Not every movie on the Video Nasty List is easy to find. In fact, some of them are nearly impossible. The Devil Hunter was one that didn't take bribery, black market smuggling and subterfuge, but merely my thinking cap. This flick happens to be featured on Volume 4 of the Anthology DVD Set known as "Terror Tales" (along with Vudú sangriento). One issue here is that these were released by a company called "VideoAsia", which is closely related to a company called "Fortune 5". Both of these have been described as "Bootleg" companies. While both appear to be legitimately legal companies (both under the umbrella, at least in the USA, of the Golden Media Group), the term "Bootleg" is perfectly legitimate for what they do. Like Fortune 5's "Grindhouse Experience" boxed set, Terror Tales Vol 4 features a really bad video transfer, most likely from a VHS source (or, possibly, VCD), making for a remarkably poor viewing experience.
Why bitch about this? Isn't any available DVD release better than none at all? Of course it is. Hell, I've paid for literal bootleg DVDs, as well as DVDs transferred from grainy, scratched and badly spliced film sources. I've even paid for bad bootleg VHS rips of bad VHS copies of badly spliced film sources. Hell and damn and hell again, I've paid for badly spliced film before.
But in the case of The Devil Hunter there are a few other issues worth noting. It's illegal in Japan to show genitalia, especially during sex acts (even in hardcore porn). Like many films in the Cannibal Exploitation genre, there is a veritable ton of nudity here, including pubic hair and that which pubic hair frames. As in many Japanese prints and video releases the "Frontal" nudity is obscured by a digitized Mosaic. We also see an odd bit of framing here, with the lower black band appearing to be much larger than the upper black band of the letterbox.
What this probably means is that VideoAsia took not a US or European version of the film, but a version they were able to obtain in Japan easily, then covered the Japanese Subtitles with the lower half of the letterbox. Further, the digitization of the pubic areas was handled none too skillfully, as if the lowest bidder got crotch duty. Look, I respect Japanese Law and everything, but from a purely non-lecherous point of view, this is very distracting and image obscuring, blocking out large percentages of the scenery for no other reason than to blur the slightest glance of a dark triangle.
Again, seeing it this way is better than not seeing it at all. In fact, if this version had not been available, I would have done what I had to do with several others on my "Red List"... buy what ever uncut version I could find in any format I could get my hands on... including a crappily transferred, badly subtitled foreign release. The thing is... this isn't a bootleg... it just looks and sounds like one and before anyone picks up a copy of this film expecting the full-on Anchor Bay, Shriek Show or Blue Underground treatment, they should be aware of what they're getting into.
As I indicated earlier, very little could be done to save Sexo Canibal, with or without censored nudity, with or without quality video transfers. The image was worsened by the video transfer, but it wasn't perfect to begin with considering the bad lighting, repetitive editing, oddball, absent minded re-focuses and all manner of other bed choices.
What's more, Sexo Canibal is just about as derivative as can be. Prisoner of the Cannibal God, I Walked with a Zombie, Deep River Savages and Ultimo Mondo Cannibale are all mined for material. It even strongly resembles Terreur cannibale from the following year, cowritten by none other than Jess Franco himself, proving that he's not above ripping even himself off!
The story (by Franco with screen writer Julián Esteban), if you can call it a story (and if you can call Julián Esteban a screen writer) concerns one of the top models of Europe who, in proper Jesus Franco style, is very commonly naked (and digitized). When she's not covered up by a prudish mosaic she's hot blonde Laura Crawford, as portrayed by hot blonde Ursula Buchfellner. Out of bra-loads of jealousy and a pile of greed that Gordon Gekko himself would tip his hat to, fellow hot blonde Jane (Gisela Hahn) helps set in motion a kidnapping plot to snatch Laura's snatch (censored though it may be) and hold her hostage in a cannibal infested jungle until the dickweeds pay up. Great hiding place, by the way. Say, why not plan a swimming trip... to AMITY ISLAND? Morons.
No accounting for Jane's dumb ass, or her dumb ass friends like Antonio de Cabo's Thomas, Werner Pochath's Chris and Melo Costa's Pablito! I guess they're just happy they have a hot, famous model tied up to a tree to rape and torture in the jungle. Man, I hate those guys!
The joke's on them, though, because the cannibal tribe near them also has a Cannibal God. Or, in this case, the devil, as played by Burt Altman. This guy is already tying women to trees and raping them (amongst other things). How he gets away with this is questionable. In fact, seeing as how he comes across like a cheap day-after-halloween-make-up version of the title monster from I Walked With A Zombie, I'm not even sure how he can see. I'm thinking that his victim women are wooed into a state of sexual passivity and fear by the very hot, very naked and actually scary Cannibal Priestess played by Aline Mess. This woman... man... she does a sexy dance in front of them while they're naked, then takes them to a secluded lagoon with other hot naked women and bathes them, then ties them up. I'm thinking even straight women would feel just a little bi-curious with all that going on.
And it's somewhere around that point that our two bumbling "heroes" fly their helicopter into the jungle, hoping to bribe the bad guys into letting poor Laura go. First you've got the obviously bored Al Cliver butchering his way through his part as Vietnam Vet Peter Weston. Then you've got his paranoid Vietnam War buddy Jack, played by Antonio Mayans, who is still in Saigon in his mind! Fucko and Stillborn manage to pad the film out handily by showing those two guys fuck up, then showing the bad guys fuck up and so on and so on until we all wonder why we're not rooting for the Cannibals. (Well, I was already rooting for their priestess, but...)
And as always, when Franco finds himself painted into a story corner he just adds in some nice nudity from some truly lovely females of the day! This may say quite a lot for Franco's taste, but it doesn't say too much for his writing. Here's a case in point. For unknown reasons an underdeveloped character, played by Muriel Montossé finds herself on the yacht of the forlorn foursome and decides to help the Vietnam Valium duo. When they arrive to investigate, she's just bouncing around the cabin of the ship wearing only a string bikini bottom. No reason for it, she just is topless. Later, when the boys are safely aboard and they all three start becoming allies, she remains blissfully topless through every second of it. Because she leaves her bottoms on the Japanese Censors didn't get all mosaic happy on her petite prettiness. Just so you'll see how much Franco thought of Muriel Montossé's nude McGuffin, she's credited as "Girl on Yacht".
You're a real Gent, Jess, you know that?
But that's Franco for you! He's made few truly quality films, but he always manages to convince his actresses to get naked whether there is a logical reason or not. What I wouldn't give to visit him on Location. "Okay, cut... print that. Darling, you were great. I want to take one more take of you haggling over the used car you're buying, but this time... I'm thinking you should have your jeans around your ankles... and... Hmmm... maybe your sweater pulled up to your shoulders? Lovely! Let's do that. ACTION! Okay, cut, print! Call me crazy, but this is just working for me! How about you just do the scene naked? Cool? Cool. Ah, why not, this next scene in the supermarket, you stay naked for that one if this scene works. Then for your job interview... then when you go to confession... then..."
Why the man didn't just start making porn I'll never know. The man has the magic touch, as you can see... or can you through the Mosaic pixelization. Fuckers!
Anyway, if you've seen any Cannibal Exploitation flick, you've seen this one, and it's terrible. All kinds of stupid crap keeps happeneing in virtually every frame while Franco distracts us with Flesh! Hell the cannibals do just about everything short of ACTUALLY EATING PEOPLE! The Devil does, at one point, seem to be performing oral sex (though he looks to be really bad at it), and that's about the extent of the People Eating here.
Sure looks strange to me. Jess and Julian (who went under the pseudonyms Julius Varley and Clifford Brown in the credits) sure have managed to evoke fond memories of better movies than this. It's just too bad they didn't capture the things that really made them good (if they even were) and it's really too bad that these moments come off like ripp offs, not tributes. Seriously, man... those Zombie Eyes... Those horrible, horrible... And then, of course, the Japanese Censors had to ruin the remaining reasons to watch this film. Ah, well... know what you're getting into! It's a bad Exploitation Flick with pixelated crotches, bare asses and bouncing, naked breasts (when the rolling squares don't cover those up too), it's a Cannibal Mess, it's a Video Nasty, it's a Franco Flick... it's a DOG!
It's grainy, it's blurry, it's digitized, it's nasty, it's cheap...
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