A series of reviews and random bits of pop culture ephemera that I'm watching, reading, listening to or whatever.
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Directed by S. Edwin Graham
Something Weird VHS
I think I knew that they’ve made movies this goofy across the 20th century. I just never really stumbled across one. When I watch very old films, I’m generally after classics or a film by someone whose work I know. Devil Monster is probably one of the clearest, purest examples of the kind of thing we love at Bleeding Skull. Untouched by irony or any trends of its time (apart from pure, sweet exploitation), this film darts along doing something absolutely astounding, head-shaking or just plain Loony every single minute of its just-a-little-over-an-hour running time.
San Pedro or San Pietro is the initial setting. Robert loves a gal. But, she loves Jose. Jose went missing some time ago. So, Robert joins his Dad on a “tuna trip” to search the South Seas and find out what happened to Jose. And, they travel. And, they meet natives and they fight the Devil Monster and it’s a constant burst of odd invention that resembles your Grandpa’s version of A Night To Dismember. A film cobbled together from all over the place to reach feature length.
First off, it’s all post dubbed and the soundtrack is so disasociated that I almost think that someone added the dub in years later. From their outfits and hairstyles, I think early to mid-30s. But, I’ve seen 1946 listed as the year of production. The footage with humans was not shot in 1946. It feels like some sort of “Young Man’s Adventure” that has gone straight to Insane Town. Maybe it’s filmed in 1946 but set in the 30s?
Second, and this is the kicker, there is a lot of stock footage. A lot of stock footage. Once they hit the sea, there is a long, long stretch of Robert narrating travel footage. He talks and talks. And, oddly enough, we see some topless native girls, which is, frankly, surprising. Most of this footage seems to have been shot silent. I mean, silent as in “Silent Movie Era”. Just the way people move in the footage…they are at the same speed as silent films.
You know in Night Of The Zombies (Italian) when we see stock footage nowhere near the actors but the actors are supposed to be right there? This film does that…Footage of South Sea Natives hanging out is shown and Robert concocts all sorts of stories around their “interaction” with them. A man is shown waving madly at the camera and it becomes an invitation from a tribal chief to watch people swim. Then, we go to the underwater (or outside the aquarium) camera. Even though it’s all underwater, Robert knows the exact details of everything that’s happening.
More than half the film is stock footage. I would say that trumps Jungle Hell. The movie has its own plot and tells its own story but it’s all joined to the wonderful stock footage in one big Stew of Adventure. After a time, especially in that first barrage, the sheer audacity of all the stock stuff is astounding. Who would have watched this? Someone who wanted to see bare breasts for a few seconds? Possibly. But, I like to think that there was someone like me back then. Someone who was wandering into theaters hoping that they’d see something really, really strange. Dale Burlap? Dave Bouffet? Have you seen this movie? Did you love it?
AUDIO AND VIDEO
Looks and sounds terrible. But, who cares? At some points, whole chunks of the film are missing as Robert’s narration hops ahead bit by bit. Where’s my Blu-Ray?
I have the tape from SWV. There is a montage of their titles at the beginning and at the end. That’s it.
Insanity of the Finest grade, as fine as my first pair of long pants. This movie appeared in my life, left me dumbfounded and then asked me to watch again. They were really as nutty then as we are now. Thank God for exploitation.