I had previously researched Devil Hunter for Italian Week some year's ago. These were my thoughts at that time. We'll give you the quick run down below and let you know if anything changed.
1980 was a good year for the cannibal genre. Most of the kinks seemed to be worked out and the formula had been well established by the likes of Lenzi and Deodato. When Jess Franco and Joe D’Amato get into the mix they started “porning it up”. It’s not enough to have a bunch of naked tribal folk running around trying to eat you; there’s the pressure of sexual intercourse in a savage land. While I can clearly say that Franco is a porn director (and I’ll have words with those of you who would like to tell me different) this movie is on target.
The film quality is classic early 80’s VHS transfer. The organ music ala Tales from the Crypt/Blood feast doesn't fit the genre. We saw this in Eaten Alive! And a few other i-cannibal entries. When will these directors learn that the music should fit the setting? It’s not a pet peeve because I rather enjoy it, but I bet at least twenty percent of the success of Cannibal Holocaust can be attributed to its fitting score. Not to stay its pure tribal, but it’s avant-garde, dark and non-classical. Still, the organ seems to work for this one and almost (this is a big leap of faith her kiddies) sounds a bit like the beginning of Nightmare on Elm St. 3.
Naked rich people in their native environment juxtaposed with cannibals in their woodland habitat. Talk about setting the stage. This entry seems a lot like the Carnival of Souls of Cannibal flicks with its obscure almost non sequitur scenes. Female cannibals dancing like the women of New Wave Hookers from the classic Dark Brother porn entry? This doesn’t scream continuity (neither did Carnival of Souls). Combine the unsettling combination of rich and uncharacteristically hip natives, throw in a slightly higher rape and molestation count, stir in a bug-eyed native and give it the aura of a Nam flashback. It kind of comes off like a bunch of teenagers discovered their parents 8mm camera and decided to make a movie to show off their girlfriend’s naked bodies. Where is the intriguing blood? Where are the animals being slaughtered for the sake of art? Why is that vagina making that echo-esque/deep breathing sound!? This shot is either a. shot by a perve being flat out pervey. Or b. the vagina is actually deep breathing and this is proof on high quality celluloid and audio equipment.
To quote John Stewart, “You’re moment of Zen”: “I hate the jungle and this humidity”.
So after lots of screaming and about as much blood as pre-H.G. Lewis fare with more naked people than a nudist colony... the plot never bore any fruit. You know something though; if you can't like the characters, enjoy the effects. If they suck, enjoy the naked people and if they overdo that (and they do) enjoy the music … and when you've heard all the music... get the robots from MST3K out.
(End old entry)
Thoughts today. A. This is simply a cannibal movie, not an Italian picture, but it's inclusion in the list of cannibal movies was important none the less. It's not perfect. It's not my favorite cannibal film. It has some elements that work for it and it's all Franco! Once you understand what Franco does and how he does it and you put your brain in Franco mode, this movie is quite good. If you watch this thinking you're going to get Cannibal Holocaust on a stick... you will fail.
The Players: Overdramatic acting that is categorical of the genre and time period as well as the country of origin. You're gonna love it Jess Franco fans.
The Scare: Cannibal movies done scare. They disgust. This is doesn't really get there. It seduces. That's Franco.
The B(lood) & G(ore): Eh... not enough. Moving on.
The Ta’s: This movie was made to show you vagina. This movie loves to show naked people. From that perspective it must be the iconic cannibal movie of the decade.
The Family Plot: Nice twist on the fish out of water (in the jungle being eaten) thread.
The Finish: These things all end the same. Someone goes home hungry. The other goes home lunch.
The Art: Traditional. Nothing new here.
The Tech and Extras: It's Severin which means they give you a great title and not much else. Enjoy the movie and the Franco interview.
The Scope: All cannibal movies up until about 1982 were important in driving the genre. They pushed boundaries added twists, layers and general made head roads into what it meant to be a gonzo gore sex filmmaker in Europe. Unfortunately this is about the end of the cannibal cycle and Devil Hunter will be up against Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Holocaust, two of the best know of the cannibals films.
From DiabolikDVD about the release/plot:
Re-Mastered In High-Definition And Featuring An All-New Interview With Jess Franco!
King Of EuroSleaze Jess Franco (BLOODY MOON, MACUMBA SEXUAL) takes on the ‘80s Cannibal genre and delivers a jungle sickie like no other! When a safari of sexy babes and violent boneheads ventures into native-crazed wilderness, Uncle Jess unleashes a deluge of relentless nudity, dubious anthropology and his own brand of cut-rate carnage. Ursula Fellner (SADOMANIA), Al Cliver (ZOMBIE), Robert Foster (CANNIBAL TERROR) and Gisela Hahn (CONTAMINATION) co-star in this original ‘Video Nasty’ – also tastefully known as SEXO CANNIBAL and MANDINGO MANHUNTER – with something to offend everyone, now fully restored from the original Spanish negative and presented uncut and uncensored for the first time ever in America!
“OVER-THE-TOP PERVERSITY! A Film That Manages To Tap Into Race Exploitation, Sex Exploitation, Cannibal Exploitation And Shock Exploitation!” – Black Horror Movies
NTSC All Region
Sexo Cannibal - Featurette with Director Jess Franco
You can order from DiabolikDVD at the link above. Support the little guy. If you prefer, I've also included an Amazon link below. Make sure to visit the Severin Films website to see the newest material they'll have coming soon.