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Brant von Hoffman
Some animal scenes in the jungle (such as a charging rhinoceros or a crocodile being killed) are inserts that are not in CinemaScope format. They are stock footage probably taken from an old documentary (such as Mondo cane (1962)). See more »
Although she has been living in a primitive isolated village since childhood, the adult Diana wears store-bought sandals. See more »
I have never had such a mixed reaction to a movie that I had with Diamonds of Kilimandjaro. In all fairness, there isn't any movie buff in the world who can make an argument for why this is a good movie. There is no cinematic merit whatsoever, the editing, cinematography, and directing are all poor, and the acting and dialogue are frustrating. Some parts are so slow and drawn out that it's obvious Franco was trying to lengthen scenes to make a 90 minute movie (this could have been done in less than 80). Up against that is the doctrine that as long as there's action, the worse a movie is, the better it gets. Diamonds of Kilimandjaro treads this line closer than any other movie I've seen. It's a sex, schlock, and sleaze filled movie (the three s's to bad movies), intermixed with action, fighting, and cannibal mayhem (though there is no cannibalism; hell, they never even say if it's a cannibal tribe). I tried my hardest to hate such an obviously terrible movie, but I just couldn't. It's another wonder that everything is so insanely bad that it can make it an entertaining movie experience.
A plane crashes in the African plains (I guess near Kilimanjaro, but it's never expressly stated). The pilot is killed, and the two survivors, an old man and his young relative, Diana, are incorporated into a nearby primitive tribe, who zealously guard a fortune of gems. Years later, treasure hunters Fred and Payton are searching for the legendary treasure when the tribe captures them. Just when they're about to be killed, they're saved by Diana, who is now 18 (played by the 16 year-old and insanely beautiful Katja Bienert) and is the tribe's white goddess. They do leave, but they also tell Diana's mother that they saw her lost daughter. With a group almost as strange as the group in Massacre in Dinosaur Valley, they head out to bring Diana back, and as an extra bonus, find the treasure for themselves. The "cannibals" don't like this intrusion, especially when they had just let them go. Led by a cannibal priestess (played by Aline Mess), a group of warriors systematically hunt down members of the group. Fred does find the tribe, however, when Diana rescues him (and then subsequently has sex with him). She takes him to the village and to her aging godfather. Godfather "Big White Chief" (as he's referred to) tells Fred that they must leave, but Fred doesn't want to go without Diana (or the treasure, one or the other). He sticks around too long, as the group of cannibal assassins begin to catch up with him.
Again, after watching this, I really didn't know what to say or think. I watched the first ten minutes on a separate occasion and thought that it was so ridiculously bad that it wasn't worth my time, but my loyalty to this wacky genre forced me to finish it out. There are some parts that I was so bored I considered turning it off to watch it for another day, but the next minute there was sex and B-movie action covering the screen, and I was helpless but to love it. It's the type of action that a chuckle turns into a laugh as it progressively gets worse and worse. Included are random gun fights, decapitations, and people with their throats slit who had the most hilarious expressions on their dead faces. Scenes of Diana swinging from jungle vines with a Tarzan-like howl nearly had me on the floor laughing (the very sloppy editing of when she lands was equally funny). Also a note of interest (which may be the most entertaining of all) is the Franco standard of nearly pornographic sex that crops up with the lamest excuses to include it (like Mari Nieto just "deciding" to go skinny dipping in a crocodile infested lake). Though Mari Nieto is very beautiful, the main eye candy here is Katja Bienert, who at age 16 made me fall in love based on looks alone. Franco definitely exploited her young body, as she's almost completely buck naked throughout, with that hemp loincloth getting lower and lower every scene.
Yes, this movie is almost perfect as bad entertaining movies go, but there are too many qualms that prevent it from being raised high above the rest. As a result, even those who love trash cinema such as myself may not enjoy it nearly as much as I did (as I've said before, I'm just a sucker for exploitation). The other Franco standard of people haplessly walking through the jungle is included here as well, and these scenes are so slow it's mind-bending as you wait for the "good" stuff to reappear. Also in this array is some stock documentary footage that's very grainy and obviously different from the rest of the movie. Some of the sets look genuine, but others look like they rented out the local arboretum instead of using the real jungle. It's a very bland movie (even some of the funny action is watered down) and is terrible as far as good cannibal films go (though it's not quite a cannibal movie). Very limited gore is present, so don't expect a bloodbath when you go to watch it. Those who have seen Tarantini's Massacre in Dinosaur Valley will probably find this unappealing, as this is no where near the league of bad that Massacre is in. Check it out if your expectations are low and your taste in movies is even lower.
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