Diamonds of Kilimandjaro (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: David Steigman
  • Review Date: Oct 02, 2018
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Diamonds of Kilimandjaro (Blu-ray Review)


Jess Franco

Release Date(s)

1983 (September 11, 2018)


Elite Films (MVD Classics)
  • Film/Program Grade: C-
  • Video Grade: C
  • Audio Grade: B
  • Extras Grade: D


In this Spanish/French co-production, El tesoro de la diosa blanca (known domestically as Diamonds of Kilimandjaro) is an exploitation adventure drama about a small group of mercenaries led by Fred (Antonio Mayans) who go to Africa to locate diamonds and girl named Liana (Katja Bienert) who went missing after a plane crash. Even though she has been following them around and spying on them, Liana is discovered by her family and the other explorers. They soon learn that she was been raised by a primitive tribe called the Mabuto, and that after living with them happily for most of her life, she has no desire to leave.

Diamonds of Kilimandjaro is completely outlandish and goofy. Yet another schlocky movie from Jess Franco, it attempts to be exploitative and serious at the same time. Several scenes simply make no sense, leaving you with the “why exactly did that happen?” feeling. There’s also plenty of padding, including stock footage of animals, tribal dancing, and sex scenes. And as with the majority of Jess Franco films, there’s a gratuitous amount of nudity, particularly Katja Bienert, who was reportedly underage at the time of filming. Fans of Lina Romay, who was at the height of her career, may be turned off by her role in the film, playing Liana’s sick, bed-ridden mother who coughs more than she speaks. The plot about finding diamonds also appears to have been lost along the way. Meanwhile, the English-dubbed dialogue is atrocious, which probably isn’t all that significant to Franco aficionados.

MVD Classics presents Diamonds of Kilimandjaro on Blu-ray in its original 83-minute version. The 95-minute version deleted several of the film’s scenes and incorporated footage that was later shot by Olivier Mathot (which hasn’t been included here). The presentation is all over the place when it comes to the image quality. After the opening airplane crash scene, which looks blurry and murky, it briefly improves, but then ranges from below average to excellent thereafter. The most attractive parts of the presentation are highly detailed with great depth and strong color, with greens looking the most robust. With the high contrast, many outdoor shots look a little too bright. Skin tones look accurate and detailed, showing perspiration on faces (and other details). The stock footage is grainy and a few of the other scenes along the way look a small step above VHS quality. In the audio department, an English 2.0 LCPM track is included and it’s more than adequate with the dialogue coming in clear. It also comes in stronger during the musical tracks and action scenes. The dubbing is out of sync in a few spots, mainly early on, but that’s to be expected. The only extras included are trailers for the film itself, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and The Violence Movie.

Diamonds of Kilimandjaro is a pretty shoddy picture, but despite all of its drawbacks, the film is still recommended to fans of Jess Franco. They will likely get more out of it than anyone else.

- David Steigman