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When a man who doesn't have Alzheimer's can't remember how many films
he's made, he probably is the world's most prolific director after all.
That man is Jesus Franco, the king of so-called 'eurotrash'. His 1980
flick Devil Hunter is as rushed, opaque, stupid, lazy and exploitative
in the truest sense of the word (the film's title is misleading, for
starters) as any other Franco film I've seen. That makes it sound
pretty awful, and it is... Yet Franco does have some kind of inimitable
sensibility, a generous way with the baldly outrageous, with nudity and
sleaze and violence, and even with his stupid cheap editing which tries
to pave over the extreme haste with which all his films were made. The
mix of all these elements causes you to ride his films out, even while
you're mostly waiting for them to end because they're so very tedious.
Devil Hunter is nigh on incomprehensible for the first half an hour. The kidnap by strangers of a white woman who seems to be a model or film star is intercut with a bunch of native action in South America. There's lots of naked writhing, dancing, and endless repeated zoom-ins on an ugly totem pole. You need to get used to the repetitive zoom-ins and the technique of cutting back to the same shot about three times in a row right away, as these are Franco's main methods of extending a film out to feature length.
The monster who looks like the totem pole is actually kind of scary. He has raw bug eyes and his presence is always signalled on the soundtrack by cacophonous groaning, apparently recorded in an echo chamber. Early in the piece he chews on a native lady strapped to a tree, and it's hard to know what really happens here but I think he ate her stomach (or her genitals, sweet Jesus!).
Anyway, the adventure begins properly when a studly guy and his freaked out Vietnam vet pal are sent to the island to recover the white girl from the kidnappers. The flakey guy has an accent which, as dubbed, is half Brooklyn-American, half English-Liverpudlian and all retarded. All of the dialogue and dubbing is ridiculous and laughable, making for another layer of the film which can somehow hold your interest.
Not too much really happens from here on in, and it happens pretty sluggishly, studded with the odd bit of outrage like a rape. The nebulous action is fleshed out (haha!) by acres of 360 degree nudity from the natives and the two female leads, and even from the monster himself. That he walks around with his penis exposed makes wrestling him an unappetising prospect for the tough guy hero, but it's gotta be done at some point, and it's nice to note that the director will show anyone's genitals on camera.
The best feature of Devil Hunter is the location filming. Franco can be extremely cheap with the structural and story aspects of film-making, but he doesn't muck around with sets. You get real islands, jungles, helicopters and mountains, all in widescreen. This is something that is really cool to experience in these days of crappy CGI sets and backdrops ad nauseam.
Ultimately, issues of recommendation where this film is concerned seem moot. If you're trying to see all the Video Nasties, you will have to watch this at some point, and you'll be made as restless as I was. If you like Franco, you'll watch this anyway. If you fall into neither of the above categories, the odds are you'll never come across this film. Copies of it aren't just lying around, and I could hardly recommend the seeking out of it. It's Franco. Lazy, crazy Franco.
The Devil Hunter (this film's UK video title) found itself caught up in the early 1980s 'video nasties' scare, for reasons I find impossible to fathom. It certainly should have been banned, but only because no reasonable human being should have to pay to sit through such junk. As with most of Jesus Franco's films, there are crash zooms to nothing, dreamy music, terrible performances, clumsy dubbing (most of the male characters are apparently dubbed by the same actor!) and several interminable sequences, suggesting that the former musician couldn't wait for a day on the set to finish - so he shot everything fast and cheap in order to get back home to his jazz records and his trumpet. Large parts of the film make no sense, and you'll run out of fingers and toes trying to count the goofs, but the really priceless ones are the actor who actually giggles when a squirt of blood hits him in the face, and the totem pole that bounces when it's supposed to be crashing to the floor. And check out those sound effects - since when did walking through the jungle sound like walking down a gravel drive? If you can find a copy of this tosh anywhere, I'll be surprised, but do yourself a favour and pass it by. If you decide to watch it, you'll want to sue Franco and his colleagues for ninety minutes of your life that you'll never get back.
I am a huge admirer of the prolific Spanish Exploitation deity Jess
Franco, whose impressive filmography includes over 190 titles so far.
It is undeniable that the man has made masterpieces and total crap
alike, and his attempts to cash in on the popular Italian
Cannibal-sub-genre belong rather to the latter category. This movie of
the delicate title SEXO Cannibal (aka. THE DEVIL HUNTER) of 1980 is
better than his absolutely terrible other Cannibal flick from the same
year, MONDO CANNIBALE (which is not to be confused with Umberto Lenzi's
PAESE DELLO SESSO SELVAGGIO and Ruggero Deodato's ULTIMO MONDO
CANNIBALE, two genre-classics which are often referred to as MONDO
CANNIBALE 1&2). SEXO Cannibal is somewhat interesting for its
epitomizing Jess Franco's habit to shamelessly ignore any logic and
build up movies that exist almost entirely of sleaze and violence. The
film is furthermore notable as it is one of the three Franco-films that
landed on the UK's infamous "Video Nasty" list of banned movies, making
him the most prolific Video Nasty maker alongside the Italian genius
and 'Godfather of Gore' Lucio Fulci, who also made three films that
landed on the list.
A model (Ursula Buschfellner) is kidnapped by criminals who ask for a ransom of 6 million dollars. Her agent asks 'nam vet and soldier of fortune Weston (Al Cliver) to free her. Out of all places, the criminals hold her hostage on an island full of savages who habitually feed young women to a rape-hungry cannibal fiend. Needless to say that the island is full of hot women with exhibitionist tendencies...
The film is fun to watch for its shameless sleaze and for the gore (though the latter wasn't as extreme as I had expected). It is also fun to watch for the lack of logic, and some parts that are downright absurd. Weston's sidekick, for example, is the wussiest 'Nam vet I've ever seen on film. The guy starts crying whenever he enters the jungle. Franco obviously picked up on the 'Nam-trauma' theme that was so popular in US-cinema in the late 70s and 80s here, and since he is Jess Franco he decided to exaggerate it more than a little bit. Overall, this isn't one of Franco's worst 80s movies, but it certainly far from being one of his better ones. Personally, I would state that Franco is best when making films about deranged Scientists or Nymphomaniac/Lesbian Vampires, his contributions to the Cannibal-genre are rather forgettable. SEXO Cannibal is still worth the time for my fellow fans of the man, who are most likely not gonna expect intriguing story lines and breathtaking suspense anyway.
In many ways this is an absolutely terrible, unforgivably poor movie
but in many other ways it's yet another one of the "video nasty"
choices that at least puts in enough material covering the lowest
common denominators to make the viewing mildly entertaining when it
could have been a big, boring mess (though it comes dangerously close
and may be a much lesser film in the eyes of others).
The plot is as follows: nekkid woman gets munched - another nekkid woman bathes - people kidnap nekkid woman to hold for ransom - butch man is sent to rescue nekkid woman - nekkid woman gets nekkid again - nekkid rape - nekkidness - other nekkid women - cannibal man with big fake ping pong ball eyes - nekkid - and so on until the grand finale that actually continues the nekkid theme.
The dubbing is terrible, the gore effects are generally quite bad although one or two moments almost do a decent job, the acting is atrocious, someone could have shaved this down by about 20 minutes in the editing suite and things are almost as wobbly as an Ed Wood film.
And with this being a film by Jesus (aka Jess aka 101 other names) Franco we get an awful lot of lascivious shots of people's pubic regions. If you're new to Franco then this is far from his most boring film though it's also very different from many of his other outings from this period (the others tended to be even more focused on sex albeit often very twisted, perverse sex).
I'd mention the script, acting, technical side of things but I'd have to stop myself laughing long enough to be able to steadily work my keyboard so let's forget that idea. Instead, I will say that this gets an average score for just managing to stay amusing enough throughout to keep me awake. A great comedy for horror fans, if you get into the right frame of mind.
Perhaps I'm more favorably disposed to this movie than to the similar
Jess Franco effort "Cannibals" because I only rented this one instead
of purchasing the DVD. Regardless though, while "Cannibals" is pure
dreck, this movie is kind of entertaining, mostly in spite of itself. A
group of kidnappers snatch a bimbo starlet (Ursula Fellehner) and hold
her captive on an island. They are pursued by two hired mercenaries
(Franco regulars Al Cliver and Anthony Mayans). While the two groups
fight amongst themselves, the girl falls into the clutches of a local
tribe of "cannibals" (half of which are African, and the other half
obviously white Southern Europeans), who plan to sacrifice her to their
"god", a tall black guy with ping-pong ball eyes. (Franco famously, if
very unconvincingly, once accused the movie "Predator" of stealing his
plot idea from this movie).
The best part of this flick is the goofball dialogue and dubbing. Anthony Mayan's character, for instance, talks like Gabby Hayes for some reason and keeps having Vietnam flashbacks, even though he looks a little young to have been in 'Nam. One of the kidnappers shouts obscenities at everybody and seems genuinely disturbed by the "wild vegetation" (he makes Giovanni Lombardi Radici's character from "Cannnibal Ferox" seemed well-mannered and soft-spoken by comparison). When asked by reporters what she thinks of the men in their, country Fellehner's character responds in true bimbo fashion, "I have no opinion of men. I just love them." Later one of the mercenaries tells her stay put. Her response: "Huh?!"
Naturally, the special effects are laughably un-special, and the public domain copy I saw was obviously ported from a Japanese source since it "optically fogs" Fellehner's pubic region (which is quite a job since the German Playboy Playmate barely spends a minute of her screen time with any clothes on). But despite the rampant (albeit partially "fogged")nudity from Fellehner and other assorted bimbos, this movie really fails to live up to its foreign title "Sexo Cannibal" (the cannibal doesn't get any sex, nor does anyone else really). Amazingly, this rather tame item was one of only two Franco films that were banned in Britain back in the "video nastie" days.
Of course, I'm sure an overpriced "uncut" and subtitled version will someday appear for all the spendthrift masochists, i.e. Jess Franco fans, out there. But frankly I don't think they can improve on the unintentional hilarity of this public domain version (aside from "unfogging" Fellehner's pubes, of course).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How can you tell that a horror movie is terrible? when you can't stop
laughing about it of course! The plot has been well covered by other
reviewers, so I'll just add a few things on the hilarity of it all.
Some reviews have placed the location in South America, others in Africa, I thought it was in some random island in the Pacific. Where exactly does this take place, seems to be a mystery. The cannibal tribe is conformed by a couple of black women some black men, and a man who looks like a young Frank Zappa banging the drums... the Devil God is a large black man with a terrible case of pink eyes.
One of the "freakiest" moments in the film is when, "Pablito" find his partner hanging from a tree covered in what seems to be an orange substance that I assume is blood, starts screaming for minutes on and on (that's actually funny), and then the head of his partner falls in the ground and "Pablito" kicks it a bit for what I assume is "shits n' giggles" and the eyes actually move...
But, of course, then the "freak" is gone when you realize the eyes moved because the movie is just bad...
I hadn't laughed like this in a loooong while, and I definitely recommend this film for a Sunday afternoon with your friends and you have nothing to do... grab a case of beers and start watching this film, you'll love it! If you are looking for a real horror or gore movie, though... don't' bother.
I didn't expect much of the movie because of it's title, the time it
came out, the title, and because it was Jess Franco's attempt to crash
into the cannibal craziness.
Sure, the movie offers the needed brutality and of course sleaze.
At some points, the movie gets dull and tedious. For example, by the time the hot actress gets abducted in her home (while taking a shower; gratuitous nudity inserted) I was getting desperate because of the incuts showing the cannibals and hunters followed by the Director's POV and horrible but creepy music and sounds.
The brutality is present but only in minimal amounts. Yikes! The cannibal leader or whatever even rips off with his teeth and later eats a woman's... oh well you should watch it.
I wouldn't recommend this piece of euro trash for fanatics of quality exploitation. Sure, the plot is depraved and rough but the execution is somewhat cheesy and not well produced.
At some points I wondered if the edition was just terrible or if it was an edited version.
I enjoy Franco's work but this effort is just a waste of time. Watch it only if you are fan of Euro sleaze or trash cinema.
Devil Hunter, The (1980)
** (out of 4)
A producer is showing off his beautiful actress (Ursula Buchfellner) when terrorists kidnap her and hold her for ransom in the jungle. The producer hires a specialist (Al Cliver) to go in after her but he must battle cannibals and the monster they worship to try and save the beauty. I had previously seen the German version of this film but this new one released by Severin features nearly twelve-minutes worth a new footage and brings the running time up to 102-minutes. I was worried about this but the added running time actually helps the movie. If you know Franco then you know sleaze is his specialty and that's what we get here. There's a whole lot of sleaze in this thing ranging from non-stop nudity to some bloody violence. Speaking of the nudity, I really don't think there are many frames in this film where a woman isn't naked and if there is then it doesn't last more than thirty-seconds or so. As usual, Franco knows how to film a naked body and his camera doesn't shy away from scanning the woman from head to toe and that includes one of the new scenes where a woman does a tribal dance and the camera goes as close as you can to capture those lower regions. Cliver is best known for his role in Lucio Fulci's Zombie but he makes for a good hero. His acting isn't the greatest out there but he does look the part well. Buchfellner is fairly good in her role as well but I'm sure it was her naked body that caught Franco's eyes. The film has a fairly weak story but it does make for some good sleaze if that's what you're looking for.
Not sure if I'm referring to those who labeled this a video nasty or to
the director..."Devil Hunter" sure is one bizarre 'horror' movie.
The plot is a loosey goosey combo of superior films like "Cannibal Ferox" and "Cut and Run." Chick gets kidnapped in the 'jungle' by a 'tribe' of 'savages.' The jungle looks more like a park somewhere in Mexico. The tribe is like a group of hippies who walk around in Party City-style Halloween costume renditions of tribal garb. And the savages range in race from white to Asian to black to hispanic. I suppose Franco just grabbed anyone who looked even slightly ethnic for this romp.
To make matters worse, this film has ultra-minimal gore, no real scares and a lot of unnecessary penis. Not fun. I can find something to like in just about any sleazy Italian or Euro-trash film; this one just fell WAY short.
2 out of 10, kids.
Lesser known but full-blooded Jess Franco exploitation that cashes in on the popular early 80's trend of European cannibal movies. A successful actress is kidnapped by a gang of thugs whilst shooting a movie in the South-African jungle. She's kept prisoner and gets sexually abused frequently, but this is only the beginning of her misery as the jungle homes a native tribe with strange and primitive beliefs. Their God is a spooky, flesh-eating madman with his eyeballs hanging out of his sockets. Yikes!! "Devil Hunter" features some beautiful filming locations, good atmospheric music and a whole lot of authentic euro-sleaze. Still, there are many tedious moments and redundant sub plots. The amount of gore is limited but several sequences are truly nauseating, notably the one where the lead-cannibal bites off a poor girl's labia and devour it! Oh my God!! According to the VHS-cover it was her heart, but I doubt her heart was located between the legs. Proceed at your own risk!
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