• The Diamonds of Kilimandjaro (MVD Classics) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: MVD Classics
    Released on: September 11th, 2018.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Katja Bienert, Aline Mess, Antonio Mayans, Daniel Katz, Lina Romay, Olivier Mathot
    Year: 1983
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    The Diamonds of Kilimandjaro – Movie Review:

    Another mish mash of jungle footage that somehow mutated into a Jess Franco film, Diamonds of Kilimandjaro (or Diamonds For Kilamandjaro as the title card on this Blu-ray reads) is, like Golden Temple Amazons, made up of footage shot by Franco and by other Eurocine employees. This material was then edited into a semi-coherent though thoroughly horrible film intended to cash in on the Italian cannibal film craze of the time.

    The film begins with a rather unconvincing plane crash deep in the heart of the jungle. A young girl named Diana (lovely German sexpot Katja Bienert, who pops up in Schoolgirl Report #13: Don’t Forget Love During Sex) and her stepdad (Franco stock player Daniel White) survive the crash and soon she's raised around a tribe of natives who see her as their 'white goddess.' Diana and her pa play up on this, figuring that they could be a lot worse off, and all things considered they’re right.

    Cut back to civilization where Diana's mother Hermine (played by Franco muse Lina Romay who is sporting some unbelievably bad make up in this film) is on her death bed. Before she kicks off into the great beyond, she wants to ensure her daughter is okay. To do this, she hires a pair of tough guys to head on into the thick of the jungle to bring her back alive and kicking. Diana's Uncle Mathieu (Oliver Mathot) and his pretty wife (Ana Stern) are going to accompany them because, as Mathieu puts it, he is her uncle after all. What Hermine doesn't know is that he and his wife secretly plan to off Diana in the jungle to make sure that she doesn't make it back alive so that they can be the inheritors of her vast riches.

    The four of them team up with their jungle guide (Albino Graziani) and head off on their mission… but once they arrive they find that they have to face off against some dangerous natives and the hazards of the cruel and careless jungle itself!

    While not a horrible, if slightly unoriginal, premise for a jungle adventure films, Diamonds Of Kilimandjaro just doesn't have what it takes to work. While some of the footage does a great job of capturing the mood and atmosphere of the savage locale where our story is set, other scenes are sloppily put together and carelessly shot. This gives the film a very, very uneven feel that definitely does not work in its favor. While some of the shots of the female lead running around in her birthday suit are mildly erotic, again, we've got a lot of sloppy nudity and poorly shot sex scenes to come along and ruin that fun as well. It doesn’t appear that Franco’s heart was in this one, there’s very little passion or creativity on display here.

    Also worth pondering is the very title of the film. It doesn't take place in Kilimandjaro and it doesn't have anything to do with diamonds. All the movie really has going for it is the plentiful nudity of the cute Katja Bienert and a couple of unintentionally funny moments. It doesn't have enough good sex in it to work that way, the action isn't interesting or exciting, and the suspense is non-existent. The lack of budget shows in the sets and the props used throughout the film. The native village is just sad and that opening plane crash is painful to watch and not because of the horror that the characters are going through but because it's so poorly done.

    Franco made some genuinely great films, and a whole lot of genuinely interesting films – unfortunately The Diamonds of Kilimandjaro is neither. I was hoping a revisit would change my opinion of the film, but that hasn’t happened. It can be entertaining in its own goofy way if you’re able to just turn off your brain and accept this nonsense at face value, but the personality and artistic intentions that make the director’s output so compelling for those of us who appreciate his style is pretty much completely absent from this picture.

    Now, having said that, completists (and I fall into that camp) will be grateful to have even more of the man’s work available in high-definition, and this Blu-ray release does manage to scratch that itch.

    The Diamonds of Kilimandjaro – Blu-ray Review:

    The Diamonds of Kilimandjaro comes to Blu-ray from the MVD Marquee Collection in a 1.85.1 widescreen transfer in AVC encoded 1080p high that the label has been upfront about admitting that some of their titles are taken from older, existing masters. The film is presented on a 25GB disc with the feature taking up over 23Gbs of space. If the picture quality here isn’t perfection, it’s decent enough and a nice upgrade in detail, depth and texture over the Media Blasters DVD release that came out years back. Some shots do look a bit soft and occasionally it looks like some light DNR might have been applied but it’s not really all that noticing except in a few shots.

    The only audio option for the film is an English language LPCM 2.0 Mono track that is less than ideal. Some noticeable buzz is present in the opening minutes of the movie and there are one or two spots where dialogue seems to have vanished form the mix and a line is repeated? Odd. Aside from that, it's okay once we get through the first few minutes. Things do sound cleaner after that and dialogue is generally easy to understand, though mild hiss isn't hard to notice for long stretches of the film.There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided here.

    The disc includes menus and chapter selection as well as a trailer for the feature and bonus trailers for Golden Temple Amazons, Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes and The Violence Movie. None of the extras from the 2005 DVD release that came out via Media Blasters have been ported over to this Blu-ray release. We do get a slipcover though, if you’re into that.

    The Diamonds of Kilimandjaro – The Final Word:

    Diamonds Of Kilimandjaro isn't going to appeal to any but the hardest of Franco fans, and even then, you're pushing it. That said, Franco cultists will want it even if it isn’t even close to his best work. Although it’s light on extras, MVD’s Blu-ray release does present the film in nice shape (albeit with imperfect audio), which might make it hard for completists to resist.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Diamonds of Kilimandjaro Blu-ray review screen captures!