I first fell in love with Tawny Kitaen when I was just entering my teens, and snuck in to see a young Tom Hanks in the film, BACHELOR PARTY. The young actress was stunning, and, while we didn't get to see as much of her as I would have liked, I did develop one of the definitive crushes of my formative years. Of course, Kitaen would go on to become the “official” Whitesnake girl, in which she would dance on the hood of future ex-husband, David Coverdale's, Jaguar, but, as I got older (and Tawny's hair got higher), I moved on to other celebrity obsessions, and sort of forgot about her.
And then came The Surreal Life.
I don't know how many of you watch this show, but the crux of it is that many former stars are forced to spend a week together in a house, The Real World-style, and viewers are given the chance to watch them disintegrate before their very eyes. Tawny Kitaen made an appearance one season and…wow…time wasn't kind to her. Picture Mickey Rourke in a wig, and you'll kind of see what I'm getting at.
Thank god for Severin Films, then, as they have dug up a lost classic that features a fresh-faced Tawny in one of her first roles, as the frequently topless adventurer, Gwendoline!
Kitaen, of course, plays Gwendoline, a virginal young lady in search of her father; a butterfly hunter who was on an expedition in search of a rare butterfly that he'd hoped to name after himself. Gwendoline, accompanied by her pal Beth (Zabou), finds herself running through the streets of Singapore, trekking through the mountain home of the Cheops tribe, and falling in love with a roguish boat captain named Willard (Huff).
During the height of my Tawny-mania, I had rented the R-rated Indiana Jones spoof many a time, under the name of The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak. Directed by Emmanuelle helmer, Just Jaeckin, this was by no means an erotic classic, but it did have its charms, as well as a far-out tale that raised Gwendoline to the high-camp levels of BARBARELLA and GALAXINA. However, much like my obsession with Tawny Kitaen, Gwendoline was all but forgotten as I found myself drawn to smut of a completely different variety.
Severin has rekindled my love affair with Mrs. Kitaen, however, offering up both the unrated version of the film (titled, simply, GWENDOLINE), as well as the R-rated The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak. Both versions feature interviews and trailers, but the special uncut version also sports a commentary by Jaeckin, and an interview with the creator of the Gwendoline comic series on which the film is based. While the uncut version boasts a bit more nudity than its R-rated counterpart, the film isn't nearly as salacious as one would hope. However, it's still fairly entertaining stuff, and well worth picking up if you like your softcore porn spiced up with ample doses of violence, a crazy action/fantasy storyline, and better-than-average production values.