Now available on Region 2 DVD
Directed by Jess Franco
Finally being released uncut in England and the USA, Jess Franco’s Devil Hunter, once part of the infamous video nasties list, is actually quite tame compared with the rest of those movies. Devil Hunter is Franco’s attempt at cannibal exploitation and thus all the required elements are present: Many topless tribesmen and women, many topless western men and women, many scenes of red paint flying about the place and a naked devil wandering the jungle looking for a mate.
This film is pure exploitation in every sense from beginning to end. Women enter scenes either partially or fully naked, and Laura Crawford as the lead protagonist spends almost the entire film completely nude. The titular “devil” of the film also spends the entire movie totally naked, with enough close-ups to warrant the film an almost pornographic feel. Aside to the lurid depictions of nudity, there are quite a few scenes of garish rubber gore to up the exploitation factor.
The film is also poorly dubbed and many of the efforts to match up dialogue with visual movements fall short and end up laughably bad, as it also doesn’t help that the added English language dialogue is ridiculous to start with. The best example of this is the character who seems to want to say “shit” at the end of every sentence, providing such classic moments as when told about the native flowers, he replies “Flowers SHIT!” It is this kind of unintentionally hilarious dialogue that makes Devil Hunter an interesting watch to say the least.
Throughout the film, most scenes raise giggles rather than scares, as most attempts at suspense fail due to the overlong nature of the stalking scenes and the fact that it is difficult to overlook the fact that everyone is naked most of the time. The characterization is also paper-thin and any element of pathos for any character is almost non-existent. The tribesmen and women are given even less characterization and serve merely to appear topless, dance or chase people, which is a shame as it would have been interesting to discover the origins behind the titular devil. However, the storyline of an actress being held ransom in the jungle while simultaneously being chased by a devil doesn’t really offer any chance for exposition.
It really is a peculiar film and in an interview on this particular DVD release, it is mentioned by Franco that the idea for a cannibal film was not his – this emphasizes the cash-in nature of the film and gives reason for the jungle setting. However, this could easily be seen as a zombie film as it certainly contains a few elements to be regarded as such and therefore the mixture of genres create a curio that is definitely typical of Franco, and therefore will be enough to please many viewers of this specific acquired taste.
This film will definitely give fans of exploitation at least some of the required elements, for it really isn’t that gory or as shocking as most of the other entries into the cannibal cycle, but it certainly isn’t boring. However it has enough quirks and unintentional humor to make it a worthy edition to anyone either collecting Jess Franco movies, or attempting to watch all of the video nasties as it remains a tantalizingly tasteless example of fascinating Franco.