Never one to miss an opportunity for exploitation Charles Band – perhaps the only filmmaker to complete two features during corona lockdown – delivers a timely sequel to Corona Zombies centering around the pop culture’s obsession with Netflix’s Tiger King series. As with the first installment, Barbie & Kendra Save the Tiger King combines re-dubbed footage from old exploitation films with new footage that includes an exclusive interview with John Reinke, the famed former employee of Joe Exotic, aka The Tiger King, himself.
Barbie & Kendra picks up exactly where Corona Zombies left off. Barbie (a returning Cody Renee Cameron) returns home to the Bodega Bay Trailer Park, in Santa Monica, CA, with her coveted toilet paper to meet best friend Kendra (Robin Sydney). She is now addicted to a documentary on BPN (Big P***y Network) telling Joe Exotic’s story. We join the girls in watching the doc, which details Exotic’s childhood as a young boy lost in the jungle pursued by his amnesiac mother and cocky tour guide. In between, Barbie and Kendra decide they want to save the “Tiger King” and reach out to John Reinke, the actual former employee who tragically lost both his legs in a zipline accident. Ultimately, they head down a path that sets them up for the next installment.
“…Barbie and Kendra decide they want to save the ‘Tiger King’ and reach out to John Reinke…”
Basically, if you enjoyed Corona Zombies, you’ll probably enjoy this. It’s the same ridiculous re-interpretation of forgotten films found in Woody Allen‘s What’s Up, Tiger Lily? and Steve Oedekerk’s Kung Pow: Enter the Fist blended with social commentary on current events. The jokes are silly, filled with puns and obscure film references (“Blue Sunshine” is a favorite) as two unrelated films are spliced together to form a new narrative: the saga of Tiger King Joe Exotic.
You may actually recognize the movies used here if you’re a connoisseur of 1968 low-budget indie films. First, there’s Terror in the Jungle, which was partially directed by Tom DeSimone, perhaps best known for heralding Reform School Girls, Hell Night, and Chatterbox! (a 1977 film where a young woman discovers her vagina can talk – this is real and on Amazon Prime so watch it immediately). DeSimone also helmed a good amount of gay porn. The other movie is Luana, the Girl Tarzan, a typical third-rate Italian jungle flick starring Evi Marandi from Mario Bava’s absolute classic Planet of the Vampires. Neither one is particularly good on their own, but strung together here, they make for entertaining visuals at the very least.
"…even filmmakers who champion nudity, gore, and exploitation can have their hearts in the right place."