Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Video Nasty #14 - The Devil Hunter

Truly one of the worst of the Video Nasties, The Devil Hunter from 1980 was Jess Franco's second and final foray into the then fashionable Cannibal genre of which Franco had little affinity for, and every inch of this piece of celluloid dreck bears this out.


In the film, a beautiful model is kidnapped by some vicious thugs and held for ransom on a remote island. Two Vietnam vets are dispatched to return the girl to safety but unbeknownst to the kidnappers and the rescue team, the island is stalked by a large cannibal creature with ping pong balls for eyes and a taste for platinum blondes...


For anyone who needs to see The Devil Hunter my advice would be to regularly check your pulse during the film - such is the glacial pace, you might find yourself slipping into a coma. If there's any point of interest in the film it's probably how jaw droppingly inept the whole business is. With lighting changing from shot to shot, there's no attempt to make any of the film look consistent. Take one scene for instance when the girl is being exchanged for the ransom. Both parties agree to meet on a beach for the swap but the cutting back and forth suggests it's dusk on one part of the island and daytime in another part, even though the space between is within walking distance. Also, the English dubbing is perhaps the worst ever in European Cult Cinema. Not only do characters speak with their mouths firmly shut but judging by the ridiculous accents it's quite likely the same voice artist was employed to dub all the characters. Perhaps knowing he was onto a loser, Franco fills the film with shots of female crotches and has his leading lady, clad in a torn pink dress molested as often as possible. But somehow it's just not enough...


All this would seem bearable if it was as bloodthirsty as it's Italian counterparts, but the film features almost no cannibalism or gore, besides a very fleeting shot of somebody's intestines. Another point of irritation is the incessant soundtrack, which never seems to pause - at any moment there's likely to be Franco's own musical stylings like a spectral piano refrain, or worse still some tribal drumming or the heavily echoed breathing sounds of the creature, and most annoying of all, a loop of the same damn bird chirping out the same call ad infinitum. Among the cast is Zombie Flesh Eater's Al Cliver, wooden as ever, but there's one hilarious scene where Cliver is supposed to be scaling a cliff wall, but Franco simply turns the camera over on its side and has Cliver scramble on all fours over some rocks. Also, in the cast is Terror Express' Werner Pochath, a fine actor who wisely exits the film at the half way mark.

In the absence of anything more interesting, here's some gratuitous nudity
Severin's UK DVD is much like their US issue - the 1.66 transfer is probably a good effort but the film looks so soft and washed out it's difficult to say. Audio is actually quite good, even if there's little to get excited about. If the English dub is unbearable, a French dub is also on hand, and gives the whole thing a little more respectability. Extras include a trailer and an interview with Franco about the film (from the same interview session as the featurette Bloody Moon) on . You have been warned.

8 comments:

  1. Sounds like you had to grit your teeth for this one, Wes. I haven't seen it but your review made me think of those terrible Eddie Romero movies shot in the Philippines starring John Ashley. Have you seen any of those?

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  2. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing any of Eddie Romero's films, I just know them by name... Didn't one of his films feature the ad copy "Directed by Eddie Romero of Apocalypse Now" ? I'm sure he was attached to the production in some peripheral way...

    Yeah Jon, Devil Hunter was a slog and really there's no reason to see this film - dispel all those romantic notions about the Video Nasties for this one. Being a Ken Russell fan, I'm used to taking the rough with the smooth, but Franco's work must be the most variable of any auteur. I recently caught his film Lorna the Exorcist and found it a genuinely astonishing film, but the gulf between that film and Devil Hunter is incredible...

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  3. Wes, sounds like a real grind but yet It's tempting just for the cliff scaling, hilarious! I've never got into Franco despite trying a few times. I really like the title The Devil hunter too!

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  4. Oh, it's completely missable Mart. A great title, and that's about it. If this wasn't on the Nasties list and I wasn't the fearless correspondant you've all come to know and love (ahem), I would have given this one a wide berth !

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  5. I'm not at all familiar with this one, and after reading your review, I reckon I don't really have to be! I was struck by the appearance of the cannibal/zombie creature though - couldn't help but think of Carrefour from Jacques Tourneur's poetic and atmospheric I Walked with a Zombie...

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  6. Yes, well spotted James, I agree. However that may be the first and last time an analogy could be drawn between I Walked with a Zombie and this Jess Franco abomination !

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  7. I know you're warning us off - but I'm masochistic enough to attempt this for three reasons - the sheer ineptitude and that blonde up there. (See what I did there?)

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  8. I want to say that blonde is two good reasons to catch this mercilessly terrible flick but it would mean an awful lot of crap to wade through to get to her. One to avoid !

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