I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

In the Shadow of Kilimanjaro

tn_kilimanjaroYou know John-Rhys Davies? I believe he’s the dwarf in the Lords of the Rings, but he’s best remembered as Sallah, loyal friend in the Indiana Jones pictures and passionate explainer of seatbelts in the Indiana Jones Disneyland ride. IN THE SHADOW OF KILIMANJARO is the story of Sallah’s further adventures as a mine operator in Kenya. The credits don’t call him Sallah, they call him “Chris Tucker.” But you tell me which is more likely: John Rhys-Davies is playing Sallah again, or John Rhys-Davies is playing Chris Tucker? I rest my case.

mp_kilimanjaroThe hero of the movie is Timothy Bottoms, who had some success in a sitcom and a TV movie playing George W. Bush, and in this movie is playing a conservationist out in the bush. He goes around nursing rhinocerouses and has a zebra and a cheetah on his property and carries monkeys around and has a girlfriend that I thought was Erin Gray but turns out her name is Irene Miracle. And back in ’84, the way I remember it, it was kind of a miracle to have two ladies that looked like Erin Gray. It was a more naive time.

Jack gets called in to help some tribesmen find a lost kid, but all they find is an arm. So he figures out what we’ve known since the first scene: the baboons around this joint are on a fuckin rampage. There’s a bad drought that’s been starving the animals but most of them move on looking for sustenance. Baboons are more territorial, so they stick around and sometimes will even eat each other. This time they’re getting clever and eating humans. They are intelligent, they are organized, and they don’t vote. They just eat.

Jack tries to convince union man Chris Tucker to close his mine and get his crew to safety, but his contract on the mine is expiring soon and he refuses to lose any time. So Jack goes to the government, but they won’t evacuate the place because the drought is country-wide. There’s nowhere to evacuate anybody to. Everybody’s fucked until it rains.

So then it becomes a survival tale with a bunch of baboon attacks. There are some goofy puppet shots every once in a while, but it’s mostly real baboons. They have them swarming from the hills (almost looks like CGI at times, weirdly), stampeding towards people, climbing all over the place. They don’t always look hungry and vicious, but I don’t know man. Baboons creep me out. They look intelligent but not empathetic. They look like they don’t give a fuck. You look a baboon in the eyes, he’s not gonna nod his head like “what’s up?” He’s gonna have nothing but contempt for you. There’s no making friends with a baboon, unless you’re Dr. Benway. (literary reference – yes, I’ve read books before)

The part that impressed me most is the long slo-mo shot of Irene Miracle falling down and getting back up with a herd of baboons right on her tail. I’m sure they were well trained but you still would probly get hurt if that many ran into you. I’m telling you. Baboons don’t give a fuck about you and they don’t give a fuck about stunt safety. That was a daring scene to shoot, in my opinion.

The baboons do eat some humans. They’re good at trapping people – a guy in a car, a guy on a telephone pole, some people in a small plane. That’s fucked up, man. So dedicated to the baboon cause that they’re willing to blow themselves up in a place crash. Add this to the questionable list of things that predicted 9-11.

I gotta tell you though, the part that scared me most wasn’t an attack at all, it was the part with the rhino at the beginning. There’s this chase like the beginning of JURASSIC PARK 2 and then they catch up with this rhino. I don’t spend too much of my day thinking about rhinos so when I look at footage of one of those things suddenly it occurs to me jesus, it basically is a dinosaur, how did they get Timothy Bottoms to walk right up to it and pretend to put medicine in its eye? The guy’s got balls. I bet they did that shot last just in case.

The whole thing is filmed on location in Kenya, so it has a sense of authenticity with the locations, the locals and the animals. But to be honest it’s a sloppily put together movie. I might’ve missed something, but it seemed like there was some weird continuity. I didn’t catch when Jack shaved his bushy beard off half way through, that was weird. And what was up with the part where Chris Tucker tells Jack’s girl that Jack is dead, then later runs into him and doesn’t seem surprised that he’s alive? And there’s lots of awkward transitions where somebody’s being attacked and then, oh, they’re safe now, fade out and they’re in a totally different place and everything seems fine. There’s not alot of build, just a series of little episodes. I guess it doesn’t help that there’s no goal, they’re not trying to get to some place or do some thing. They’re just trying to not die for a while. Then (SPOILER) it rains, so everything’s better. I’d think they’d have to wait for some plants to grow, but they seem to think it’s instant safety.

The director, Raju Patel, never directed another movie. But he did produce BACHELOR PARTY, CYBORG 2 and the Stephen Sommers version of THE JUNGLE BOOK. Apparently he started a “Neverland Pictures” with Michael Jackson, but they never made any movies. He died in 2005.

In conclusion, this movie is only okay, and should obviously be called KILL-IMANJARO.
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VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010 at 3:40 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

47 Responses to “In the Shadow of Kilimanjaro”

  1. caruso_stalker217

    October 21st, 2010 at 4:05 am

    No shit, baboons will fuck you up. I think it’s the puffy red asses. They don’t have creams for that shit like we do. I can see how that could potentially make you want to eat somebody.

  2. Okay: I’ve never seen this movie, BUT I remember reading somewhere that it inspired a scene in THE SIMPSONS where Ned Flanders fights monkeys on top of an out of control tram train at the zoo.

    Also, it’s crying out to be remade, if you ask me. Hordes of killer baboons…It just don’t get no better’n that.

  3. Sallah is also Aladdin’s dad.

  4. I never heard of this one but may have to check it out. Sounds like what Congo should have been. (Even though Congo has its campy charms – i.e. Delroy Lindo’s cameo and the awesome accents by Tim Curry and Ernie Hudson). BTW, any truth to the rumors that Brian De Palma was supposed to make Congo back in the 80s with Sean Connery? Shit, it’s not too late – I demand a Congo Reboot.

  5. Don’t know if it was that killer baboon movie, but I think I saw a clip of it when I was young and it scared the shit out of me.
    Just a few years ago I saw a DTV Killer Baboon movie with Ron Perlman, but it was painful to watch, because they decided to make it look less DTV, by predating Tony Scott’s visual style from the last decade.

  6. Went to a drive through safari park many years ago and my friends Dad’s car got its windscreen wipers and aeriel torn off by baboons. Then the cheeky fuckers started whipping his car and jumped up and down on the roof. It was all very funny untill one of them looked me dead in the eye and started punching the windsreen. I still don’t know to this day what I did to piss that nasty bastard off, but he wanted to get through that screen and fuck me up.

  7. Baboons are my least favorite kind of monkeys. They don’t have the same intelligence in their eyes as chimps and orangutans. They look just smart enough to be mean. Of all the animals I would not want to get bitten in the face by, baboons are probably in the top ten.

  8. Ace: Baboons play by prison rules. Eye contact of any kind means you have to get shivved if the baboon wants to keep his rep.

  9. Yay! A Billy Burroughs reference! Just for that, I’ll plunk down the change for your other book regarding Steven Segal. Unless there’s a new special edition coming out, with the Lawman episodes….Don’t go all George Lucas on me vern….

  10. Orangutans are supposedly pretty cool but watch out for chimps, too. Don’t be fooled by Lancelot Link and Cheeta. They’re nasty little sumbitches.

  11. Mr Majestyk> That nasty little fucker wouldn’t have needed a knife. If that screen had of gone through, I’d have been fucked. It was one of those moments where I went from outragious laughter to stone cold fear in less than a second.

  12. So I guess Baboons are the Swans among the Monkeys?

  13. John-Rhys Davies also played Sallah in the Chuck Norris – Louis Gossett Jr. movie , Firewalker ( 1986 , in Italy “Il tempio di Fuoco ” = Temple of Fire ). Again he’s not called Sallah , but he’s the friend/old acquaintance our heroes find in an exotic location , in this case the jungle . The character name is Corky Taylor , but … come on.. It’s almost a glorified cameo , as if the director is literally telling you “If you want to do an Indiana Jones rip-off
    , you’ve got to cast JRD”!

  14. By God CJ you are right. Just think of the lengths a baboon and a swan would go to to get a backpack off an innocent human.

  15. It always amazed me how John Rhys Davis made such a great job of playing a dwarve, considering he is 6’2. Great casting.

  16. Now that I think about it , Firewalker is kind of a strange , weird experiment for Norris. It’s a pretty fucking silly movie , but I find it entertaining. It’s a Cannon/Golan-Globus production with a pretty good bar brawl in the first half and standard Indiana Jones adventuring in the second , but Norris is not his usual brooding hero. He’s funny and he even goes undercover dressed as a priest , like good old Lance Henriksen in Stone Cold. the most shocking thing is that it works , and he even has on screen chemistry with Louis Gossett Jr. Plus there’s Sonny Landham in a silly costume .
    As I said , weird movie.

  17. Firewalker could be Norris’ best performance. Norris almost had a personality. Almost. Awful.

  18. What does Norris need a personality for? You can’t use a personality to kick someone in the face.

  19. I think Firewalker is the only Chuck Norris movie I’ve ever seen. Yes, that was around 20 years ago, but I enjoyed it as a kid.

  20. Unreal. I used to see this VHS for sale in like Bradlees when I was a kid, and assumed it must be the most badass movie ever. Never did see the thing. Sounds like it falls somewhere between Shakma and Monkey Shines on the killer-monkey-movie scale, but it’s still strange to see it pop back into my life again.

    This is why I read Vern’s site more than Roger Ebert’s.

  21. Also, as somebody who has actually run into baboons in the wild (don’t ask), let me assure you that 1) they are huge, like WAY bigger than you think, 2) they are mean and scary as fuck, and 3) they really do not want you around them. Imagining a bunch of them chomping up some villagers is not much of a stretch.

  22. Ace Mac : Yes , that’s the shocking surprise . Chuck Norris almost had a personality in that one , he wasn’t playing a variation of “Chuck Norris” like in every other movie , there was actually a character in Firewalker . A small , little character cloned from better movies . Even more incredible , it looked like he was having fun.

  23. Baboons are indeed not to be messed with. They’re strong, they’re aggressive, they’re territorial, and they have fangs and a bite on par with wolves and big cats. And they normally travel in groups, which makes them worse. Even if they aren’t trying to actively maul you, there’s multiple recorded instances of them throwing dung and even rocks at passing vehicles.

    It should also be noted that even lions and leopards tend to avoid taking adult baboons as prey unless they’re desperate, as even though the cat will win the fight, it can take some nasty wounds in the process.

  24. I like how this thread goes from baboons to Chuck Norris in the blink of an eye. Chuck’s best movie is Lone Wolf McQuade, by the way. He actually has a pesonality in that one too, albeit of the John Milius kind. And he gets to make love to Barbara Carrera.

  25. I bet the Predator would not take on a gang of baboons.

  26. I miss Bradlees. Great, obscure VHS titles in the video section. I almost bought KISS VERSUS THE PHANTOM OF CENTRAL PARK at the one in Nashua once, but at the last moment put it back.

  27. Just been talking to a guy who has been out in Kenya. He said that the hotel he stayed in was under constant invasion from baboons. One morning in the restaurant a furry hand came in through the window and stole his toast! Later that evening he said a handfull of his wifes pasta was snatched from the table!

  28. Firewalker is awesome. The movie is an obvious low budget Golan Globus film but, like most Golan Globus films, theres a certain charm to the whole thing. Norris is having a blast and it shows in his performance. I really like the chemistry between him and Gossett Jr. The scene where Gossett Jr. explains why he lets Norris drag him around on all of these adventures is a great scene. It’s like he knows, between him and Norris, he’s the sidekick and accepts that fact. He needs Norris to create adventure in his life. Love this flick.

  29. Firewalker is very weak tea in my opinion but then again as related in the last time we chewed over Chuck’s career, there are only a half dozen of his films that have any real entertainment value for me.

    As far as this film goes, I remember really getting worked up to see this and being very disappointed. It was a terrible mess that was unable to keep any suspense building for even one scene. A total mess. Of course the main reason I had wanted to see this film was because of a really fucked up comic I had read when i was just like 9 or 10 years old. I had a couple of step-uncles who were teenagers at the time and were always stealing comics from the little drugstore near them. Mostly Creepy & Eerie, but also some of the more low rent versions of the B & W horror comics. One of those comics published by Eerie Publications contained a story “Man-Beast” (it was actually printed three times in their various publications). A man is lost in the jungle and is taken care of by a large baboon. He is eventually rescued but on his wedding night the baboon breaks in, kills his bride and takes him back to her cave. Even as a kid I some what understood the implied bestiality and was a bit shaken.

  30. Baboons are very, very dangerous creatures. And they show off their asses all the time. Dangerous and rude.

  31. I will give Chuck his dues. He is pretty damn good along side Louis Gosset Jnr in Firewalker. Just watched some bits on youtube. Gonna track it down and rewatch it. My problem with Chuck is he looks shit doing martial arts. But cracking wise and chewing on a cigar, I’m sold.

  32. Ace Mac : As long as you don’t expect Indiana Jones , the movie is entertaining. The last time I’ve seen it , it was after watching the IJ trilogy ( at the time ). I was in an “adventure” mood , so I watched those and “Romancing the Stone” ( damn , what’s wrong with the English title ? In Italy that movie is called “Searching for the Green Stone” , I don’t get the original title . Is Michael Douglas in love with the stone ?). Then , I remembered this Norris experiment , and I was surprised . Yeah , I like Chuck goofing around and grinning with that cigar , but I don’t think he actually lights it up in the movie ( I don’t remember right now).

  33. Kermit: It comes from Danny De Vito’s line of dialog in which he accuses Michael Douglas of trying to “romance the stone” away from Kathleen Turner, meaning seduce her so that she gives it to him instead of having to steal it outright.

  34. Majestyk : Thanks , that makes sense. I’ve never seen the movie with an English dub , so the meaning of the original title was lost to me . Still , that’s the best title they came up with ? It’s pretty bad , and if you don’t know that single line from De Vito , the title kinda sounds like a love story between Douglas and the jewel . In the movie ending , he even puts the stone in his pants !

  35. I’ve always been a sucker for cheesy baboon movies, so I enjoy this one. My personal favorite bad baboon movie, though, is Shakma starring Christopher Atkins and Roddy MacDowell.

    Interesting story (maybe). I used to work at a bookstore many years ago. At the time, I was talking to two of my co-workers about little-known b-movie horror. I brought up Shakma. One of my co-workers said something along the lines of, “heard of it? shit, i was in it.” well, I went back to watch my VHS copy and sure enough, that dude wasn’t lying. I ended up talking to him a lot about it and he said that the baboon on set was scary as shit. Apparently, it’s in their nature to freak out so in order to treat the baboon humanely, they would have to let it go absolutely apeshit (not sure if this counts as a pun since it’s probably where the phrase comes from anyway) a few times a day. The dude said their strong as shit too. Apparently this little 3 foot tall monkey pushed a piano across the room in one of his daily rage-walks.

    Yeah. Baboons. Not good pets.

  36. Baboons are the Chuck Norrisses of the animal kingdom.

    Wait,

  37. A baboon can push a fucking piano across a room?! Thats incredible power! Why don’t Predators hunt them instead of us? Because they would get thier dreadlocks pulled out of thier big slapheads.

  38. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Sallah shows up in all these movies. The dude invented Sliding. He can go anywhere.

    So Sallah could easily show up in the film version of “Roosevelt After Inauguration” (aka The Best Use Of Baboons Ever In A Work Of Literature By A Major American Author).

  39. Dammit! Casey beat me to the meme…

    Still, baboons do make for excellent memetic badasses…

  40. Am I the only one that worries for Vern’s safety when he doesn’t post a review for a few days?

  41. He does post a few comments, but yes, I share your concerns.

  42. Maybe he is writing Badassdigest as well, like Pepsi is really owned by Coca Cola

  43. seriously, vern watch is on

    hey vern: if you are writing the great american novel, or depressed in the bottom of a bin of old VHS tapes because some peckerwoods cybersquatted your signature badass movie review space, just pipe in this thread so we don’t have to worry

    cheers

  44. I kind of like it when Vern disappears for a few days. I imagine he’s out on One Last Mission (For Justice).

  45. Vern is probably trying to ensure that Prop 19 passes in CA.

  46. I bet you anything he’s somewheres in eastern Europe trying to track down his evil twin brother who’s been committing crimes and pinning them on Vern, causing our man to have to go underground (where there’s no internet yet) until all guilty parties have been brought to justice, thus exposing the conspiracy and clearing his name. 5 bucks says he’s running from an explosion as I’m typing this. Or maybe fist-fighting Keith David in an alley, desperate to convince him that he’s not his own evil twin. Make that 10.

  47. Twas based on “true events”, as well. Remember seeing the commercials on the TV and thinking it looked scary as hell. Then years later getting to rent it and being bored.

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