We all love a good hunter here at eatmybrains.com. A proper hunter, who hunts (preferably in the jungle – like that true hunting hunter from Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals). So when we got our hands on a dodgy DVD-R copy of Jess Franco’s ‘execrable’ Video Nasty film The Devil Hunter, we just knew it had to be seen at Zombie Club. Share the shame and all that. Oh, and it features Al Cliver (as the hunter!), which meant we found ourselves in the bizarre situation of two successive Al Cliver Zombie Clubs, which seemed to go down well with Jim and Zomblee at least.
So what to go with for this very special Night of the Hunter? Spacehunter was deemed too futuristic, The Deer Hunter simply far too good, so instead we turned to Antonio Margheriti’s The Apocalypse Deer Hunter Now rip-off The Last Hunter featuring David Warbeck on a top secret Vietnam mission to blow up a radio station. Luckily, this film doesn’t feature Al Cliver. Gentlemen - let the hunt begin…
Brought to you in association with Rawshark and the Al Cliver non-Appreciation Society.
The Last Hunter (1980)
Plot Captain Harry Morris is sent on a special mission to locate and shut off a subversive radio message in V.C. territory in 1973.
Rawshark Taking it’s cue from Apocalypse Now, The Last Hunter opens in Saigon in a brothel where several US soldiers are relaxing under the ceiling fans. Suddenly an argument breaks out and blam! – soldier Steve kills the Vincent D'Onofrio look-alike before blowing his own brains out with proper gunfire light in the mouth and everything! Soon the whole place is being blown apart and David Warbeck, 'hero soldier', just manages to escape through lots of spectacular explosion action. "Starts really well…," said Zomblee.
It certainly does and carries on that way too, because as soon as the post-intro BIG RED CREDITS roll, we're thrust straight into the mission proper as David Warbeck is dropped off in the heart of the jungle from a helicopter (after an eye-spurting ground-to-air shoot out naturally). Unfortunately as Warbeck swims to the riverbank, he comes across a snake and after a brief fight (" Fight Dave! Go on Dave, fight that damn snake!" – Jim), Warbeck manages to lose not only the fight, but also his gun and all his kit in the process. Stupid fool.
Luckily he then meets up with his contact, Midnight and Tisa Farrow, a war photographer and off they troop to get involved in lots of incidents (baby bomb), and traps (gore!) before they reach a US base which seems to have been converted into a Nite Club. Here, Sergeant Moustache ("He likes saying ‘fat farts’" - Zomblee) listens to tape recordings of gunfire and allows his soldiers to kick back, smoke dope, drink beers and dream of women with red fingernails. Oh, and they also have to do the crazy suicidal coconut run - Benny-Hill-style - if they get caught trying to rape war photographers.
Eventually we find out what Warbeck’s mission actually is, Midnight is killed (quite horribly) and Warbeck and Tisa Farrow identify and destroy ‘Easter Egg’ and escape the clutches of the VC (Warbeck to Farrow - “If you see anything, just yell!” Jim – “Yeah, yell ye-yaa-laaa!”) before the film heads happily towards it’s half-happy ending. All in all, this film is great low-budget action fun that had Jim and Zomblee cheering Warbeck along all the way – “Good one Dave”, “Nice flame-thrower Dave!”” - with many a well-handled action sequence, extreme bloodshed and some very strange yet funny set-pieces. Definitely check it out.
“I know what they’re up to. I know exactly what they’re up to. I can see the writing on their balls.”
Jim You know, it appears to me that all you need to make a cheapo Vietnam War flick is a load of explosives, a few guns, at least one military helicopter and a bunch of return tickets to the Philippines where they don’t mind if you blow up a load of stuff. You also need a charismatic lead and a black sidekick who’s obviously going to get killed although I suppose he’s optional, it’s mostly the charismatic lead you need, preferably one who’s so well known you don’t need to know the character’s name. “Like Charlton Heston – name one character Charlton Heston has ever played! Err, except Ben Hur. And Moses…” – Zomblee.
David Warbeck is such a man. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t stress about losing all his gear in a fight with a minute killer snake because he’s so hard he doesn’t need it (a bit like Rambo), and one that only ever sports a pistol even when there are plenty of guns lying around next to all the dead bad guys he’s killed. He’s also the kind of guy who says things like “Cover me!” before running through a hail of Viet Cong bullets unscathed, performing a dodgy combat roll and shooting a couple of VC point blank range. Yes – with a pistol.
That happens a lot in The Last Hunter actually, tonnes of running around dodging bullet sprays and blowing things up. And I suppose the movie is better for it as it does keep your attention, although the plot does stray a tad when they get to the US base. The boss has a moustache (“He must be the boss, he has a moustache…” – Rawshark) and runs a nightclub in a cave called ‘Sector 7’, although it has “rubbish walls” (Zomblee) which leave it susceptible to VC attack. This not good news for that stoned guy in the corner (“Oh no – a really stoned guy!” – Zomblee).
Still, the ending picks up with a great last stand for Midnight, although as Rawshark says “This guy’s unlucky isn’t he? He’s had a flesh wound, a leg broken and all the skin bitten off his ass!” Then it’s just explosion, helicopter, shooting, death and repeat for ages, which is “nice editing, because it actually makes sense…” – Zomblee. Shame about that girl from Zombie Creeping Flesh having to ruin things for our man Warbeck, but I guess you can’t have everything.
“Where did you pick up you such a rotten, unchristianlike attitude?”
Zomblee Yes, that's the highly awful Magrit Evelyn Newton from the highly awful Zombie Creeping Flesh, complete with crazy eyes and whatever that stuff is the make-up department slap over your face to make it look like you've been in the jungle for ages. She's the one responsible for sending out subversive, anti-war messages which order the US troops to go home. But why on earth would they want to go home when they have a chance of seeing the mighty, sweat-sheened David WARbeck in action. "Gather all the troops, you gotta see this - it's the zombie-fighting guy from The Beyond wrestling a snake!"
The Charlton Heston thing that Jim mentions above came from when Tisa Farrow (sister of the somewhat more successful Mia) first appears in the film and Rawshark said, "She's just... Tisa Farrow". Damn it he's right - she's as bland as they come folks, and nowhere near as attractive as her sis. I've always believed that Tisa and Al Cliver should've gotten hitched when they met on Zombie Flesh Eaters. They would make a great couple, passing their time by trying to figure out where they can acquire some charisma.
Big Al isn't in this film though, and if he were he'd sure have trouble negotiating all those fallen trees that carpet the jungle floor ("I love it when the troops have to step over big logs!" - Jim). More on that later. Al Cliver really has no place here - this jungle belongs to WARbeck and by God I think he's loving it. Where else would he get the chance to run about (jumping over those big logs) in macho-mode, pistol in hand and wearing tight green vest-themed army surplus whilst acting a bit like a more heroic version of Martin Sheen in that movie with the fat bald guy in the cave?
The Last Hunter is a great little film. It's a horror film fan's perfect war movie. As well as administration of some truly unpleasant gore content, Maghereti's flair for handling massive-scale (if you happen to be a miniature helicopter) explosions is genuinely impressive, which comes in handy when shooting in the Philippines where, as Jim says, they don't mind you blowing everything up. Some of the soldier characters on offer here are rendered more colourful with the aid of those silly lines they sometimes have to say but as you are all no doubt aware this is part and the Italian b-movie script experience.
As if the characters' lines weren't ridiculous enough, yours truly had to sit and listen to these two dead heads saying stuff like, "You'd have to be really good in Vietnam." (Rawshark) and "No way, I'd be way too busy getting wasted!" (Jim)
"Listen, sweetheart. I've been here too long. I don't know what's good or bad anymore, don't know who my friends or enemies are. But I don't enjoy it."
Director Antonio Margheriti
Cast David Warbeck
Margit Evelyn Newton
Runtime 98 mins
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The Devil Hunter (1980)
Plot Laura Crawford gets kidnapped and Al Cliver kicks the ping-pong (eye)ball monster in the goolies.
Zomblee The first 15 minutes of The Devil Hunter is extremely slow though liberally peppered with as much gratuitous nudity as most horror fans could handle. Despite the numerous breasts on show ("I don't think there has been a scene yet where there hasn't been at least a nipple" - Rawshark), it's still incredibly boring, so much so that instead of watching, we found ourselves debating over how to correctly pronounce 'Cliver' ("Ok, you say 'Cleever', I say 'Cliver'"). Where did he get that surname?
So... Devil Hunter. What's it all about? A bunch of nasty people kidnap a movie star and take her to a jungle where a crazy cannibal with ping-pong balls glued over his eyes is enjoying suitably savage ceremonies that involve eating the flesh of naked women, probably virgins, who are appropriately tied up to a big stick. When I say "eating the flesh", I of course mean picking a bit of red "used" chewing gum off her skin and rubbing it around his teeth for an extraordinarily long amount of time, as if trying to gross us out.
This is where Al Cliver comes into it. He's offered 10% of the $6M ransom money to deliver the said ransom and get the dame back in one piece, so off he pops to the jungle with his nice moustache and an unwisely selected pilot who hates jungles. And probably flying too: "Dammit, I can't take it anymore!" Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. So, we've got Al Cliver and someone pathetic running around the jungle. Jim's hoping for some "Indiana Jones stuff" but you know there's little chance of anything quite so spectacular happening in this woeful Jess Franco duffer.
What does happen however is something that we not only didn't expect, but also almost completely missed first time. This is when Jim said the line that changed my life; "Did Al Cliver just fall over?!" Quicker than Billy the Kid's pistol-draw, I had that remote in my hand, finger fully engaged with the well-worn rewind button and lo and behold, Al Cliver really did take a tumble. Not on purpose you understand - he just stumbled, clumsily, went down, then the camera pans to the left to give him the chance to clamber to his feet as ungracefully as he went down. Why Franco didn't re-shoot this is anyone's guess but we were all extremely grateful that he left "The Al Cliver Fall" in The Devil Hunter (who falls down).
I've given one star extra for Cliver's fall.
"What strange footprints. Whose can they be? They look hardly human!"
Jim But you’ve only given it one star. Oh I see, gotcha.
Zomblee wasn’t so negative at the start, though. “Oooh look, it’s got a helicopter on it,” he said, referring to the DVD cover expectantly, like having the budget for a chopper scene actually ensures movie quality. With the benefit of hindsight we now know that’s not true - The Devil Hunter is one long farcical sequence of rubbish after another.
The film opens with a naked woman in a bath tub, before following a German looking woman walking down the street. Then we have one of the first of many ping-pong rape scenes. The guy growls with ping-pong eyeball enhanced rage, the girl tied to a stake screams and the camera lingers on her pubic region. What’s that got to do with the German woman or the bath tub I'll never know, but all the same “there’s really no need to linger on the pubic region…” (Rawshark) “And that region shall be known as the pubic region forever more…” Yes Zomblee I think it will - Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals has a lot to answer for.
Next up, Al Cliver. He’s offered all that money, but initially tries to scam them for more. He was playing hard to get you see, “yeah, like the plot!” You'd be right about that Zomblee. Mind you, Rawshark was also right when he pointed out that Al had “nice boots”, ideal for tracking ping pong eyed cannibals with. Shame the budget couldn’t stretch to equipping everyone with machetes for the many jungle trekking sequences. “C’mon, at least hack something!” Sorry Rawshark, the only hacking is the sound of me choking on my drink as Zomblee whips out his phone to record Al falling over.
They don’t get much worse than this folks. As Zomblee pointed out, “I don’t think even Al Cliver can save this one.” And Rawshark had more to say on the subject - “You know you’re in trouble when you’re calling on Al Cliver to save it!”
Shit, had our taste in movies really sunk so low? Was the highlight of the film really Al Cliver stumbling? What about that crap head falling off shot? Or perhaps scene after scene of “the worst blood in the world…” (Rawshark) just wore us down. Either way I think I might stay out of the jungle for a while…
“Be careful Peter, looks like a trap to me…”
Rawshark For me, The Devil Hunter has always been one of the Video Nasties that has always been tantalisingly out of reach. Sure, every review I’ve ever read of the film has damned it to death, but because Devil Hunter has never really been available in any format other than the original VHS release, my curiosity for this film has always been high. Jess Franco does ample nudity with a terrible monster in the Jungle and Al Cliver – surely it couldn’t be all that bad. So when a dodgy DVD-R appeared before my eyes at a recent film fair I snapped it up in a second, certain that at the very least it would make a good Zombie Club movie. Unfortunately this is one of those cases where not only did curiosity kill the cat, it staked it out and cold-bloodedly tortured it over and over again. And then killed it. Many times.
It’s difficult to overstate how bad this film actually is. From the awful ping-pong ball make-up of the monster, to the countless (and needless) crash zooms to nowhere, ‘crazy vision’ shots (“That’s what it looks like when you look through Ping-Pong balls - Zomblee), through to the universally awful acting and pure shite gore effects this film really does confirm that Al Cliver (Cleever / Cliver who cares?) really is perhaps the worst leading actor in film history.
The monster eating flesh scene is terrible (“That’s the worst gore I’ve ever seen” - Jim) and the blood all throughout the film is a garish pink. Then there’s scene where someone’s head falls off (“That’s the worst head falling off I’ve ever seen - Zomblee) and the final climactic fight in the sea is, yes you guessed it, the ”worst fight scene we’ve ever seen” (all three of us in unison) with blob-blob sound effects and a final death strike whereby Al Cliver kills the kidnapper by smashing his head against the rocks very, very gently. Don’t even get me started on that final climactic cliff-top battle between Cliver and the 'Devil' (“Did someone just fall off the cliff then?” – Zomblee).
DO NOT watch this film. Save yourself the trouble and ask Zomblee nicely to see his mobile phone clip of Al falling over. It really is the best two seconds of the whole movie.
“Damn shit!” “Flowers shit! Jungle shit!”
Director Jesus Franco
Cast Al Cliver
Antonio de Cabo
Runtime 85 mins
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I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry for bringing The Devil Hunter to this latest Zombie Club. I really am sorry. There, have I apologised enough for this film yet?
So to sum up, The Last Hunter - good. The Devil Hunter - bad. Very bad. Very, very, very bad. I’m so sorry.