Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 18th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: West Germany, December 5th, 1980
Director: Jesus Franco
Writers: Julián Esteban, Jesus Franco
Cast: Ursula Buchfellner, Al Cliver, Antonio Mayans, Antonio de Cabo, Burt Altman, Gisela Hahn, Muriel Montossé, Werner Pochath, Melo Costa, Aline Mess, Claude Boisson, Tibi Costa, Óscar Cortina, Ana Paula
DVD released: October 28th, 2008
Approximate running time: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono French
DVD Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: A model is kidnapped and held for ransom on Remote Island, inhabited by cannibals.
Shortly after making Cannibals, Jess Franco would return to the cannibal film genre with The Devil Hunter. Visually The Devil Hunter is a more polished production than its predecessor Cannibals. Jess Franco more than any other filmmaker has mastered the art of making something out of nothing. The film is not that dialog heavy with the bulk of the story being endless shots of the various characters working their way through the jungle terrain and doing the most mundane things. This is not to say that the story is not engaging. Despite the minimal plot Franco still somehow manages to keeps things lively and entertaining throughout. This is where the film’s cannibal, torture and moments of nudity come into play. Also depending on which audio mix you choose English or French the tone of the film is drastically different. The English dubbed audio mix features some deliriously awful dialog that unintentionally adds humor to the film.
The film’s two leading men Al Cliver and Robert Foster (Antonio Mayans) both appeared in Jess Franco’s Cannibals. Ursula Buchfellner (a Playboy playmate) is cast as Laura Crawford the kidnapped model. Besides The Devil Hunter she would work with Jess Franco on two other films Linda and Sadomanía. Another performance of note is Muriel Montossé who worked with Jess Franco on several films including Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties, Cecilia and The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle. When it was originally released The Devil Hunter gained some notoriety as video nasty with it was banned in the UK. The cannibal scenes The Devil Hunter are pretty tame even when compared to Cannibals. Ultimately The Devil Hunter is more of jungle adventure with the moments of cannibalism thrown in as an afterthought.
Severin Film’s presents The Devil Hunter in an anamorphic widescreen that retains the film’s original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. For this DVD release Severin Film’s have put together a new cut of the film that clock’s in about 102 minutes. The source materials used for Severin Film’s transfer are in great shape with nicely saturated colors and healthy looking flesh tones. There are some minor instances were the transfer looks a tad too soft. This is during the darker/nighttime scenes. Even though this transfer is interlaced the image remains stable throughout. There is no blurring or ghosting issues during playback. There are two previous DVD releases of The Devil Hunter that I know of. The now OOP German DVD release from Laser Paradise (which only came with a German audio option) and the region 1 abomination from Videoasia that looked like it was ripped from a VHS source. By far and away Severin Film’s transfer is the best this film has ever looked on home video.
For this release two audio options have been include English and French. Both audio mixes are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. There are a few instances where the English audio sounds muffled. Besides this minor flaw the English audio is more than adequate in getting the job done. The French audio mix is in the better shape of the two audio mixes. It is clear and free of any distortion or background noise. The French audio mix comes with removable English subtitles. No subtitles have been included with the English audio mix which includes one scene that is not in English.
Extras for this release is limited to a seventeen minute interview with Jess Franco titled “Sexo Canibal” which is in English and it comes with English subtitles. Jess Franco discuses working with amateurs’ verses professional actors, working with actress Ursula Buchfellner, the cannibal film genre and director Ruggero Deodato. Overall Severin Film’s gives The Devil Hunter its best release to date.