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VCL 1104 1034

Artwork copyright (c) 2004 Columbia Pictures Corporation; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



Cheesy, breezy fun


These days it seems that every few days, a big-budget movie comes out based on a comic strip most people have never heard of.  Go back a few years and, of course, you only got the cream of the crop, like Superman.  Right?  Wrong.  Sheena was a 1950s comic strip, essentially a female version of Tarzan.  This album's liner notes include a quote from the comic's creator which is so funny I feel the need to reproduce it here: "[I was asked] whether I could do a knock-off [of Tarzan].  I replied that my shop was known for its original material and that I didn't like the idea of doing a male jungle hero... so I asked why couldn't we have a jungle heroine?"  Now, there's creative thinking and originality at its finest.

It was turned into a movie in 1984 after (believe it or not) a decade of desperate trying by the film's producer, with renowned director John Guillerman at the helm.  Despite featuring the lovely Tanya Roberts as Sheena herself, and a horse painted with white stripes to make it look like a zebra (more creative thinking from Hollywood's finest), the film was an enormous critical and commercial flop.  Providing the music was Richard Hartley who doesn't have a particularly big name in film music circles, but who has worked with a surprising number of top directors.  Varese Sarabande issued the LP back when the film was released.  In November 2004 it became the most surprising and bizarre entry in the record label's CD Club so far and - much to many people's amazement - sold out quicker than you could say "scraping the barrel". 

In fact, the music is really quite good, and deserves its place on CD.  Things don't start too promisingly, with "Sheena's Theme" being a thinly-veiled reworking of Vangelis's Chariots of Fire, but fortunately by "Introduction / One Way Ticket" the synths have largely disappeared and a full-on orchestral action/adventure score has begun.  It's great fun, with a good theme for the action heroine and some spirited action writing.  OK, so it's no Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it's entertaining stuff.  Hartley does take things in different directions sometimes, with one or two reprises of the Chariots of Fire theme, and a strangely mesmerising percussion track "African Ballet".  It's with the more orchestral action music that the score comes into its own, however, and there are some terrific tracks like "Marika and the Water Deer", "The Encounter" and the sweeping "Come on Vic Casey".  OK, it is mostly cheesy stuff, but it's hard to fault the entertainment value and, much though it is very hard to take this being the film music CD which set the record for selling out quicker than any that had gone before, it's a lot of fun.


  1. Sheena's Theme (2:50)
  2. Interlude (:40)
  3. Introduction / One Way Ticket (6:13)
  4. Climb! / Young Sheena (5:55)
  5. Marika and the Water Deer (2:12)
  6. African Ballet (1:51)
  7. The Encounter (3:43)
  8. Shaman Taught Me (1:56)
  9. The Circle (1:11)
  10. Come On Casey (2:18)
  11. May I? (1:41)
  12. End Title (2:59)