Thursday, September 24, 2015

I'm not sure what's more hideous--the monster or the film itself

I am regretting the wisdom of deciding to do a Jess Franco Week here at Terror Titans.

Devil Hunter (aka "Sex Cannibal") (1980)
Starring: Ursula Fellner, Antonio Mayans, and Al Cliver
Director: Jess  Franco (as Clifford Brown)
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

When an actress (Fellner) is kidnapped and held for ransom, adventurer Peter Westen (Cliver) is hired to rescue her. But when she falls into the hands of savage natives who intend to sacrifice her to their vile, living god, Westen's job becomes far more difficult. Will he be in time before the monstrous devil-god drives her mad or eats her?

I wasn't more than 10 minutes in before "Devil Hunter" made me feel dirty for just watching it. It was suich a slasp-dash effort technically and the way the camera lingered on a shot of female genitalia made it clear what Franco was wanting emphasize. And that was before we got to the rapes and scenes of the Devil literally eating a woman's pussy.

I thought "Oasis of Zombies" had to be worst Franco film. I was wrong. This is movie's even worse. It's more sloppily put together, more chaotic in its story-telling, and even more embarrassing technically. It's like no effort whatsoever went into color correcting different bits of film, or even considering that shots of characters that are supposed to be together at the same time should be standing in the same light. is the worst Franco film. The pacing is glacially slow at all times, causing even the interesting bits to become tedious. And the Foley work is generally so awful that it's probably the worst seen outside a student project that received a failing grade.

And the soundtrack? Oh my God... the soundtrack! It's performed entirely on a Hammond organ, and it sounds like it was being ad-libbed as the film was running. It's everything you'd expect from a parody of a cheap horror film from the 1950s. (The score is credited to Franco himself, so I guess this means he's as good at slapping music together as he at a film.)

Amusingly, whoever did the English dub that I watched seemed to care as much about making a quality product as Franco did. At roughly the 1:10 mark, the characters stop speaking English and are instead speaking in Spanish. The English dub resumes at about the 1:17 mark. Fortunately, dialogue isn't that important, because there's no story to get in the way of the plot.

So why am I even giving Two Stars?

Because the scenes with the Devil were actually very creepy and even downright scary. If Franco could have done the entire movie this skillfully, he might actually have made something decent. The use of sound whenever the mutant cannibal devil is creeping about in search of some pussy to eat is damn effective. (Of course, it might also just seem so, because everything surrounding it is so ineptly done.)

The final 10-15 minutes of the film are also pretty intense. They are by far the best part of the movie, and I suppose Franco might have been keeping in mind that if you finish strong that's what the audience will remember, and they'll have a better opinion of the film than it deserves. On the other hand, it could just be an accident. Or maybe I had just been ground down by the rest of the film, and I had stopped fighting and was now accepting of my fate.

"Devil Hunter" has a running time of 1:47. Maybe if chopped down to 1:10 or maybe even just 50 minutes it could be bearable. As it stands, however, it's just a movie to be avoided.

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