1980 - 102m.
Al Cliver sure gets a raw deal in this one. A veteran of many classic Italian horror flicks, Cliver is a familiar face to fans of Eurotrash and has appeared in classics like The Beyond and Zombie. With his good looks and macho swagger, he always seemed like the kind of guy who should be the hero of these movies but I have only seen him in supporting roles until now. In Devil Hunter, Cliver is convincing as a adventurer bounty hunter and makes for a pretty good lead but it all falls apart in the climax of the film where he has to battle a large, black man atop a cliff. What makes this battle particularly difficult to take seriously is that Cliver's opponent is completely naked and his penis is flopping around while poor Al is attempting to give him a full-nelson and fighting for his life. I kept thinking that I would have been so choked if I was Al and I had to go through with these scenes knowing how completely ridiculous they look. I guess he should have known better than to take a part in a Jess Franco movie.
Ursula Buchfellner stars as Laura Crawford, a beautiful blonde actress who is promoting her new film. She is quickly abducted and brought to a remote island and held for ransom. The movie studio hires Peter Weston (Cliver) to get their star back and even offers him a bonus if he can pull it off without giving up the ransom money. With the help of a sketched-out Vietnam vet sidekick, Peter heads to the island to carry out the mission. Unfortunately for Laura and the kidnappers, the island is also inhabited by a cannibal tribe that worships the aforementioned large black naked dude who also has really gross eyes that look like gory ping-pong balls. If you have seen the mutants in Deathsport with David Carradine, you get the idea except this is like one of those mutants on steroids. Once Peter arrives on the island, the exchange is nearly made but the kidnappers try to double cross him. This leads to a chain of events that results in Laura being abducted from the abductors by the tribe. Much nudity ensures with tribe members and Laura exposing their boobs, butts, and bush for much of the film and the wide-eyed mutant showing off his stumpy wiener. All the while poor Peter does what he needs to do to find the girl and attempt to bring her back alive.
As with most Jess Franco flicks, I was a bit confused while watching this (especially in the opening act as the pacing is slow and the editing is all over the place). The camera is placed oddly and zooms in on female genitalia whenever the opportunity presents itself, which is both pervy and comical. After the movie was over, however, I found that the movie stayed with me as it is full of weird scenes and definitely makes an impression, as is the case with most Franco flicks. I am not sure if this is a good thing as a fond memory of a Franco film is sometimes akin to the thought of an ex-girlfriend when you are only thinking about the "good times" and forgetting about all of the shit that she put you through. Maybe I'm being too hard on the guy but from what I have seen so far in his filmography is not a lot of style, a lot of padding, and some key moments that stand out. I think part of the appeal is that he delivers the sleaze in a way that rivals Joe D'Amato and he seems to really be into it himself. He is also able to attract gorgeous ladies and Ursula Fellner is no exception being one of the most attractive that I have seen in a flick like this. She was a Playboy Playmate in 1979 and went directly to this to start a career on the silver screen. Looks like her agent didn't have her best interests at heart.
In the cannibal genre, you can do way better with movies like Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. If you are a fan of Eurosleaze, however, you will be all over this as it delivers in all the ways you would expect it to. If you have seen Porno Holocaust or Erotic Nights of the Living Dead and enjoyed them, you will probably love Devil Hunter. If you want to see a really hot blonde take a bath in a tub that looks like a giant disco ball and spend much of the movie showing off her assets, this is one to check out. If you get a kick out of cheap-looking gore effects and blood that looks more like paint than plasma (I'm talking to you, H.G. Lewis fans), there are parts of this movie for you (including a scene where it appears as though the cannibal eats a woman's labia). If you want to see naked black women move to the beat of the frantic drumming of their multicultural tribesmates who look like they should be part of Santana's backup band at Woodstock, this has something for you. The bottom line is that Jess Franco has built a career on movies like this, his movies usually will give you something to talk about, and he has fans the world over. While his style may be flawed, it is difficult to say he was boring. Exploitation cinema is all about giving the audience what they want. Franco knows this well and delivers the goods on a consistent basis even though you have to endure the incessant zooms and out of focus cinematography to appreciate it. It could be worse; you could rubbing against a naked cannibal for money. (Josh Pasnak, 3/28/14)
Directed By: Jess Franco.
Written By: Julian Esteban, Jess Franco.
Starring: Ursula Fellner (Buchfellner), Al Cliver, Robert Foster (Antonio Mayans), Antonio de Cabo.
aka: El Canibal.