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Devil Hunter

Posted by On August - 22 - 2010
The Plot: Laura Crawford is a professional model and actress who is vacationing in a beautiful resort island location. Things turn out bad for Laura when those closest to her turn out to be kidnappers who take her hostage in order to ransom her off. Laura’s protectors aren’t willing to deal with these psychopathic kidnappers, so they send in Peter Weston (played by genre legend Al Cliver) who is a ex-Vietnam veteran and general toughguy. When Peter finds the jungle where Laura is being held, both groups discover the secret cannibal tribes who inhabit the island. They are lead by a living Cannibal God/King who thrives off of female sacrifices. Will Peter Weston manage to save the beautiful Laura or will she fall victim to this evil cannibal monster!?




The Review
Jesus Franco and I aren’t usually on the same page. Truth be told, I think it is pretty astounding that the man has developed as large of a cult following as he has. His forays into the cannibal genre have so far been pretty far from spectacular. Cannibal Terror (which he co-wrote) and Cannibals are two of the worst cannibal movies that I think the genre has ever produced. I suppose there are SOME glimmers of light in Franco’s filmography that have helped provide him with some cult appeal. Faceless was actually a really well made piece of legitimate horror. Before sitting through Devil Hunter, that was my last Franco piece in quite a while. So, I had that going for me beforehand and this time out Franco actually has a star in his film! The immortal Al Cliver delves back into the world of cannibal cinema, so maybe there would be some legitimate cannibal action and maybe this movie wouldn’t turn out to be quite as lazy and ridiculous as the previously mentioned cannibal movies! Also, maybe someone will donate ten billion dollars to me based solely on my writing abilities as displayed on this website!

Those were some big “maybes” going into Devil Hunter, and so far that donation hasn’t been made and Jesus Franco has not produced a worthy Cannibal title. Certainly not that I have seen! The worst sin that Devil Hunter commits is by being so terribly boring. Despite the intense setting, there is little to no atmosphere to be found. Despite the cannibal menace that should have been shaded in the background, there’s no fear or oppressive terror. Instead, there’s this incredibly clunky story with no real direction. Some of this could be attributed to the pretty horrible English dubbing that I originally watched the film in, but for the most part everyone else involved in this project seems as disinterested in the work as we are. Al Cliver sleep walks through his performance, as does the remainder of the cast and the very tired script boors along at a sluggish pace.

That english dub I mentioned is easily one of the worst I have ever seen for a piece of Italian exploitation. It gives the film a resounding positive effect as the comedic value skyrockets. A similar effect was found in the cannibal spoof Isle of the Damned that was reviewed here on the site last year. Both dubs are dull sounding, hard to hear at times and are so incredibly out of sync with the action on screen that it seems easy to grow lost in the conversations. These bad dubs aren’t something I am all that accustomed to in my exploration of Italian cult cinema. Generally I’ve always found the dubs to be very well made, especially with the better known and more widely released titles. Devil Hunter is entertaining due to the poor production, but it is generally more inept than it is entertaining.

As poor as the film tends to be, there is a case to be made for b-movie film fans. The prosthetic effects used on the Devil God Cannibal King are laughable, to put things lightly. Notoriously cheap, it appears they took this man and super-glued two golf balls where his eyes are and then covered them with latex and paint. The genuine creepy atmosphere that is evoked early on comes due to this character being hidden from our view at all times. Once the cat is out of the bag, the character lacks any disturbing qualities. I’m not one to pick on any gentleman’s lack of manhood, but how does one generate fear when there’s a completely nude black man (who’s eyes look to be made of sports equipment) and let’s just hope that for his sake that these jungle sets were desperately cold. It appears that shrinkage was in high effect as he ran through the breeze here. Although I don’t want this to be a review dedicated to penis discussion, which is about as low a blow as any one man can deal towards another, but a simple towel over this guy’s crotch would have helped me as a viewer stop seeing our monster as so desperately human.

In terms of nudity, our leading monster isn’t the only one shedding it all for the picture. There is an abundance of nudity all throughout Devil Hunter and while that may sound like a good thing, if you’re a teenager at least, but there’s a general lack of eroticism throughout the picture. Simply staring at a woman’s crotch does not neccesarily make your movie erotic. Although Franco is well known for his eroticism, Devil Hunter seems as lazy as your average exploitation title from this time and era.


The Conclusion
Is there really more to say about this movie? For every thing that Franco was able to achieve within this picture, there were two or three pointless scenes to dull down any sense of purpose. There is a word for films such as these, and that is: chore. Devil Hunter is just that. A chore to sit through, and writing this review has seemed equally as much because I don’t like to write out such negative reviews. To be honest, those who will search this title out could probably care less about what I have to say. Cannibal afficianados simply must search this one out to complete their collection. I will say that it’ll be a hard, slow and painful journey for them as well. I give it a 1 out of 5, which is the lowest I have scored anything in a really long time. If it were just SLIGHTLY less boring, Devil Hunter could have been a very average 2. That simply isn’t the case however.



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Raw Force

Posted by On August - 19 - 2010
Review submitted by our good friend Prof. Aglaophotis!


The Plot: The movie introduces us to a mysterious island in the Philipines called Warrior’s Island. Run by a group of cultist monks, Warrior’s Island is a place where the souls of exiled and denounced warriors throughout Earth’s history are venerated and remembered for martial art skills. Through the power of cannibalizing women, the monks are able to bring the warriors back to life originally to protect the island from invaders, but mostly just to straight-up slaughter and murder anyone they come across. The monks are readily fed too because a slave trader named Speer is trading in beautiful young local women for a large supply of jade found in a mine on the island. So what happens when a boat-full of fun-loving, thrill-seeking Americans led by Cameron Mitchell himself stumble into the middle of this craziness? A zany, violent and sexy romp into Filipino Action-sploitation that can only be described… as Raw Force.




The Review
I really need to dig deeper into Filipino cinema; between this and Beast of the Yellow Night, I think I’m hooked. Raw Force is a fun blend of Action, sleaze, humor and Exploitation that, while not entirely seamless in presentation, is a well paced and acted movie. I’ve seen Action movies and games try being action-packed, violent and sleazy while having a sense of humor about themselves, but in a lot of cases they just don’t work. Either the media won’t have enough humor or will find some way to stop the action and ultimately contradict the fun one’s supposed to have. Raw Force has the exact amount of each aspects and themes that all balance out: the movie is cheesy, but never corny, the dialogue doesn’t make you want to kill yourself, the characters aren’t all bastards, the violence is visceral, the music is appropriate to the events and there’s a lot of action beats. Even when there isn’t a lot of action going on, the screen is still lit up by the antics of the tourists or the intense close-up of a naked woman will be looming no too far away in the next frame… it’s almost the perfect Action movie.

The action itself is quite entertaining. There’s a lot of martial arts going in several areas including a bar, a tightly confined ship passenger room and the top of said ship. Like any good martial arts action movie though the end result of the fight scene is often a climactic or clever death which Raw Force has plenty of. Those looking for gunplay in the movie won’t entirely be fulfilled until later on when Speer’s men attack the vacationers in a graveyard with various assault rifles and a bazooka even. Even the scenes where the zombies show up and start attacking the vacationers en masse are exciting and action packed.

Yes, the action scenes are certainly exciting and pretty well choreographed, though they aren’t perfect; the lighting in closed-in action scenes isn’t bright enough to catch all the details and the fighting against the samurai/ninja zombies gets a little incomprehensible. There’s one fight scene where an LA cop woman is fighting with the Kung Fu zombies near the end and while she’s armed, she’s fairly out numbered. However, after swinging her weapons at the zombies… they just randomly backflip away from her into the water around them. Why?? There’s even a scene where one of the main characters grabs a zombie’s sword, by simply pulling it from the zombie’s hands. And these zombies are supposed to be badasses?

Raw Force has a nice share of humor to it. The Speer the slave trader is a German guy with a Hitler mustache whose right hand-man is a stoner who leads his gang of goofy, neon color/hand-me-down wearing pirates, all of whom are serving a group of giggling monks. That alone should be enough to break the Goofy Meter, but I assure you it doesn’t stop there. There’s a birthday boat party scene packed with sexual humor and hijinks, the soundtrack has this silly plinkity-plink sound accompanying the dramatic scores and the boat Captain and owner share a comedic love/hate relationship. The fight scenes are pretty funny too: one random vacationer saves a criminal nympho by drowning her attacker in a toilet after Kung-Fu-ing the Hell out of him. If anything, halfway through the movie many of the zany vacationers are just forgotten about and the audience is forced to follow the main characters as they are forced onto the island.

I mentioned earlier that the movie is pretty sleazy and I wasn’t kidding. The movie starts out with Speer and his gang delivering shanghaied women to the cannibal monks before stripping them naked. Many of the frames in the first half of the movie works-in almost as much female nudity as possible. From then on, the main characters go to a strip club and one of the crew members has a birthday party where almost everyone tries to get into everyone else’s pants. There’s even a fight scene at a bar where a super foxy Filipino woman slow dances nude throughout the entire fight. God bless her.

Cameron Mitchell isn’t too bad in this movie as he plays a tired boat captain who is constantly complaining about its rich cougar of an owner and how unstable the ship is. It’s also worth mentioning that the owner of the boat, Hazel, is played by an executive producer to Space Mutiny (who by the way also isn’t half bad here) which also starred Cameron Mitchell.

Funny enough this movie stars an actor from Plan 9 From Outer Space! Yes, Patrolman Larry stars as a hip, mustachioed and overall hilarious drunk swinger… and he’s actually pretty good. In fact, a lot of the performances are pretty entertaining even from the one-time actors like the head-butting bartender and even the birthday boy on the boat. Vic Diaz shows up in this one and it was nice to see him again, but his role feels more like a cameo, like seeing the maniacal Gabrielle Carrara pop up in a modern Action movie (which would be fantastic, by the way). Vic doesn’t play a smooth talking intelligent Satan this time, but instead spends most of the movie in a monk’s rob giggling away and clapping his hands as zombie samurai rise from the grave… so basically he’s acting how I acted when I first got a strip tease (ahem).

There are a few flops in the movie especially in continuity. There’s a fight scene where a chunky passenger’s hat falls off and reappears on his head during the fight. There’s a lot of abrupt scene cuts in the movie, too, where the music and the laughing of an actor will just stop and cut to the next scene. Also, when the ship is on fire the flames are clearly superimposed over the film as the bottom of the flames – supposedly coming from behind the objects – appear over the objects as the camera moves. I particularly like how every character who gets strangled has their mouth closed when it happens, but the sound of someone gargling their throat with an open mouth is overlaid. Then there’s the fact that a character gets sprayed with gasoline by a pirate, but Cameron Mitchell saves him by firing at the pirate… but firing a gun so close to a gasoline soaked guy would probably light him on fire. Okay, now I’m just nit picking.

Honestly, the only aspect that really gets to me is the fact that this movie ends with a ‘To Be Continued’ title card, but there was no sequel. WHY?! So there’s never going to be an Axelay 2, a Scurge 2 and now there’s no Raw Force 2?? It always makes me sad when the promise of continuation is never delivered.



The Conclusion
Raw Force is a lot of fun both in its exploitation, action and humor. It’s crammed with Kung-Fu, some shooting action, sleaze and goofiness to the point where it could be a great party movie.





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Poster Art for New Sci-fi/Horror: Monsters

Posted by On August - 10 - 2010


Fresh from the inbox, here is the poster art for Monsters, a new science fiction/horror from Magnolia Pictures. In the same vein as District 9 and Cloverfield, this certainly seems promising. Directed by Gareth Edwards, who from what I can tell also does digital FX work, it certainly seems as if this one is going to be quite polished. For those unaware, the plot synopsis is as follows…

Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life forms began to appear and grow. In an effort to stem the destruction that resulted, half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain the massive creatures… Our story begins when a jaded US journalist (McNairy) begrudgingly agrees to find his boss’ daughter, a shaken American tourist (Able) and escort her through the infected zone to the safety of the US border.
I’m pretty hyped up from the still photos shown here:






You can read more about the film from its small website at MonstersFilm.com or you can become a fan on the Facebook page. The release date for theaters comes on October 29th, but you’ll be able to catch it OnDemand September 24th. While you’re at it, you can also check out the following clip to get a better idea of the scope and quality of the project!




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Devilfish

Posted by On August - 9 - 2010
The Plot: A man is found completely mauled near a local beach community, which causes the sheriff (Gianni Garko) to go on the hunt for the shark that is believed to have done this job. Knowing very little about these aquatic monsters, he turns to a group of young oceanographic researchers. This group, lead by Dr. Stella Dickens (Valentine Monnier) and accompanied by Peter (Michael Sopkiw), go out looking for the same beast with a host of technological advancements. Unknown to either group, the shark that they are searching for is no regular great white or tiger shark. This beast is something completely new to mankind. A prehistoric monster who is part shark and part octopus, this monster can crawl on top of boats as well as destroy them from its blunt carnage. How could such a monster have survived after all of these years? And if it is man made, who could have possibly unleashed it upon the world and for what reason?




The Review
Before viewing Devilfish, I was blissfully unaware of the cast for this particular title. My sole knowledge came from seeing it listed amongst Lamberto Bava’s filmography and knowing that it was a Jaws ripoff of sorts. Coming off of my reviews for Blastfighter and Massacre in Dinosaur Valley, it must seem as if I am stalking Michael Sopkiw! I guess my tastes must align with what his were during the eighties, whether that is a good or bad thing is entirely on you I suppose. My main reason for searching out Devilfish however is the fact that it has that name for being a Jaws ripoff. My love for Jawsploitation can only be rivaled by my love of Brucesploitation (the genre of films that feature Bruce Lee imitators pretending to be the legendary actor in new adventures), but Devilfish is a very different piece of Jawsploitation. Despite the stalking fish actually being a legitimate monster this time around, there’s still enough glaringly obvious references to Spielberg’s opus about his Great White. We have the small seaside community placed in a panic over the vengeful beast, we have the sheriff who is put on the case and we even have some of the political back and forth that made Jaws so different from your average horror movie. In fact, the film plays a waiting game similar to the one that Jaws originally did by placing the actual “reveal” of the monster at the back end of the movie. So, knowing just what this is the only question then becomes: is it a worthy ripoff?

Lamberto Bava is a filmmaker that generally splits audiences like the front desk at Samurai Deli. You either love him or hate him, and I am not just regurgitating a cliche line when I say that. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who felt tepid about Lamberto’s career. People are generally very passionate about his work and I’ll be honest, the most passionate ones tend to be those who fall on the side of hating his films. His career is as spotty as they come, with major classics such as A Blade in the Dark right alongside films like Blastfighter. There’s no doubt that his artistic credibility comes into doubt when you look at the amount of garbage he has produced, but the few films of his that I thoroughly enjoy have more than made up for the bad ones. Also, in terms of Eurotrash, Bruno Mattei would be a far less director in my opinion although that filmmaker has no short supply of fans. Regardless, apologizing for Bava is pretty pointless at this juncture as I won’t be following up this paragraph with very many kind words in regards to Devilfish.

As dated as any film possibly could be, Devilfish tends to entertain primarily in its grocery store size allotment of cheese. A pure work of exploitation within the Italian film industry, Bava hits every possible note that he can in order to make his title as lurid and profitable as could possibly be made. We have ample nudity, gore, cheesy FX work and a Eurocult cast that borders on greatness. Valentine Monnier shows up as the leading scientist and she makes the most of it. If you have ever seen 2019: After the Fall of New York, then she will instantly be familiar to you. Although I wouldn’t consider her a classically beautiful woman, she has very intense features that make her stand out and give her a regal beauty that few seem to have. Gianni Garko, who is best known from his Spaghetti Western roles, puts in a amicable performance as the token Sheriff out to stop this rampaging shark. Whether it was the material or director, Garko seems to coast on his charisma throughout the movie. He does it well however and Garko could play a tough law figure in his sleep, and still make it believable! The Varied Celluloid poster boy Michael Sopkiw shows off some legs as he runs around in short-shorts throughout the majority of the film. I like this Sopkiw more than in Blastfighter and he once again gets to show off some attitude making it one of his better roles. Even if the film itself is generally stale.

Devilfish suffers from a slow build up that ultimately goes nowhere. Where Jaws had a riveting second half full of suspense and reveals, Devilfish presents us with an awkward and implausible monster and then proceeds to whimper out as it loses what little steam was developed throughout. My main problem is that the movie has a slightly lazy feel to it. A good example comes from the editing early on, as we watch Bava and his editor try to mix and mash several pieces of stock footage together in order to place a real shark in one of the scenes. The problem is that it is blatantly obvious that the sharks do not match up in size nor in appearance. We go from a fully grown shark of about fourteen foot in length, to a baby shark less than half that size. An audacious piece of editing that should elicit a giggle, but the movie is full of random pieces of strange behavior. The Sharktopus Monster goes from being around five feet in stature during one sequence, to being the gigantic dinosaur that it is claimed to be in just a span of minutes. There is a love affair that Michael Sopkiw’s character takes on with his assistant, and we watch as the movie completely abandons this concept halfway through for no apparent reason. You can just feel the laziness creeping out of the movie as it moves along.


The Trivia
  • Although both actors had limited careers, this turned out to be the second pairing of Michael Sopkiw and Valentine Monnier. The two had both appeared together earlier in Sergio Martino’s 2019: After the Fall of New York.

  • Famed Italian directors Sergio Martino and Luigi Cozzi co-wrote the script under the pseudonyms ‘Martin Dolman’ and ‘Lewis Coates’, respectively.


  • The Conclusion
    Poorly made and executed, Devilfish features quite a few laughable moments throughout. The unintentional comedy and charisma of the cast tend to keep the movie afloat. Although certainly not the best piece of Italian trash that I have in my collection, it is far from the worst. At the end of the day I suppose it does the job as far as a piece of entertainment goes, so who am I to judge? I give it a three out of five. You could do better without a doubt, but you could certainly do a lot worse.



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    Devilfish Review!

    Posted by On August - 9 - 2010
    Just in time for the kids to start heading back to school and the summer to start coming to an end, I decide to take on a classic piece of Jawsploitation! I am a big fan of the genre and if you like bizarre cinema, chances are you are one as well. Directed by Lamberto Bava and starring Varied Celluloid’s apparent mascot Michael Sopkiw, Devilfish may not be the

    The Plot: A man is found completely mauled near a local beach community, which causes the sheriff (Gianni Garko) to go on the hunt for the shark that is believed to have done this job. Knowing very little about these aquatic monsters, he turns to a group of young oceanographic researchers. This group, lead by Dr. Stella Dickens (Valentine Monnier) and accompanied by Peter (Michael Sopkiw), go out looking for the same beast with a host of technological advancements. Unknown to either group, the shark that they are searching for is no regular great white or tiger shark. This beast is something completely new to mankind. A prehistoric monster who is part shark and part octopus, this monster can crawl on top of boats as well as destroy them from its blunt carnage. How could such a monster have survived after all of these years? And if it is man made, who could have possibly unleashed it upon the world and for what reason?





    CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

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    Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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