Director: Jess Franco
Shriek Show/Media Blasters

Eurocine, the #1 company for producing cheap lurid trash for European consumption, has been going crazy in the DVD world, especially in Region 1 land. Titles like EXORCISM, ZOMBIE LAKE, OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES, A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD, NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT, DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER, ORLOFF AGAINST THE INVISIBLE MAN, the list goes on. Mixed among the real gems like VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD were really boring pieces of trash like OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES and REVENGE IN THE HOUSE OF USHER. But there have been no titles as bad, as boring and as undeserving of the digital format as these two: GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS and DIAMONDS OF KILIMANDJARO. Ugh, these had to have been licensed only because they have no other interesting titles languishing in their vaults. Tis a shame that they were never able to uncover a print of SEX CHARADE, the lost Jess Franco film, because these two abominations represent the prolific director at his worst and do the company's reputation no favors, either.

Chronologically, DIAMONDS OF KILIMANDJARO comes first (1983). It's basically the famous story of Tarzan by way of LIANE THE JUNGLE GODDESS all over again; hell, the girl even has a similar name! A group of white explorers have to crashland their plane in the jungles of Africa and are saved from a cannibal tribe (with a wild-haired topless female leader!) by Diana, a white jungle girl who swings to their rescue. They return to civilization and report the girl as the long-lost daughter of a rich old woman whose inheritance will go to the young lass if she is returned. However, Diana is the target of several greedy relatives who tag along with the expedition to capture her so they can make sure she doesn't live to return to her mother! There's a subplot about a stash of diamonds hidden in the jungle which comes out of nowhere and is pretty ridiculous, too.

DIAMONDS may hold some interest because it features Lina Romay in hideous make-up and grey streaks in her hair to play an elderly woman dying. The film's locations in Spain are the same locations Franco used for WHITE CANNIBAL QUEEN (now there's a fun little piece of garbage I'd like to see on R1 DVD!), OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES, and countless other early 80s productions. Katja Bienert is a German beauty who prances nude throughout the film and worked several times with Franco, as recently as 2002 when she appeared in KILLER BARBYS VS. DRACULA! Frequent Franco hero/villain Robert Foster (real name: Antonio Mayans) is the leader of the expedition and also finds time to bed the hot-to-trot female explorer who also bathes nude. You should also recognize composer Olivier Mathot (who did second unit work on this flick) as Lina Romay's brother; his most familiar role was probably as the first victim of BLUE RITA. But where LIANE THE JUNGLE GODDESS was a lot of cheap exploitation fun, this film has such sluggish pacing that it's nowhere near as entertaining. It earns points for gratuitous stock footage, the aforementioned Lina Romay cameo, Katja Bienert spending the entire film topless, some splashes of gore (most off-screen), and a stupid surprise ending. But with all these points attributed to the film, it still receives a failing grade for the sheer boredom inflicted on the viewer. And contrary to the box cover, it's not 91 minutes, it's a little over 95, making this a really loooooong sleeping pill in celluloid form.

Any film with a slow-motion opening shot of topless girls riding horses with spears should be an exploitation masterpiece, right? Eh...not exactly. Remember, this is Eurocine, so the production values are low and the pace wouldn't beat the hare in a race. So welcome to GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS, enjoy your stay in Hell. A tribe of flat-as-pancake Amazon women ride through the jungle on horses and wearing skimpy little gold outfits before reaching a house where they shoot a man and a woman with arrows. After the credits roll, we get...yes...ANOTHER LIANE rip-off! This time, the jungle girl IS named Liane who is adopted by a friend of her late parents, who were killed by the Amazon gals in the opening scene. He reads her a journal where she learns her daddy was killed after stealing a hidden treasure from the lusty ladies (judging by the flashback, her folks were real assholes!). Liana sets out to avenge her parents, but is captured by a native tribe along the way. She fights a fat white guy in a leopard-skin tunic who looks like Tor Johnson and is aided by her helpful chimpanzee friend Rocky (!), swings through the trees topless, and finally runs into another white expedition led by Robert Foster (again!) to aid her on her mission.

By 1986, when this film was shot, Eurocine and European exploitation in general had pretty much rolled over and died. With very few exceptions, imported product was making way for homegrown straight-to-video garbage which was cheaper to produce. Many films of GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS' craptastic quality made their debuts on home video, but soon faded to oblivion on dusty mom-and-pop shelves. That is where this one should have stayed, unfortunately. It has its moments, mainly because of the ridiculous English dubbing and some imaginative photography, and its so-bad-it's-good factor is much higher than DIAMONDS OF KILIMANDJARO. Olivier Mathot returns as Liana's guardian, and the same locations from DIAMONDS are used here, too. A black guy plays a native with terrible grey hair coloring to show that he's an aged version of an earlier native in a flashback. And his dubbed English dialogue is laughably racist!! The actresses playing the Amazon women look appropriately embarrassed and often smirk or crack smiles when not trying to deliver their dialogue. See if you can spot Rollin's LIVING DEAD GIRL Francoise Blanchard as one of the vicious vixens! Poor William Berger is unfortunately way past his prime and obviously slumming here in a barely-clothed role as the leader of the Amazon women. I know, it makes no sense. The only other recognizable cast members are Robert Foster and, surprisingly, Emilio Linder from the MST3K favorite POD PEOPLE as the smarmy explorer whose wife is attacked by a hippo while skinny-dipping! Contrary to popular belief, Jess Franco apparently did not direct this one. It's pretty much the work of Alain Payet, with Franco reportedly doing some second-unit work or possibly supplying additional footage from an earlier film as padding. So GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS isn't even a true-blue Franco film, making it even less desirable a purchase than it would be already. It's too bad the credits on the cover don't match the film presented on the disc; if Alice Arno, Lina Romay, and Pamela Stanford were in this, it would probably be more entertaining. Shriek Show should have tried licensing that 1973 film (which apparently is very hard to come by) instead of this 80s schlock.

Both films look quite good; Eurocine has been pretty renowned for preserving their films well, including variant versions with more or less violence and nudity, and both DIAMONDS and AMAZONS look quite beautiful. The transfers are both 1.66:1 and look accurately framed. The English audio is acceptable, but a little weak during the dubbed dialogue.

Both discs feature English-language interviews with Eurocine president Daniel Lesoeur about the featured films. On DIAMONDS, the featurette opens with a nice overview of European TARZAN cash-ins before discussing Franco's 1983 version. Lesoeur says DIAMONDS came before AMAZONS, but that is probably not the case. He shares some good memories of Katja Bienert (apparently she is screenwriting now) and Daniel White, the inspirations for the film, but not too many revelatory comments can be found here. On AMAZONS, we are shown the offices of Eurocine Films in the Champs Elysees in Paris as an opener, which is a nice touch. He discusses the shooting locations which were so popular in other Eurocine films, who was the true director of the film (or should I say directors?), collaborations between French and Spanish exploiteers, working with Francoise Blanchard and casting other girls who would do nudity and could ride horses, the rotund actor Stanley Kapoul, dealing with live animals, and other topics concerning the lower-than-low budget film. They even show clips from the obscure Eurocine flick MANIAC KILLER with "Rifleman" Chuck Connors and directed by Andrea Bianchi of BURIAL GROUND fame!!

An alternate scene sourced from VHS is provided for GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS, which basically consists of more stock footage and Liana swinging through the trees; it's nice to see it here for completist's sake. Also included on both discs are the film's respective trailers, large photo galleries and trailers for other Shriek Show releases (FACELESS, MAN FROM DEEP RIVER, MASSACRE IN DINOSAUR VALLEY), which are all recommended over these two wastes of time. (Casey Scott)