Richard very kindly offered me my choice of one of three Franco films to review for his already legendary Franco Friday series. One of them I thought sounded good so I figured I'd leave it to Richard. He has watched some crap so if there is a chance that it could be good he should have the opportunity to watch it. Another didn't sound too promising and the third choice I actually had a copy of. So I went with it- 1980’s Devil Hunter.
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Ursulla Buchfellner, Al Cliver, Antonio Mayans, Antonio de Cabo, Bertrand Altmann
Al Cliver is the attraction here, in my mind anyway. The actor that Fulci affectionately (?) called Rockhead has always been a favorite of mine so I was excited despite not being a big fan of the cannibal series of the late 70's and early 80's. But Franco delivers in that department. A girl gets her labia ripped off and eaten. I was going to lead with that but then I remembered that Richard wants people to read his blog. Let's get into it shall we?
A model working in South America gets kidnapped by some yahoos wearing pantyhose on their heads. They hold her for ransom on a jungle island not realizing they aren’t far from some native cannibals that worship a character named The Devil who wanders around eating women. Her agent hires Vietnam vet Al Cliver to go get her, telling him he can keep 10% of the ransom if he comes back with the girl AND the ransom intact. Meanwhile they keep the model chained up and do very Franco-like things to her: beat her, cut on her, molest her, etc.
This is all intercut with scenes of natives doing their thing. Dancing around naked, playing drums, sacrificing girls to The Devil. The Devil by the way is an enormous African guy who at first we only see parts of, his eyes in particular. His eyes are giant and googly and appear to have eyelashes growing out of the eyeballs. That grossed me out more than anything. Well maybe not anything. We'll get there.
Al shows up to the island in a helicopter piloted by a retard which promptly gets blown up. The helicopter, not the retard. Seriously, this guy has the worst dubbing I've ever heard. It's a southern accent that goes above and beyond the usual to make southerners sound like a bunch of inbreds. He is also a Vietnam vet and picks the absolute worst time to have a flashback and go all worthless and weepy. The imdb plot synopsis says that Al Cliver goes into the jungle in true Indiana Jones style but this was pre-Raiders Of The Lost Ark. So now whenever I see Indiana Jones I’m going to say, “Boy, he is really Al Cliverin it.” And as I suspected, Cliver is the best part of the film.
The camera shots are nice, it isn't hard to make a jungle look like a jungle. We get p.o.v. shots from The Devil's perspective that aren't bad. The acting is ok while the dubbing is atrocious. Then there's all the prerequisite stuff: a ransom/ kidnapee trade off gone wrong, shootouts, members of the kidnap team being killed by the natives, etc. All of this is leading up to the big Al Cliver/The Devil confrontation.
Did I mention that The Devil is completely naked? That not only did Franco make this poor bastard wear eye prosthetics that surely made it impossible for him to see but also made him run around the jungle with his dick in the wind? And Franco doesn't shy away from showing it to us. I've only seen one other penis more than this guy's and that's mine.
So The Devil is about to throw the model over the cliff when Al comes climbing up and they have a fight. Al puts The Devil in a full nelson and his penis is flopping all over this place. It was one of the more surreal moments I've seen in a while. It looked like Al Cliver humping a giant, bug eyed, naked black dude. It WAS Al Cliver humping a giant, bug eyed, naked black dude till Al stabs a stick into The Devil’s mouth (!) and then launches him into the stratosphere. The End.
I recommend this film to Franco/Al Cliver completists, cannibal film fans and crazy people. My wife Elizabeth lost interest in the first 3 minutes so I warn you. It was also, at 102 minutes, way too long. To sum it all up, sometimes Al Cliver is enough. And sometimes, giant penises.