates’ until at last he stands up and walks through a wall, thus exploiting another of the mountain lion’s well known natural abilities: teleportation.

Tony floats around for a while in some sort of nether world complete with reverse-image colorization of Big Ben, the Golden Mask, and the Space Ornament that we saw in the opening scene. About the only thing Tony does is cry out for help until he ‘pops’ back into the warehouse through the same wall he just walked ‘into’. Somehow Tony learned that he can teleport himself only to places that he knows, otherwise he’ll get lost in the "nothingness". (Kind of like the 90 minutes of ‘nothingness’ you feel while watching this movie.)

"They have lost their connection," note Vadinho while glancing up into the sky, "The mask is now serving evil."

"Is finding the mask the only way?" Tony asks.

"Yes, if we do not succeed…terrible things will happen."

Terrible things like somebody making Puma Man 2?

Time out. Why the hell did the aliens put the damn mask here in the first place? What freakin’ purpose does it serve besides being a treasure for bad guys to try and steal? Did I fall asleep and miss something here?

Tony asks Vadinho if the aliens can just come down and get the mask: In fact, a fair question.

True to form, Vadinho responds with a bunch of mystic crapola:

"Man is free. Man is master of himself. But if they come…Man is no longer free."

Fed up with this nonsense, Tony stands up, scrunches his eyebrows again, and teleports into his friend Martin’s fire truck. Martin is obviously just as stupid as Tony because he asks him what the deal is with his costume, which might not be the first question I would ask if somebody suddenly teleported into the seat beside me as I was driving down the road.

The PumamanTo make a long story short, Tony borrows a "position indicator" (read: homing device), which is an item that all firemen probably have laying in the back seat. When Tony jumps out of the door, Martin shakes his head in a ‘What-A-Wacky-Guy-My-Friend-Is’ manner and manages to crash his truck into a fire hydrant. Hilarity ensues as Martin shakes his fist in mock anger at Tony who grins and jogs away. Har dee har.

Ahh, we’re having some fun now, eh?

For some reason, Tony decides to walk back to the warehouse instead of teleport back. Maybe he just wanted to do some sight-seeing around London while wearing the Puma Man costume. Yeah. Nobody would notice that. Just outside the warehouse door, Tony grabs his head because of the whole Puma Sensing Danger ability that he’s had his whole life. It turns out that The Bad Guys have captured Vadinho and are waiting to grab Tony when he walks in. Fortunately, Vadinho cries out a warning to Tony and in return receives a viscous blow to the stomach with a long piece of cardboard…oops…I mean a metal pipe.

The Bad Guys somehow lose sight of Tony as he swoops into the warehouse from above. Really, in what universe does this movie take place? How can they not see him when they in fact just saw him standing at the doorway. What the hell is happening here?

Anyhoo, Tony bonks a couple guys in the head, hoovers around on some wires, or is heisted up and down by an off-screen lift. Note that you never see Tony’s legs when he’s in the air because then you would see the cherry-picker that he’s standing in so that he can ‘fly’.

The PumamanAfter dispatching the first wave of Bad Guys, a couple of cars pull into the warehouse and the next boring battle ensues, complete with Tony hovering, jumping into walls and back out again (using the exact same footage over and over again…<sigh>), bonking people on the head, and sundry other similar shenanigans. Eventually Tony grabs one of the cars with a couple guys in it and flips it over. (One of the car’s occupants shouts, "The brakes! Step on the brakes!" as the car flips over. Yeah. Good idea. By the way, the car is plainly empty when it’s shown flipping over…I guess those two guys had Puma Teleport powers as well.)

Vadinho, cowering behind a pile of boxes, takes this opportunity to inform Tony that his hands are "claws". With this new Puma Ability at his disposal, Tony tears open the top of a car and beats a couple dudes senseless.

Once the goons have been handily disposed of, Tony takes Vadinho outside and tries to get him to a hospital. Nope, Vadinho insists that that would raise too many questions, so he rubs his amulet over his face and through the "powers" of the gods, the ‘blood’ on his face disappears through the magic of time lapse photography.

After losing his home, getting his ass kicked, and still no closer to finding the mask, Vadinho is justified in asking Tony just what in the heck they should do next. Tony has a brainstorm and suggests that he could teleport into Jane’s car since he has been there before. Then he could place the homing device, oh, sorry Tony, "position indicator", on her car and she can lead them to Kobras and the mask.

Cut to Jane’s car where Tony ‘teleports’ into the seat beside her. (Off-camera, natch.) Jane, whose wearing what looks to be, I swear, a black leather pilot’s helmet, warns him that Kobras is trying to kill him and that she’s being followed by Bad Guys. No matter how much she wants to help Tony, she can’t reveal the location of the mask because Kobras is controlling her mind "from a distance".

Cue boring car chase. When Jane is finally forced to the side, Puma Man has disappeared. Blah.

The PumamanKobras calls Jane on her car phone and tries to find out just what the hell Puma man was doing in her car. "Nothing," Jane responds with a skillful bon mot. Not convinced, Kobras shouts, "Why do you resist me, Jane? You’ve fallen in love!". With that being said, Kobras turns from the phone as a strange torture device consisting of a metal rod with a needle at the end pops up and pokes Jane’s paper-mache noggin, sending psychic waves of torment across the ether causing her to cry out in pain. Oh, her paper-mache head also has a bunch of cracks in it now, which indicates…something. Having had enough fun for now, Kobras releases her with a warning, resets her mind, and turning to Jane’s father’s paper-mache head, orders him to convene a meeting of the "International Security Services Commission".

You know, watching Donald Pleasence talking to a paper-mache head is kind of strange.

Beer break.

That’s better.

OK, Vadinho and Tony have tracked Jane’s car to the mansion and watch from a distance as another pair of limos arrive, presumably carrying the members of the, <cough>, "International Security Services Commission" to the meeting at Kobras’s palatial estate.

The Security Commission enters the mansion and the members take their places around a large meeting table. We immediately notice that they are all high-ranking military officers. Tony confirms my observations by mumbling, "High-ranking officers…what are they doing here?" Thank you Tony. That was in case you didn’t realize that men wearing caps and uniforms full of medals and brass buttons are usually related to the military.

"Gentlemen," Kobras begins once the officers take their seats, "I’m so glad that you considered my house a suitable place for this summit meeting." Yes. It’s not unusual for international summit meetings to take place at people’s private residences. Kobras politely takes his leave in order to let them "make their decision". Regarding what? you may ask…me too.

Cut to see Tony doing his cheesy ‘walking-on-air’ special effect inside the house. As the men discuss Kobras’ "credentials" (?), Tony stands outside the door and eavesdrops on the meeting. One of the members notes that it’s a bit strange to hold a meeting of the "heads of state of the entire world" (!!) in somebody’s house. (I agree, brother.) Jane’s father, still under Kobras’ control, explains it away by saying that it makes things "less formal".

We next cut to see Kobras back in his weird little control room where he stands behind the Golden Mask and points it at a one way mirror which looks out over the meeting room. We see a Kobras POV shot of the men in the room through the mask. When we look through the right-side eye hole, all the men on that side of the table simultaneously nod their heads. The camera shifts to the left-side eye hole and we see everybody on that side of the table nod their heads. If you think that sounds stupid, you should see how it looks on the screen. Satisfied that the men are under his control, the so-called "heads of state of the entire world" are dismissed, told to "go home" (!), and await further instructions.

The Pumaman

Kobras chillin’ with Jane, the Mask, and his heads. Life is good.

Jane, meanwhile, receives instructions to kill Tony. "It will be an act of love…from you to me." Believe me, I hope that’s the only act of love involving Donald Pleasence that I’ll ever see.

At this moment Tony teleports his way through the wall and swoops over to attack Kobras. Jane tries to shoot him, but can’t because she’s in love with him and all that crap. Realizing what a threat the Puma Man might be, Kobras turns on a force field around himself and his collection of heads. Puma Man claws and tears at the force field in vain, and is eventually thrown back by the shield.

"You cannot escape Pew-ma Man!" Kobras shouts, oddly mispronouncing ‘puma’ as ‘pee-you-ma’. Maybe it was Donald’s way at getting back at the film makers for making him wear a full-body leather outfit. Anyway, Kobras points the mask at Tony and tries to convince him that his powers are useless. (In fact, he’s got a good point there.)

Feeling the tide turn against him, Tony rooms across the room and tries to teleport through the wall. This time however, Tony’s powers have weakened due to his self-doubt, forcing him to push his way through the wall instead of effortless ‘sliding’ through as normal. You will note from the screen shot that this, er, ‘solid’ stone walls look a lot like cardboard. Also, please note the perfectly sized ‘head-hole’ for the actor’s head to pass through. Man, I love this crap.

Tony eventually hops out a window and ‘flies’ away in the usual manner: rear-projected scenery while he dangles from a wire and flaps around. "I will destroy your powers!" Kobras shouts at a newly created Tony-head which has somehow manifested itself with all the others.

"You can no longer jump into space! Because you are made of Earth! And to Earth you shall return!" Kobras says it what I suspect was a blown line.

The PumamanI guess Kobras is right because Tony slams into a brick wall (part of yet another abandoned warehouse, how convenient) and begins sliding down the side as he desperately grabs at the bricks. I guess Tony still has some Puma Power left because his hands dig two long furrows in the wall as he slides down to the ground. Pay no mind to the handfuls of balsa wood that magically appear out of the, <ahem> ‘bricks’, as his hands rip them from the wall. Tony eventually grabs hold of a window sill and struggles to pull himself inside. (This guy is a super hero?) Thankfully, as usual, Vadinho is there to save Tony’s ass as he pulls the whimpering Puma Man up into the open window.

Meanwhile, back at Kobras Central, Kobras is shouting into the mask, ordering Tony to return to the mansion. The little head which is supposed to represent Tony (yeah, right) starts to crack as Tony resists Kobras’ psychic commands. For some reason the head also starts making noises like celery cracking. Ahh, the mysteries of this film are indeed limitless.

The Pumaman

Tony’s "Control" Head. No. Seriously.

Poor Tony, screaming and tormented by Kobras’s mental commands, begs Vadinho to help him resist. Vadinho holds Tony back and commands him to repeat, "Each man is a God. Each man is free…Each man is a God. Each man is free." This mantric nonsense seems to work, temporarily at least. Kobras seems a bit puzzled by Tony’s "unexpected resistance" and orders BH to "comb the area…find him…but don’t make any noise." Uh, well. Ok, boss. As BH nods his head and leaves to begin his noise-free search, Kobras takes his place behind the mask once again and orders Tony to kill himself.

This time Tony’s will to resist seems weaker. He pretends to be OK to put Vadinho off his guard and then tries to fling himself out the window. Being a wimp, Puma Man can’t even open the window in order to hurl himself out. What a hero this guy is. Vadinho, who once again proves to be much more of a hero than Puma Man, pulls Tony from the brink and comes up with a solution as Tony tries to wiggle his way out of his iron grasp.

The PumamanThe solution? Another super Puma Power that Vadinho has neglected to mention before now: the power to "die" for short periods of time. You see, if Kobras and/or his henchmen can see Tony is dead, they’ll stop looking for him. At least that appears to be Vadinho’s logic. Fair enough, Tony listens to Vadinho’s hypnotic instructions and "dies". Amusingly, this is about the only thing that Tony can do right.

Cut to see Tony laying outside the warehouse…"dead". At that moment up drives BH and a couple other of Kobras’ goons as the ever vigilant Vadinho surreptitiously watches from a broken window.

BH feels Tony’s pulse and finds none. "He’s had it," BH deduces and calls Kobras on the car phone.

"We found him," BH reports, "he’s committed suicide. Should I put a bullet in him just to be sure?"

Now. That is, of course, the logical thing to do. Actually, Bearded Henchman is proving to be the most intelligent character in the entire idiotic movie.

Alas, Kobras poo poos the suggestion…"No. It has to look like an unfortunate accident."

Time out.

Hey, Kobras…Why does it have to look like an accident? What possible freakin’ connection is there between a wimpy paleontologist and Kobras? His body is nowhere near your mansion and the only time you were seen with Tony was at the Dutch Embassy, but everybody there was under your mind control anyway so who cares. Talk about a Plot Contrivance. Capital P. Capital C. Buh-rother!

The Oh-So-Clever Kobras orders BH to "make sure he’s dead" before returning to the mansion. So fine. He feels Tony’s pulse again. Zippo. Listens for breathing. Nothing.

Now, for now other reason than to create unneeded ‘tension’, Tony flinches and rolls his eyes to look around a bit. Huh? Why? Tony is dead. Of course, the Bad Guys catch a glimpse of him moving out of the side of their eyes so they have to go back and check again. Pad Pad Pad that running time, ma’boys. Pad that running time.

So they check again. Yep he’s still dead. They turn to go back to the car and a fly lands on Tony’s face causing him to flinch again. Is he freaking dead or not?! This is truly lame stuff here, folks. Alas, the Bad Guys go back and check again.

Screw Kobras! Shoot him and make sure! You guys are going to Take Over The World for cripes sake! Hell, if you want it to look like an accident, shoot him in the head and then put the pistol in his hand. Arrghghgghg! I hate this crap!

As the goons drive off, Vadinho rushes out (quite quickly actually, the two bad guys left a mere 2 seconds ago…every heard of rear-view mirrors, Vedinho?) and helps Tony sit up and revive himself. "You did it! Now they think you are dead and will leave you alone!" Vadinho reassures him.

"What about the mask?" Tony queries.

"Forget it. You are only a man now," Vadinho replies referring to Tony’s recent loss of super Puma Powers. Sheesh Vadinho, tell it like it is why dontcha.

Back inside the warehouse we see that Vadinho is strapping sticks of dynamite around his waist. (Where did he get those?!) As Tony complains about wanting to free Jane and get the mask, Vadinho calmly explains that maybe the Gods want a sacrifice. Solution? Vadinho will just stroll over to Kobras and blow them both into smithereens. Tony insists on tagging along…to what end is not clear, he just says he has a "personal reason". (Jane? What? Oh brother.) Vadinho aint having it. "I ask you to forgive me," he says as he delivers a hard upper-cut to Tony’s chin and knocks him out.

The PumamanLater that evening we see Vadinho crawling around the Kobras estate planting little sticks of dynamite beside the walls. How he intends to detonate 50 separate sticks spaced about the entire compound, each with a 2 inch fuse, is not clear. It doesn’t matter because Just At That Moment he is captured by BH and the other Bad Guys. "Shoot…and everything will blow up for a mile in all directions," warns Vadinho as he pulls out a little remote-control thingee from his pants. (Sorry about the wording there, but you know what I mean.) He also demands to talk to Kobras. Oh, this should be fun.

Kobras gets the message and turns on a huge video unit on the control room wall.

"What do you want?" Kobras snarls.

"The Gold Mask," Vadinho answers.

"I’m sure we can reach an agreement. Bring him into the Great Hall…treat him like an honored guest," Kobras commands his goons, who promptly march him inside while he is still wearing the dynamite belt!

OK, Kobras, I know you’re duplicitous and Evviiiiilll and are going to betray Vadinho, but think about it dude…you’re bringing Vadinho, your sworn enemy, into your stronghold while he’s wearing a belt of dynamite. Hello? Kobras? Is anybody home? What are you thinking, man?!

<sigh>. Vadinho is marched through the house and as he Just Happens To Pass Jane in the hall, he whispers "Tony is alive." Assuming the Bad Guys who are standing right beside you don’t hear that, Jane is still under Kobras’ control, so Vadinho, you are an idiot too.

Now comes the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the battle of will between Kobras and Vadinho. As Kobras points the mask towards him through the one-way mirror, Vadinho tries to resist by chanting, "Each man is a God. Each man is free." Kobras orders Vadinho to remove the explosive belt, which he does, but then suddenly breaks free of the mental imprisonment (or else he was faking it, who knows) and tosses some sort of explosive device at the mirror which shatters it into a gazillion pieces.

Oh let’s see here. Jane’s Control Head falls to the ground and smashes, so she’s released from Kobras’ sinister control. (Note to Kobras: Make the heads out of something that won’t smash if they’re dropped. Moron.) Jane happens to see Tony’s Control Head laying on the ground so she smashes it with a piece of wood, thus freeing Tony and restoring his Puma Powers. (How all this works is unclear, but there you have it.) Tony immediately Puma-Teleports into Kobras’ mansion and helps Vadinho beat the living tar out of about 30 Bad Guys. So let me ask this one question: Doesn’t anybody have guns? Just shoot these two buffoons and get it over with.

Oh boy, how exciting. As the Puma Man theme song plays over and over in the background, the fist fight continues and continues. This is all so, so bad. Punches don’t connect, ostensibly solid stone walls shake and wobble when people bump into them, and so on. It’s all quite pathetic to be honest.

Throughout all this malarkey, Kobras has been standing behind the Golden Mask trying to draw a bead on Tony, but since Tony is bounding through the air like a, well, man-sized puma, it’s proving rather difficult to fix the mind-control beam onto Tony’s topknot. After three full loops through the entire Puma Man theme song, the Bad Guys are vanquished and Tony goes after Kobras.

The PumamanAs usual, Tony is stymied by the force field that surrounds Kobras and the Golden Mask. This time he actually uses his Puma-Teleport powers to his advantage and sinks down through the floor then back up again inside the force field just behind Kobras. A goofy mini-fight takes place before Kobras drops through a trap-door (!!) and disappears. Tony tears away the floor and jumps down the shaft into a basement which looks very much like the basement at the <ahem> Dutch Embassy. (By the way, why does Tony use precious time tearing open the trap door itself? Why not just teleport through it like he just did to get inside the force field? My head hurts.)

Anyway, the tunnel leads back outside where it’s suddenly day light again. Tony hears the sounds of a helicopter and runs on foot (he doesn’t fly…why not?) towards the sound. A burst of gunfire sends Tony diving to the ground and also turns the scene back into night time again. Strange.

An all-to-familiar routine takes place again: Tony dangling from a wire in front of rear-projected shots of London as he ‘flys’ through the air. To make a long story short, Tony eventually catches up with the chopper, rips off the door, and forces Kobras to lose control. The helicopter turns into a plastic model and crashes into a table-top mountain in a scene that looks like it was edited out of a Gamera movie for not being up to Sandy Frank’s high expectations.

Cut to Where-in-the-hell Henge.

The PumamanTony and Jane join Vadinho who is busy praying to the Gold Mask which he apparently absconded with from the Kobras mansion.

At Vadinho’s command, Tony takes a knee while Jane hangs back and watches the spectacle. Sorry, I meant ‘ceremony’.

Suddenly the giant Ornament / Spaceship reappears (via the exact some footage used in the beginning of the movie. Never mind that the shot shows the spaceship flying through a night sky and as you can plainly see it is supposed to be day time. Did anybody give a rat’s ass about this movie when it was made? I mean that.)

The aliens ‘zap’ the Mask back into the spaceship as Tony asks, "What’s going to happen to the mask?"

"They’re taking it back to its temple in the Andes mountains," Vadinho says with a grin, still oblivious to the fact that the Aztecs did not come from Peru. Oh gee,Vadinho is going with the aliens as well. Why? Who knows.

"Does that mean you’re going to disappear too?" asks Tony in a worried voice. (Oh no, Tony, who’s going to cover your ass now?)

Putting his arm around Tony in a manly embrace, Vadinho says, "If you want to see me again, when you are the father of a small Puma Man [!], take him to the plateau…I will teach him the powers."

"Honor it," Vadinho says, indicating the embroidered symbol of the Puma Man on Tony’s shirt, "Good-bye, Puma Man." With that, the mighty Aztec fades away and the spaceship flies off back into the night sky.

The Pumaman"Jane, tell me it wasn’t all a dream," says Tony with a smile once the spaceship is out of sight.

"You can prove for yourself…jump!"

With a mighty Puma Leap, so to speak, Tony grabs Jane and they rise up into the air.

"Do you think anybody’s ever made love in the air," Jane coos as she hovers in the air safely nestled in Tony’s arms.

Tony grins and says, "But that’s how you make little Puma Men…"

Well, so much for "honoring" the Puma legend.

Idiot.

Cue Puma Them Song for the gazillionth time and roll closing credits.

The End.

Dennis Grisbeck (Apr 2006)

Afterthoughts

You know, I can survive a goofy movie, hell, I can even forgive it. Yet there is something criminally bad with The Pumaman. Who could ever root for a whiner like Tony Farms, aka, the Puma Man? What is the deal with the paper-mache heads? Why does Vadinho only tell Tony about certain powers just in a nick of time? And so on and so on and so on…

Let’s compare Tony’s powers with those of a real puma:

Puma Man Real Puma Comment
Flying No WTF?
Clawing Yes Tony uses his hands "like claws" to rip open doors and walls
Night Vision No Cats do have better night vision than humans, but they don’t see in total darkness. What a load of crap .
Sensing Danger No Once again, WTF?
Leaping Yes A puma can leap just as Tony does but without the goofy sound effects.
Teleportation No As far as I know there are no documented cases of teleporting pumas.
Feign Death No Uh, whatever dude.

Well, I could shoot fish in a barrel and nitpick this movie to death, but it just hurts too bad and I’m going to go and listen to the soothing sounds of a dentist’s drill in order to get that theme song out of my head. Egads, this was a bad movie.

Read more about The Puma Man at

IMDB

13 comments to The Pumaman (1980)

  • guts3d

    No teleporting Pumas? This one was the best ( IMHO ) MST3K that I have ever seen. I can watch this anytime, anywhere. This has to be your best review of all, Dennis! Keep ’em coming!

  • Lol…the Best?! Out of all these quality reviews?! 🙂

  • guts3d

    Yup, I remember rolling on the floor reading this. The other reviews are just as good, but this stands out. Mybe since it was the first review of yours that I read I thought it better, but I still review this one from time to time. Capital!

  • monoceros4

    So if Tony wanted to fool the bad guys into thinking he was dead by going into hibernation or whatever, shouldn’t have have thrown himself into a canal first? Or poured ketchup on himself? Something, anything, other than lying on the ground without a mark on him?

    One thing to be said for this movie: at least Donald Pleasance seems to get a bit more out of it than he did from Warrior of the Lost World.

  • Zach

    Gah what a dumb hero. It would’ve made more sence to call him something else like….uh….. Retarted Powers Man but no we’re stuck with Pumaman.
    “Puma man. He Flies like a Moron!”

  • Guts3d

    Gah! The Casio® music loop to this is still rolling in my head… When will it end?

  • Oh Guts….you know you love it. And it never, never, never, never, never, never, never leaves your head. Do you feel the walls closing in on you yet? Do you?

  • Guts3d

    Unfortunately… Yes!!! Stooooooooopppp!!!!!!

  • guts3d

    …”My father was a physician,” Tony snarls, obviously not impressed that BAG knew that his father jumped in the air.

    Hahahaha! I don’t know why, but this line came back to me this morning and I just had to read the review again. Still my favorite review!

  • guts3d

    To make a long story short, Tony borrows a “position indicator” (read: homing device), which is an item that all firemen probably have laying in the back seat.

    My older brother was a fireman (here in the States) and he never had a “position indicator” in his back seat. I’ll have to chastise him for that.

  • Guts3d

    …An all-to-familiar routine takes place again: Tony dangling from a wire in front of rear-projected shots of London as he ‘flys’ through the air. To make a long story short, Tony eventually catches up with the chopper, rips off the door, and forces Kobras to lose control. The helicopter turns into a plastic model and crashes into a table-top mountain in a scene that looks like it was edited out of a Gamera movie for not being up to Sandy Frank’s high expectations.

    Hahahaha!!! I loved this line!If you ever get a chance, watch the MST3K version of this movie, it is my all time favorite. Space Mutiny, Final Sacrifice, and This Island Earth are close runners up!

  • Guts3d

    … Tony still refuses to believe all this nonsense, compelling Vadinho to remark, “You are the worst I have ever seen. But you are the Pumaman!”

    How many Puma-men ha he seen? Obviously, Tony’s dad, But I reeeeee-ally doubt that he is old enough to have seen Tony’s grandfather. Still my favorite review!

  • I know, I love the MST3K take on this one 🙂

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