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River of Death

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River of Death
River of Death Poster.jpg
Theatrical Release Poster
Country Flag of the United States.jpg USA
Directed by Steve Carver
Release Date 1989
Studio Breton Film Productions
Cannon International
Pathe Communications
Distributor Cannon Group
Main Cast
Character Actor
John Hamilton Michael Dudikoff
Dr. Wolfgang Manteuffel Robert Vaughn
Heinrich Spaatz Donald Pleasence
Col. Ricardo Diaz Herbert Lom
Eddie Hiller L.Q. Jones
Anna Blakesley Sarah Maur Thorp
Maria Cynthia Erland
Doc Blakesley Victor Melleney

River of Death is a 1989 screen adaptation of the adventure novel by Alistair MacLean, directed by Steve Carver. An expedition in Amazonian rain forests searches for a legendary "Lost City" but finds something quite different: a secret laboratory of escaped Nazi scientist who works on bio warfare.

Note: while the story takes place in Brazil, the movie was filmed in South Africa, hence the choice of screen guns.

The following weapons were used in the film River of Death:


Tranter Revolver

Tranter Revolvers, most likely a 1868 cartridge model, are Eddie Hiller's (L.Q. Jones), Tracy's (Norman Anstey) and Col. Ricardo Diaz' (Herbert Lom) personal handguns.

Tranter M1868 - .450
Tracy fires a revolver when his G3 runs dry.
The grip of the revolver is seen when Tracy falls overboard, hit by several arrows.
A close view of Hiller's revolver.
Hiller fires.
Diaz runs with a revolver in hand.
A view of Diaz' revolver from the muzzle.

Varan PMX-90

Varan PMX-90 pistols are used by John Hamilton (Michael Dudikoff) and Pare (Rufus Swart).

Varan PMX-90 - 9x19mm
Hamilton draws his pistol when Pare and Dalia enter his room.
A close view of the pistol.
Pare draws his pistol.
Hamilton fires during the shootout with river pirates.
Pare fires during the night scene.

Luger P08

A Luger P08 is a personal handgun of Dr. Wolfgang Manteuffel (Robert Vaughn). In the final scene his pistol is seen in hands of Heinrich Spaatz (Donald Pleasence).

Luger P08 - 9x19mm
Manteuffel aims his Luger in the opening scene.
Spaatz disarms Manteuffel in the final scene.
Spaatz aims the pistol.
The Luger on the floor.

Walther P38

Heinrich Spaatz (Donald Pleasence) carries a Walther P38. What appears to be a P38 is seen in holster of Captain Schuster (Crispin De Nuys) in the opening scene.

Walther P38 WWII dated with black grips - 9x19mm
A pistol is seen in Schuster's holster.
Spaatz fires his Walther.
Another view of Spaatz' pistol.
Hamilton attacks a Walther-wielding Aryan Guard.

Browning Hi-Power

A Browning Hi-Power is used by Spaatz' assistant Fanjul (Gordon Mulholland). During the night attack on river pirates base John Hamilton's (Michael Dudikoff) Varan PMX-90 switches to a Hi-Power, and later Hamilton is seen only with this pistol.

Browning Hi-Power "Type 73" - 9x19mm
Hamilton fires a Hi-Power during the night attack.
Fanjul draws his pistol.
A close view of the gun.
A view from muzzle.
Hamilton's weapons for the final battle: a Hi-Power in holster, a Heckler & Koch P2A1 flare pistol and a pair of Mk 2 hand grenades.
Hamilton in the final battle.

Webley & Scott Metropolitan Police Pistol

Dalia (Foziah Davidson) carries a Webley & Scott Metropolitan Police Pistol.

Webley & Scott Metropolitan Police Pistol - .32 ACP
Dalia fires her pistol during the shootout with river pirates.
Dalia fires at natives in boats.

M1911-style pistol

A river pirate draws an M1911-style pistol in the night scene.

Pre-War Colt M1911A1 Pistol - Commercial Model known as the "Colt Government Model" - .45 ACP
A pirate has a 1911 tucked at his belt.
He draws the pistol.

Submachine Guns

Vigneron M2

Col. Ricardo Diaz (Herbert Lom) carries a Vigneron M2 SMG during the events in the Lost City. His SMG is briefly held by John Hamilton (Michael Dudikoff). While used by Wehrmacht soldiers in April 1945, Vigneron SMGs stand for MP40s.

Vigernon M2 - 9x19mm
A Wehrmacht soldier fires a Vigernon, standing for MP40.
Diaz carries a Vigernon on sling.
Diaz fires.
A close view of the barrel.
Hamilton aims Diaz' SMG.

Heckler & Koch MP5

What appears to be some version of Heckler & Koch MP5 is briefly seen in hands of a river pirate during the night scene.

Heckler & Koch MP5A2 with early "slimline" handguard - 9x19mm
Supposed MP5 is seen at the left...
...and at the right.


Atis R.G. 700

During the expedition Pare (Rufus Swart) uses a Atis R.G. 700 shotgun with synthetic furniture. It seems to be the same gun that is seen in Red Scorpion, also filmed in South Africa the same year.

Atis R.G. 700 - 12 gauge
Pare with a shotgun and Dalia with a Webley & Scott pistol in shootout with river pirates.
Pare holds his shotgun on board of the former pirates ship. Next to him the mortar is seen.
River of Death-Shotgun-4.jpg
Pare in shootout with attacking natives.
He runs out of ammo.
Pare's shotgun and Hamilton's FN FAL.


Sporterized Lee-Enfield

When John Hamilton (Michael Dudikoff) participated in expedition of Doc Blakesley, he carries a sporterized Lee-Enfield rifle. Due to the shape of the stock, it appears to be a converted military SMLE rather than Lee-Speed Sporter.

Enfield 303 Sporter - .303 British
Hamilton holds his rifle. The shape of the buttstock matches military SMLE.
The bolt handle is seen.
Hamilton grapples with natives. The typical Lee-Enfield magazine is seen partially.

Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.III*

What appears to be a Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.III* is seen in hands of river pirates during the night scene.

Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.III* - .303 British
A pirate at the right holds an SMLE (marked with a green arrow).
River of Death-SMLE-1.jpg
An SMLE is seen at the left.

Karabiner 98k

Karabiner 98k rifles are used by Wehrmacht soldiers in April 1945. During the main events 98k rifles are used by Manteuffel's Aryan Guards. They are also seen in hands of a Diaz' helicopter pilot and a policeman.

Karabiner 98k - German manufacture 1937 date - 7.92x57mm Mauser
A Wehrmacht soldier with a 98k rifle in the opening scene.
A policeman behind Col. Diaz holds a 98k rifle.
A policeman and helicopter pilot hold their rifles.
The helicoper pilot holds his 98k.
A close view of the rifle.
Aryan Guards with 98k rifles.
Aryan Guards with 98k rifles guard the entrance of Manteuffel's headquarters in the ancient temple.
Aryan Guards with G3 and 98k fire at attacking natives in the final scene.

Vz.24 Czech Mauser

In the opening scene a German soldier holds a rifle that looks similar to Karabiner 98k but has a groove on the stock and a different rear sight. A Czech Vz.24 seems to be a good guess.

Czech vz. 24 - 7.92x57mm Mauser
River of Death-Mauser-1.jpg

Assault Rifles


John Hamilton's (Michael Dudikoff) main gun is an FN FAL. During the encounter with river pirates Hamilton uses his rifle to fire a rifle grenade at pirates ship. Several pirates also carry FALs.

FN FAL 50.00 - 7.62x51mm NATO
Hamilton aims his FAL with rifle grenade.
A second after the grenade is shot.
A pirate at the left holds a FAL (marked with a red arrow).
Hamilton gives his FAL to Pare (Rufus Swart).
Pare's shotgun and Hamilton's FAL.
Hamilton is surrounded by natives.
He fires the FAL.
Spaatz (Donald Pleasence) grabs Hamilton's FAL while Hamilton himself holds Diaz' Vigneron M2.

Heckler & Koch G3

During the expedition Eddie Hiller (L.Q. Jones) and Tracy (Norman Anstey) carry Heckler & Koch G3 rifles. G3s are also used by Aryan Guards and river pirates.

Heckler & Koch G3A3 with slimline handguard - 7.62x51mm NATO
Tracy fires his G3 during the battle against river pirates.
Hiller fires in the same scene.
Tracy with a G3 during the night attack on pirates base.
A pirate holds a G3.
A close view of Hiller's G3.
Aryan Guards with G3s and Karabiner 98k rifles ambush the remains of the expedition.
Aryan Guards escort Hamilton, Spaarz and Maria.
Aryan Guards with G3 and 98k fire at attacking natives in the final scene.

Machine Guns


A Browning M1919A4 machine gun is used by Aryan Guards.

Browning M1919A4 on an M2 tripod - .30-06 Springfield
The M1919 on position.
Another view of the machine gun.
The gunner fires at attacking natives.

Other Weapons

Mk 2 Hand Grenade

During the battle in the Lost City John Hamilton (Michael Dudikoff) uses Mk 2 hand grenades.

Mk 2 "Pineapple" World War II-made High-Explosive Fragmentation hand grenade (sometimes written Mk II)
Hamilton's weapons for the final battle: a Browning Hi-Power in holster, a Heckler & Koch P2A1 flare pistol and a pair of Mk 2 hand grenades.
A Mk 2 grenade in a second before explosion.

Unidentified Hand Grenade

During the encounter with native tribesmen John Hamilton (Michael Dudikoff) uses an unidentified cylinder-shaped hand grenade. Its general outlook matches several smoke grenades of British and American origin. The grenade lacks any inscriptions on its body.

Hamilton takes a grenade...
...and throws it.

Energa Rifle Grenade

During the encounter with river pirates John Hamilton (Michael Dudikoff) uses his FN FAL to fire an Energa rifle grenade at a pirate's ship.

Energa rifle grenade (M29 training grenade) - 75mm
Hamilton aims his FAL with rifle grenade.

Heckler & Koch P2A1

A Heckler & Koch P2A1 flare pistol is seen among the belongings of the expedition. John Hamilton (Michael Dudikoff) uses it during the battle in the Lost City. In the final scene the flare pistol is used by Maria (Cynthia Erland).

Heckler & Koch P2A1 Flare Pistol - 26.5mm
Hamilton and Pare prepare weapons for expedition. Hamilton holds an open flare pistol.
Serrano (Alain D. Woolf) finds a flare pistol after the shipwreck.
Hamilton's weapons for the final battle: a Browning Hi-Power in holster, a P2A1 flare pistol and a pair of Mk 2 hand grenades.
Hamilton aims the flare pistol after he runs out of ammo for the Hi-Power.
Maria holds the flare pistol.

Unidentified Mortar

A mortar of supposedly 81mm caliber is mounted on the river pirates ship. After the adventurers capture the ship, Eddie Hiller (L.Q. Jones) mans the mortar. The size and shape of mortar shells match British Ordnance ML 3 inch Mortar but the gun itself looks different.

The mortar on the bow of pirates ship.
The mortar is seen when the adventurers capture the ship.
A close view of the muzzle of the mortar at the left.
Hiller loads a shell during the attack of natives in boats.
He corrects aiming...
...and loads another shell.

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