Kilma, Queen of the Amazons / Kilma, Reina de las Amazonas (1975) -**
Once again, I was down at my favorite semi-local video store (I’ll drive a long goddamned way in search of top-quality schlock, you know), and I decided to take a chance on a movie I’d simply never, ever heard of. The last time I did that, after all, I discovered the flawed but fascinating The Deathhead Virgin, so it’s not like the Video Vault is as unforgiving of such risk-taking as, say, the Blockbuster down the street from my house. This time, though, the experiment was not nearly as successful, and Kilma, Queen of the Amazons/Kilma, Reina de las Amazonas turned out to be a rather drab and lifeless little film.
There is one respect in which the experience of watching and reviewing this movie mirrors that of doing the same for The Deathhead Virgin, however. Kilma, Queen of the Amazons is so obscure that it proved very difficult to find much information about it. The most tantalizing detail I was able to uncover is the possibility that it’s actually a sequel to a movie called La Diosa Salvaje (“The Savage Goddess”), released earlier the same year, which features the same female lead (Blanca Estrada, from Horror of the Zombies) playing a character named Kilma, and which was retitled Kilma, Queen of the Jungle when it was released on home video in the States. If that’s the case, Kilma, Queen of the Amazons is probably a sequel in name only— the title character might, by a bit of a stretch, qualify as a Savage Goddess, but there are no jungles anywhere to be seen in this movie.
There are pirates, however. No, I can’t say I was expecting that, either. But nevertheless, the first thing we see is a mutiny aboard the frigate HMS Falmouth, as a result of which the ship falls under the command of a would-be buccaneer named One-Eye Jack (Luis Induni, from The House by the Edge of the Lake and Rape). But One-Eye’s career of piracy on the high seas hits a snag before it even starts; his men are all experienced seamen, but none of them can navigate worth a fuck, and he was hoping to press the Falmouth’s real navigator into service in that capacity. Navigator Dan Robinson (Frank Brana, from Medusa Against the Son of Hercules and Love Brides of the Mummy) has other ideas, though, and he sneaks away in a lifeboat while the mutiny is still in progress. His flight away from the Falmouth leads him eventually to the usual uncharted island in the South Pacific, and upon making landfall, he seeks shelter in a convenient cave in the cliffs overlooking the beach.
Evidently, Robinson is not the first European to land here. In the cave, he finds a good-sized cache of weapons, powder, and ammunition, along with the skeleton of a Spanish naval officer and his ship’s log. The log isn’t terribly helpful on the details, but it does establish that something on the island is fierce and deadly. Robinson gets to see just what that fierce and deadly thing is a few moments later, when a boat full of Polynesian warriors lands not far from the cave, and its crew is promptly slaughtered by a horde of horse-riding, spear-wielding women. These, in case you couldn’t guess, are the Amazons of whom Kilma is the queen. Their savagery is due to explicit instructions from a pantheon of spacefaring gods who have left Kilma’s people in possession of some valuable-looking trinket, which must be kept out of the hands of males at any cost. And no, I have no idea what the alien bauble is, what it does, or why human men aren’t supposed to touch it, nor will I even venture a guess as to why a bunch of gods from outer space would conclude that the best way to preserve such an object is to leave it in an underground temple on a distant planet, guarded by what amounts to an order of sexy, heavily armed cave-nuns. All I can tell you is that Kilma and her women are all virgins, and that they maintain their numbers by forcing the inhabitants of nearby islands to provide them with a steady stream of comely female ass-kickers.
In any event, a few days after witnessing the battle between the Amazons and the invaders from the neighboring island, Robinson encounters Kilma directly, more or less at random. Kilma spies him hiding in the trees while she’s taking her horse, Fury, for a spin around the island, and she immediately attacks him. Robinson is saved only by the intervention of a boa constrictor, which helpfully drops onto Kilma’s shoulders from the tree above. Now far be it from Robinson to let a woman fall victim to such a fate, even if that woman does happen to be trying to kill him, and the castaway risks his own neck to save hers. Gratitude is not the Queen of the Amazons’ strong suit, however, and she goes right back on the attack once the snake has been taken care of, at least until Fury, who will not tolerate that sort of thing, breaks up the fight once more. Yeah, you read that right. Kilma’s goddamned horse steps in to teach his rider some manners. Robinson, of course, takes the opportunity to give Kilma her first kiss before escaping.
You’ve seen at least one dimension of the coming conflict at least a hundred times before. Kilma finds herself inexplicably attracted to the stranger on her island, and her rival among the Amazons (Claudia Gravy, from Deadly Sanctuary and The Nuns of Saint Archangel) tries to use this as an excuse to usurp her. But fortunately, this proves not to be the movie’s main event. Instead, the real plot begins when One-Eye Jack— who, let us remember, has no navigator among his crew— accidentally blunders his way onto Kilma’s island. The Amazons might be pretty hot shit when going up against another bunch of Polynesian stone-agers, but Robinson rightly believes it will be a different story when they try to take on a shipload of European pirates. And because he and Kilma have something of a thing going between them by the time One-Eye shows up, Robinson wants to do everything in his power to protect her and her people from his former crewmates. At first, he tries to keep the Falmouth’s crew from discovering the Amazons, but that plan falls apart when one of the sailors finds a piece of gold jewelry which one of the girls dropped on the bank of the island’s largest stream. Well, if there’s one thing all pirates love, it’s gold— and if there are two things all pirates love, they’re gold and island women— so we all know where this is going. It’s just a good thing for Kilma’s people that Robinson found that cave with the dead Spaniard in it; that arsenal in there with him may not have been used in a while, but old muskets, powder, and cannons are muskets, powder and cannons nevertheless.
I came to Kilma, Queen of the Amazons looking for something like an 80’s barbarian movie. Needless to say, that was not what I got. It could thus be that my unmet expectations prevented me from enjoying this movie more than sporadically, but I really think there’s more to it than that. Even without making unwarranted comparisons to movies like Deathstalker or The Warrior and the Sorceress, Kilma, Queen of the Amazons is just kind of boring. There’s relatively little action until the climactic series of battles between the pirates and the Amazons, and what action there is suffers from terrible choreography and unimaginative cinematography. Even the inevitable catfight between Kilma and her Amazon nemesis offers more in the way of yawns than thrills. There’s something to be said, I suppose, for the unexpected juxtaposition of female warriors in furry bikinis with stereotypical movie pirates, but that in and of itself can carry the film only so far.