Various nauseatingly bad actors travel to Africa to find a teenager called Diana (Katja Bienert) who was lost years ago in the jungle and grew up in a cannibal tribe. The Tarzan-like girl constantly shows off her boobs. She runs around, climbs trees, eats fruit and hangs out with other buck naked chicks all day long, often while looking rather bored. And she’s worshiped as a goddess by the naked natives – despite her laughable Tarzan scream. Anyway, the bad actors plan to kill her (!) to get their filthy hands on the inheritance of her sick mother (Lina Romay). The poster makes this Jess Franco-movie look like an Italian cannibal film – and Diamonds of Kilimandjaro is often mentioned in the same vein as Cannibal Ferox and Holocaust. However, there are no gooey bits of flesh here.
And wassup with the title? The strangest thing about this wacky no-budget Tarzan remake with boobies is that it doesn’t actually contain any diamonds. And Mount Kilimanjaro is nowhere to be seen. I guess the film takes place near Kilimanjaro, but it’s never stated. There’s not much plot here, but Franco had to fill the film with something… didn’t he? With action, sex or a wild jungle chase sequence perhaps? No, no, no, wait a minute. Not so fast. That would be entertaining, and we can’t be having that now can we?!! No, Franco just aims his camera at bouncy jugs and Bienert… sitting in a tree… um, and stuff. Yup, this is another BAD jungle movie (Thank you, Captain Obvious). But it’s OK in my book. Really. Bienert makes quite an impression, and there’s enough sleaze, Franco-weirdness and grainy stock footage of animals from old documentaries to make the film worthwhile.
“I think it’s life; cinema is life… We are conditioned by cinema. The world of these images has become more and more important to us, because people need to see something different from their normal lives in order to keep living. The cinema is not the way to escape our lives; it is the way to complete our lives.”
– Jess Franco (12 May, 1930 – 2 April, 2013)
Jesus Franco, Uncle Jess among friends, was a true original – and it’s a shame no one seems to be aware of his passing a couple of months ago. Although he worked in literally every genre and made 200 films (!) there was nothing about him in the media or anything. Sure, his movies are definitely an acquired taste, and he’s best known for his work in low-budget horror and trashy exploitation films like this bad boy. But I hope one day Jess Franco will have the recognition he deserves. He made some really cool and unique films like Venus in Furs, Vampyros Lesbos and Succubus – and even his bad movies, like this tragically awful one, are worth checking out. Especially if you like the sight of hot women with nice, bouncy jugs. But seriously, Diamonds of Kilimandjaro is a must see if you’re a collector of weird and trashy films. It has all the right junky ingredients, it’s strangely watchable and the badass DVD cover would definitely be a great addition to your collection.
Release year: 1983
Director: Jess Franco