The Pumaman

Director: Alberto De Martino

Italy - 1980

  Hoff! Hoff! Hoff! Hoff! 


"You are the worst I have ever seen, but you are the Pumaman."

                                                                                            -- Vadinho

Flying over Stonehenge, a UFO drops off a magical golden mask. A voice-over alien promises that the mask will be protected by hHey! Where are all the little children?is son, and his sons after him. They will be man-gods; blessed with the infinite powers of the puma (a Puma-man, if you will).

Naturally, any device of great power must eventually fall into the wrong hands. Quicker than you can say Warrior Queen, the mask falls into the evil hands of Kobras (Donald Pleasance!). He discovers that the mask can control the human mind (not unlike Pabst Blue Ribbon), which can be very helpful when wanting to take over the world.

Unfortunately, plans for world domination are cut short when alien hieroglyphics reveal that the mask is protected. Any ne’er-do-well who attempts to use it for evil will fall to a grisly demise by Pumaman. 

So logically, Kobras must eliminate the mask’s guardian. But how does one go about finding a Pumaman?

Easy. By throwing random men out skyscraper windows. If they splat, they’re obviously nNo use hiding, Don.ot Pumaman.

So Kobras and his goons spend lazy summer afternoons tossing random men out skyscraper windows. On the other side of town, Vadinho, native shaman and friend to all Pumamen, does his part in finding the man-god. Not wanting to break from the tried-and-true method, he too tosses random men out skyscraper windows.

Vadinho soon comes across Tony Farms, a paleontologist working at a local museum. After Tony survives his window toss, Vadinho runs up to him, tells him he’s a Pumaman, and disappears. He’s just mysterious like that.

(This later segues into the obligatory: “I’m not a Pumaman” and “You are a Pumaman!” conflict, but let’s skip it.)Pumaman utilizes his power of Wedgie.

Unfortunately, Vadinho isn’t the only one who discovers Farms’ hidden gift. Kobras sets his sights on the heroic paleontologist, for once the Pumaman is out of the way, nothing can stop him from taking over - the world!!! (Pronounced “verld” with an echo effect to increase menace.)

This review is part of Secret Santa, the latest B-Masters’ roundtable. Lyz, of And You Call Yourself A Scientist! fame, drew my name. I must admit that she went fairly easy on me. Out of mercy? Charity? Who knows? Pumaman isn’t a good film, but it’s not that painful, either.

The acting is sub-par, but that’s to be expected. Besides, Donald Pleasance is always a treat. He hams like none other: The beady eyes. The emotionless line delivery. The shiny pate. As a director, you can’t go wrong with big Don.Wow! Is that Big Ben?

But you can go wrong with Walter George Alton. It’s nothing personal. Considering the material, he does just fine. But why get Gary Busey when you can just as easily hire Nick Nolte? Meaning, Alton wants to be Dirk Benedict so bad he can just taste it. Fresh off Battlestar Galactica, Dirk could’ve brought some star-power punch to the production. Or was Donald Pleasance supposed to provide the ratings’ draw?      

There was lots of action; fighting and what-not. I’m not talking about fancy-schmancy wire work or characters freezing in mid-air while a bullet flies between their legs. Apparently, Pumaman likes to mix the power of B. A. Baracus with the unorthodox dork-fu of William Shatner. We get someVadinho thug tossing (across cars, into walls, but sadly, not into dumpsters) along with a dabble of “In real life, that would’ve never connected.” Things like Pumaman falling between the legs of an attacker, then kicking him in the chest. With the lightning speed of, say, Jackie Chan, I might be able to accept this feat. With the clumsiness of Walter George Alton, however, it proves a bit harder to swallow. And if you’re going to pay homage to Shatner, everyone knows you have to throw in a weak chop to the back of the neck. It’s a staple.

Perhaps a chop to the back of the neck would’ve prevented Our Hero from being made a fool of by Donald Pleasance. Pumaman beats on a dozen bad guys without breaking a sweat, only to be out-muscled by Donald Pleasance in the film’s finale? Suspending disbelief, I can accept Pleasance as a criminal mastermind. But he’s just a little too doughy to be slapping around a man-god. Unless that man-god happened to be Corey Haim. 


Stonehenge has always been a great place to pick up chicks.




These are the times of which to cherish...

- Vadinho is a proud member of The Temple of the God Who Came From Other Worlds. If any organization was in desperate need of an acronym, this would be it.

- Hypnosis through shaky cam! Why spend lots of money on special effects? We’ll just screw with camera lens! Nobody will know the difference!

- Pumaman spends a great deal of time flying and looking. Flying. Then looking. Then back to flying. Nothing is more exciting than bad blue-screen flight interrupted by periodic pauses to look around. It truly completes the effect.

- I can understand having a protector for a mask that could enslave the world, but it begs the question: Why bother dropping the mask off in the first place?

- The stirring love theme from Pumaman.  

- Pumaman, as the name implies, is blessed with all the wondrous powers of a puma, which include:

  1. The power of flight.
  2. The power to tear steel and crumble bricks with your bare hands.
  3. The power to teleport (I have a great story about this puma that teleported into my grandmother’s bathroom in Wyoming, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll refrain).
  4. The power to see in the dark.
  5. The power to punch guys really hard (my grandma was punched by said puma, but again, we should probably skip it).


-- Copyright © 2001 by J. Bannerman




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