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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Devil Hunter (1980)


Starring: Al Cliver and Ursula Buchfellner
Distributor: 88 Films

Certificate: 18
Release Date: 08 April 2019

A beautiful model is kidnapped and, because a lot of money has been spent on promotion, a Vietnam veteran is hired to get her back – with a large bonus if he manages to do so without having to pay the ransom money. He traces her to a tropical island. However, unbeknown to the potential rescuer and the kidnappers, a tribe exists who worship and revere a living Devil God that eats the flesh and particularly the hearts of sacrifices presented by the fearful tribe. The model has become the next offering, but the war veteran has not only the ruthless and greedy kidnappers to face, but the cannibal god himself. Time is running out…

British distributor 88 Films has taken a number of these types of movies and remastered them from the original film stock. A very nice job they have made of it, too. The resultant HD picture is crisp and bright. It’s a shame the dubbed translation into English sounds so rubbish (that’s a technical term, you know!). It’s far too loud and unrefined, and the less said about the awful, corny and forced dialogue the better. This was one of many things which changed my opinion of this presentation… for the better.

This is one of many projects originating from Spanish writer/director Jess Franco. In fact, opinion seems to be divided about just how many films he was involved in but, if you include those made under a handful of pseudonyms, it’s not far short of 200. He was the forerunner of Sexploitation. Sex and horror is the order of the day. It can work as entertainment or simply be in bad taste. Ironically, it isn’t so much the scenes of cannibalism which offend, but the one rape scene early on – even though nothing is really seen. There is no male genitalia on display, though there is full female nudity in abundance – to the point that the camera lingers on the furry bits as though it is stuck in treacle and can’t move away. It certainly highlights the era in which this was made: 1980 -  the promiscuous 1970s leading into the Video Nasty period of the 1980s.

The opening scenes are split between seeing the topless model being driven around in an open-top car or cavorting on a beach, and the cannibal cult on the island offering a naked young woman to be eaten by their god. Considering this is an isolated island, the tribe is nothing if not culturally diverse. There are all shades of skin colour, which probably says more about lack of cheap and available actors than it does racial equality. Their loin cloths seem to be made from bits of carpet. Women from the tribe dance naked, wiggling their bits in supplication to their living god. One of them goes one step further by writhing in comical sexual ecstasy whenever a sacrifice is offered.

Strange echoed noises are abundant whenever the super-slow Devil God is near. The god sounds like a heavy breather who constantly burps. He has red-painted table tennis balls for eyes, making me wonder if he is related to Caine’s blind Master Po from the old Kung Fu series. Our perfect hero goes up against the god in a physical battle which appears far too casual. This after he has effortlessly climbed an incline which, once the camera has been tilted, turns into a sheer rock-face. Also, I have to ask: don’t they have night time on this island? Everything takes place in bright sunshine.

Look, I could spend all day picking holes in The Devil Hunter but, believe it or not, that’s part of its appeal. At the end of the day you’ve got to forget how out of touch it is with the modern world and appreciate it as Cheesy Sleaze. I found myself chuckling or groaning most of the way through it; enjoying the experience like you would a so-bad-it’s-good 1950s B-Movie. The excellent feature length documentary on Jess Franco is worthy of at least one extra point.


Ty Power

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