Italian horror film regular Al Cliver gets to battle ruthless kidnappers, savage natives and a rather unconvincing demon on a remote tropical Island in Jess Franco's DEVIL HUNTER which makes it's UK Blu-Ray debut this month from 88 Films.
A group of kidnappers abduct a wealthy glamour model whilst visiting South America and take her to a remote island (actually a forest in Spain), where they demand a huge ransom from her agent.
Notwithstanding, the agent instead hires a former vietnam vet, played by Al Cliver (The Beyond, Zombie Flesh Eaters), to go in and get her back.
Unfortunately, he ends up not only battling the gangsters, as he attempts to rescue her, but also a savage tribe of rather dubious looking "natives". Many of which are white and have dodgy 70s hairstyles and moustaches. As well as a rather unconvincing "demon" that they worship, which is essentially a naked black man, with ping pong balls for eyes.
Once banned in the UK as a Video Nasty, though god knows why, DEVIL HUNTER is your typical Jess Franco pot boiler, which ranks right up with the likes of White Cannibal Queen in terms of "production values".
This is the first time the film has been released to Blu-Ray in the UK and picture quality is a vast improvement over the previous DVD release from Severin films, which was way too dark. Indeed, this version is so polished, you can clearly see the pimples on the native women's backsides (no SERIOUSLY) though that's not to say the picture is faultless. With some scenes boasting excessive grain and are overly soft, though this was undoubtedly a problem with the original elements.
Also, the English audio seemed overly loud on this and had to drasticly turn down the volume on my TV to avoid being blasted accross the room. However it seems this was also a problem on the old Severin DVD, so is obviously something to do with the original audio. However it seems like a missed opportunity not to try and correct this for this release.
It should also be noted that the previous Severin disc had a couple of extra scenes with the kidnappers, which were not on earlier English language releases. However these were in Spanish language only. These scenes, which occur around the 1hr 10m mark, are also included in this release. BUT there are no English subtitles. Whilst the disc does contain English subs for the hard of hearing, switching the sub-title track on for these scenes simply displays the caption "[Speaks Foreign Language]", which is a bit of a poor show.
As for extras, those who own the previous Severin disc may remember that included an Interview with the director. That has not been included here, instead we get a 50minute documentary entitled "Franco-Philes", in which film journalist John Martin, Sitges Film Festival organiser Mike Hostench; Fangoria editor and writer Tony Timpone and many others examine the maverick career of Director Jess Franco,
To summarise, this release is a vast improvement picture wise over previous releases, but is really only one for Jess Franco fans, or Video Nasty collectors as I doubt mainstream movie fans will appreciate Franco's "unique" style of film making.
Buy the UK BD from Amazon.co.uk