Author's family sues makers of steamy Tarzan film

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The Independent Online
In these days of sophisticated mores, when the "Me Tarzan, you Jane" school of social etiquette is verging on the socially unacceptable, there are some people who still wish to defend the apeman's unblemished reputation.

In a bid to keep Tarzan's image "wholesome", the descendants of his creator, author Edgar Rice Burroughs, are suing the makers of a pornographic film and CD-Rom for vulgarising the jungle hero's image.

It cannot be denied that in the original 26 novels starring the Tarzan of the Apes character - and in the even more famous films - he strutted around skimpily dressed and was prone to clutching jungle-mate Jane to his manly chest, claiming to protect her.

But he did not indulge in fellatio, sodomy, group sex or even straightforward intercourse, and the family of Edgar Rice Burroughs, who own the company which controls the Tarzan image, maintain he should not.

The family has accused Jungle Heat, a porn movie, of being "nothing more than a lewd, vulgar and highly offensive film".

While the character in the movie, also released in a French version entitled Dard'zan: The Humiliation of Jane, is called Tarzan only once, he goes by Tarzan's other name, Ape Man, and shares many Tarzan traits, according to the family's legal suit.

"For example, Ape Man wears a loin cloth and carries a knife, he lives in the jungle and repeatedly emits the famous and unique Tarzan yell, he swings from vine to vine in the jungle, he rescues Jane from peril and he is accompanied by his animal friend, Cheeta," it said.

Burroughs, who died in 1950, founded the family corporation, Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc, in 1923, to control the image of Tarzan, who first swung from the trees in 1912.

The company is based in Tarzana, California, the community which was named after the character in 1930. Since then, it has licensed daily comic strips, 46 feature films and more than 150 television shows in 72 countries.

But it did not approve the film, whose video jacket claims to "explore in exhausting detail the steamy passion that blazed between Jane and her Jungle King".

The suit names Ultimate Video of Chatsworth, California, Excalibur Entertainment of Fullerton, California, Thorn Distributors of Hauppage, New York, and director Joe D'Amato of Italy.

Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc wants the makers of Jungle Heat to pay unspecified damages, to stop the film from being distributed, and to recall and destroy all extant copies of the movie.