So after our lil’ excursion to Russia and a movie that was actually pretty darn good… how about we jump in the wayback machine to return to the wild euro-trash cinema of the 1980’s for our next “Thrilling Adventures!! March Movie Review Festival” offering here at the ol’ Litterbox and a look at a film reputed to be one of the worst ever made by infamous euro-sleaze director Jess Franco, 1983’s “Diamonds of Kilimandjaro”.
Our synopsis goes like this: “A group of greedy explorers and soldiers of fortune take a safari deep into uncharted Africa to search for the daughter of a dying woman lost years before as a child in a plane crash. That child, Diana, has grown to womanhood as the White Goddess of a tribe of vicious natives guarding the secret of a horde of diamonds worth millions. Will their greed, lust, and murderous plots result in riches or death for them all in the heart of the savage jungle?”
So this time out we get promised two-fisted heroes, a treasure of diamonds, and even a spunky jungle girl to boot! Somehow though… I have the feeling it’s all gonna go spectacularly bad…. 😉 But I’m a big girl now… and suitably warned, I’m ready to experience the horror that is… “Diamonds of Kilimandjaro”.
Our film gets going with a flashback in which some goofy Scotsman and his granddaughter survive this awful small plane crash somewhere in the heart of “Darkest Africa” only to be mistaken as Gods by some tribe of vicious natives… A really goofy sequence in which our natives see the plane in trouble do that really fake plane crash bit where you fly close to the ground while they dub in some stupid sputtery motor noises and then quickly cut to an explosion juuussst over the horizon. Yeah… right. Then our “natives” arrive… scampering to the crash site out of a cornfield. Yes… an honest-to-goodness cornfield, all cultivated and farm fresh… implausibly out in the middle of our impenetrable jungle. Carolyn took one look at that and started laughing so hard that I think she finally understood exactly what the fun of truly bad movies can be. The whole silly scene pretty much summed up what kind of cinema experience this one was gonna be… 🙂
Years pass, and a group of european explorers venture into that same area in search of our film’s title treasure… the “Diamonds of Kilimandjaro”. Which actually seems to mean a bunch of sparkly crystals that look like the quartz inside a hunk of shattered geode… as for Kilimandjaro? It’s not really ever mentioned, nor is its iconic peak ever even seen throughout the entirety of this fairly abysmal film. Safari leader and guide, Payton (played by Albino Graziani) manages to get himself and his people captured by the tribe and one by one they are killed by their absolutely psychotic priestess Noba (played by Aline Mess) for their foolish greedy attempts to steal the sacred treasures of her people. She’s one mean lil’ native wench… with a mean streak a mile wide and about the only actor in this film with a clear understanding of her role: “Be sexy, crazy, homicidal, and run around topless as often as you can.” It’s a role she seems to like a lot… 😉
Luckily for Payton, she not the only sexy topless jungle girl in this movie, as our heroine Diana (played by 80’s German sex kitten, Katja Bienert) has grown up and become the stereotypical “White Jungle Goddess”, whose main job appears to be lounging around in the trees all day half-naked eating fruit and gazing at the wonders of nature with her pet monkey. Oh… and rouse herself from her daydreams long enough occasionally to save such unfortunate and unworthy doofuses like Payton when the need arises. Nice work if you can get it, I guess.
She hears the horrible screams and clumsily swings through the trees to the rescue. Interceding on behalf of that worthless thieving creep, she uses the clout you get by being a Goddess to allow Payton to flee with his miserable life much to the downright annoyance and scorn of High Priestess Noba. Not a real fan of our nature girl Diana, it seems… you just know that’s gonna pop up later in our movie. Sexy interracial jungle girl catfight, anyone? (Sadly… as much as it seems like a gem of an exploitative plot notion for a movie like this, it never ever happens… why is anyone’s guess. Maybe in the remake… 😉 )
Of course Payton tells all about his miraculous savior once he gets back to civilization, and it isn’t long before a buddy of his the sleazy guide and hunter Pereira (played by Antonio Mayans) decides to cash in on the info by promising Diana’s ailing mother Hermine (played by Franco film regular Lina Romay), on her death-bed that he and Payton can “bring her back alive” from the depths of the jungle. Problem is… her Uncle Mathieu (played by Oliver Mathot) and Diana’s slutty cousin Lita (played by Mari Carmen Nieto) have no desire to be happily reunited with the lost girl and lose out on inheriting the old lady’s fortune. So of course they immediately sign on to join the dangerous expedition… for Diana’s sake of course. Right…. 😉
Lita… yep, she’s quite the scheming lil’ bitch. She pretty much shows us her major place in our story right away with a risqué sex scene with Uncle Mathieu cementing their plan to leave Diana in the jungle if they actually find her… kill her if need be… and split the inheritance. Only one other player needs to join our expedition to make it complete, hulking Safari boss Rofo (played by Javier Maiza). He’s that stereotypical Type-A “Alpha Male” macho asshole that always comes into one of these stories to brutally drive the poor native bearers and generally bully anyone else he can until somebody kills him later in the story. There we go. Body count…. errrr…. I mean “cast”… complete. 😉
So, then, all plans in place, “Evil Uncle”, “Wicked Slut”, “Thieving Gigolo”, and “Vicious Thug” all head out on safari… Hmmm, you just know this isn’t going to go well. At least for them, anyways… 😉
Sigh… Which pretty much means I’m not fond of any of the characters as heroes or heroines. The most sympathetic is Diana the Jungle Girl… but she’s pretty much a vapid empty-headed airhead bimbo who spends practically every moment lounging around in the trees in some goofy daze. The main villain Noba has more real charisma than the entire rest of the cast, but… but… she’s the villain!! I can’t root for her, even if she is justifiably pissed off at the white people trying to invade her people’s lands and steal their stuff…. And the rest of our cast? My goodness… a more self-centered and greedy bunch of characters I could never have imagined inhabiting the same film.
So the rest of our story plays out as you might expect. The safari finds Diana… eventually… after blundering around the jungle stupidly killing a couple tribesman to really give Noba a reason to go on the warpath. Diana’s Grandpa? He’s the hopelessly nuttier-than-a-fruitcake honorary “Great White Chief” of the tribe and suffering some kind of paranoid dementia that has him wanting to aid Noba in killing anybody he thinks might be after the treasure. No a lot of sympathy there, as he hangs out in his hut playing bagpipes and mumbling about “his precious” like a Scottish gollum.
Our ridiculously tiny expedition dies off one by one… first drunken Payton, beheaded by Noba, then Rofo with the classic poison arrow in the back, finally Uncle Mathieu and Lita as they bumbled about helplessly in the jungle. Sleazy gigolo Pereira at least fares slightly better, bedding both Lita and our hopelessly horny Diana before ditching her and trying to make a lone getaway with the diamonds and then getting shot by crazy grandpa.
End result? Pretty much right back where we started with crazy grandpa ruling the tribe and obsessing over the diamonds while Diana can return to her tree for some more lazing about and daydreaming. Yep. That’s it.
So, by the standards we set for our marathon, “Diamonds of Kilimandjaro” pretty much blows it. There’s a treasure… but it’s pretty lame. I’ve seen better looking diamonds at the dollar store than the ones on display here. There’s no exciting safari… no thrilling deathtraps or menaces to avoid. No real heroes or heroines at all, let alone an intrepid adventurer to match Indiana Jones… Our jungle girl? She’s pretty enough… although she could have avoided all the closeups that really let you see her acne. Oooohhh! And for a “natural” topless jungle girl, she has the most embarrassing bikini tan lines on her breasts…. Sigh… with it’s wooden acting… terrible cinematography… … editing that looks like it was done with a chainsaw… and lousy locations that look almost nothing like the jungle, there’s really nothing about this one that I can recommend at all. I’m not certain I’d call this Jess Franco’s worst film, but I’m certain it’s pretty darn close to it.
Yep. We have a new winner here at the Litterbox… or loser if you will… with a bottom-of-the-barrel 0 “Meows” out of 5. I’ve seen bad movies but none as just plain boring and worthless as this one. It now holds the record as my lowest rating for any review I’ve written. It’s gonna be a while before I can wash the bad taste of this one out of my brain…. 😉
The DVD? Well… Ummmm… at least it’s cheap, easily found for around 7 $ US, should by some unknown reason you want to subject yourself to it sometime. The Shriek Show/ Media Blasters Region 1, is presented in a scratchy VHS transfer from a fairly dog-earred copy of English dubbed vintage. There is the original French audio track available as well.. and some oter Italian/ Euro trash cannibal movie trailers, but even with that, this one still stinks. Pass on it… you have my warnings…. 😉
Trailer? Wow… you are gluttons for punishment… but here goes. 🙂