"Indiana Jess & The Temple of Dubious Film-making"
Warning: The following review gives away the entirety of the storyline of Jess Franco's DEVIL HUNTER. If you are the kind of person who enjoys experiencing important story points, plot twists and of course a satisfying conclusion, it is strongly suggested that you watch something else entirely, and certainly not this film. For those of you still on board, be advised / warned that 88 Films are bringing out Jess Franco's singular piece of jungle adventure tat on UK Blu-ray. Hopefully the following notes will help guide you through the sweaty, sticky, sanity-threatening trail of celluloid that is DEVIL HUNTER.
For those of you unfamiliar with the work of this particular director (which means you must be new to this site): be warned - DEVIL HUNTER is not an ordinary film. Rather it’s a bit like what you might get if a group of long-term institutionalised psychiatric patients were told to make an Indiana Jones film as some kind of weird therapy. We kick off with film star Laura Crawford (Ursula Buchfellner) arriving in a sunny coastal town where locations are apparently being scouted for her new film. Laura never gets to see them, however because scarcely has she had the chance to take a soapy bath in water that only comes up to her ankles than she’s being kidnapped! Intercut with this is a second ‘plotline’ featuring a jungle tribe of such incredible cryptoanthropological obscurity that its members look as if they are all actually members of different races entirely. They’ve chased and captured a naked lady and have tied her up as an offering to their god. This turns out to be a large googly-eyed nude man who eats her in the most unconvincing way imaginable.
Laura’s kidnappers take her to the same bit of jungle (we have to work out for ourselves) and the ransom is set. Al Cliver plays hero Peter Weston who, with his Vietnam flashback-suffering phobic helicopter pilot sidekick travels to the island where the jungle is with a bag of money and instructions to come back ‘with the girl and the money’. Everything goes a bit wrong at the exchange - our heroes have to bail out of their helicopter, which isn't too difficult as it’s quite obviously still on the ground. Various cast members get shot, leaving Laura to wander through the jungle in her strategically torn dress that we’ve already seen her rather fetchingly chained up in (Franco strikes again, but not as much as he will in a bit). The googly-eyed nude monster is still wandering the island, presumably in the search for a decent pair of trousers or at least a loincloth. Al and his chum happen across a boat which, naturally, has yet another naked girl aboard. Swiftly disarming her Al then hangs around drinking beer and setting a very bad role model to the two or three people who would have watched this on its initial release by throwing the bottle into the sea.
He decides to try and rescue Laura. She’s been captured by the tribe of multi-ethnicity and is currently being undressed very slowly by very scantily clad village girls. It’s not long before Mr Franco cannot restrain himself and his camera falls to focus on various ladies’ ‘personal areas’. The only thing that can possibly distract him is a gratuitous googly eyed nude monster attack.
On the yacht, Vietnam Vet and Nude Yacht Girl are indulging in some Sophisticated Audience Entertainment. But whose bloodshot bulging eyes are those staring down from the deck? Yes it’s time to cut to a shot of animal’s intestines being pulled out before we’re back with naked Laura, tied up and ready to be sacrificed. In amongst all of this we’ve had possibly the worst and most unconvincing decapitated head to ever be committed to celluloid (it’s the actor lying down with some leaves around his neck) and a fight between Al and the ridiculously accented lead kidnapper that takes place in the sea and sounds as if the Foley artist didn’t have much more to work with than a small bucket of water to provide the sound effects.
The mind-bending climax (and believe me your mind will have been bent by the time you get to it - this is a Franco film that’s over 100 minutes long) has Al in a showdown with the big naked beastie, whom he eventually skewers with a stick he produces from the magical nowhere that is bad editing before chucking Mr Googly off a cliff. Al carries nude Laura down a hill and looks as if he had quite a difficult job doing it. The End.
DEVIL HUNTER is meant to be a cannibal film, presumably filmed in the weekend after Jess (or possibly his producer) saw Ruggero Deodato’s CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, but it plays more like a 1930s jungle adventure movie but with the usual Franco obsessions and a monster with a waggly willy (I bet that'll bring plenty of Google searches to this page).
But should you get this Blu-ray? Well, 88 Films have gone the extra several miles into the jungle that is Jess Franco's career and come back with a feature-length documentary about the man and his work, so this incarnation of DEVIL HUNTER should go straight onto the 'to buy' list of any Franco fan. Numerous film journalists, authors, critics and some actors as well (including Dyanne Thorne and Antonio Mayans) offer insights into the great man's career. For those of his fans who can't get enough insights into his working practices (of which I am one) makes 88 Films' DEVIL HUNTER a must buy.
Jess Franco's DEVIL HUNTER is out on Blu-ray from 88 Films on Monday 8th April 2019