Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Devil Hunter (1980) - review



The Devil Hunter
1980
Starring: Al Cliver, Ursula Buchfellner, Antonio Mayans

Filmed back-to-back with Cannibals, this second exercise in gut-munching tedium from Franco offers absolutely nothing new since his first inauspicious venture into the genre. Hollywood starlet Laura Crawford (Ursula Buchfellner) is kidnapped while on a publicity tour for her latest movie in Spain by a group of blackmailers. They flee to a hideaway on a remote island and demand a huge ransom from the film’s producer in exchange for Laura. The producer sends hardbitten Vietnam vet Peter Weston (Al Cliver) to deliver the ransom. However the deal turns sour and after a near-fatal showdown, Laura escapes her abusive kidnappers by hiding in the forest, unaware that even worse dangers lurk there...coincidentally a cannibal tribe lives on the island. The tribe is under the command of the ‘Devil’ – a stark naked, heavy breathing seven foot man-mountain constantly mugging for the camera with bulging, bloodshot eyes (literally bloodied ping-pong balls attached to the actor’s face with what looks like brown Play-Doh) and drooling gooey blood. The Devil has the tribe capture any nubile young women they can find as sacrifices for him, whilst he ominously stalks the forest on the hunt for fresh kills. One by one the kidnappers are eliminated and Laura falls into the clutches of the primitive tribe. Weston finds Laura just in the nick of time and after a treacherous haul up a cliff face (Franco outdoes himself with his cheapness here – the camera was turned on its side and Cliver crawled along some rocky ground!), he throws the Devil off the cliff, the tribe are freed from their leader’s evil reign and our hero and Laura sail off into the sunset.
As soon as I saw the return of the multi-ethnic, wedding-band and white tennis shoe wearing cannibals a few minutes into the film I knew I was going to be in a very – long   -  hour   -   and     -    a       -      half. Despite the potential for entertaining depravity, Devil Hunter pretty much consists of endless shots of the characters wandering around the forest, and occasionally splices in a quickly cut or blurry red paint and offal rendered effect. Even the rampant nudity with Franco’s constant trademark zooms on arses and crotches gets mighty old before long. Franco himself has admitted that he had no interest in directing cannibal films and only did so at the request of his producers Eurocine, who hoped to make a quick buck riding on the success of hits like The Last Cannibal World and Slave of the Cannibal God. His blatant disinterest shows in everything from the looped, and occasionally mismatched sound effects (since when are forest floors covered in gravel?) to the feature-length padding ‘technique’ of cutting back to the same shot three times consecutively.  Another cannibal clunker to stay far away from!




2 comments:

  1. I used to feel the same way about it but since I've been taking a more quantitative approach to Franco's filmography it gains interest. Everything you say is true but I read it now as his critique of the genre and his stated purpose for being. In other words, JF is the DEVIL HUNTER, going into the jungle [genre] for money and getting a dirty job done. It becomes about our reactions to "cannibals" "Robert Redford" "Vietnam" and gore filmmaking on a severely restricted budget with a King Kong ending. That doesn't mean that it's "good" but such qualitative terms become less and less interesting to me as I approach 4 decades of writing about the man and collecting his films.

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  2. Thanks for your comment Robert, I like the new perspective you have on the film and I've never thought about looking at Franco's 'lesser' films taking a quantitative approach. Going slightly OT, I remember when I first saw A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD years ago I hated it, but then saw it again (as the non-Rollin footage version) and liked it a bit more, then a couple more times and now it's one of my favourites of his films as I keep noticing little things I had missed in previous viewings, both on a qualitive and quantitative level.

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