Friday, October 2, 2009

Dust Devil

From Richard Stanley, the director who got fired from The Island of Dr Moreau, comes this strange and atmospheric horror movie set in South Africa. A woman splits from her abusive husband and takes a road trip through the desert. Along the way she picks up a handsome drifter, which of course is a bad idea, but you know how it goes. The guy isn't any ordinary drifter, he's not even an ordinary serial killer, he's some sort of shape-shifting demon completing a series of ritual sacrifices.

I'm impressed that Stanley was only in his mid-20's when he made this film... my age, essentially. He's got an admirably tight control of the tone, evoking the desolation of the wasteland that the characters are passing through. Apparently when this was initially released, the Weinstein brothers cut out a good 20 or 30 minutes of it, including all the supernatural stuff, I guess because it was too slow and too strange. Poor Stanley can't get a break, that's two movies I know for a fact that he got fucked on. But this DVD release is a restored version, the "final cut," and it's pretty sweet.

I could have done with out the portentous voice-over narration, or the subplot about the woman's husband, or the other subplot about the aging black police office searching for the killer that also is trying to make some sort of statement about racism in South Africa that doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the film. That said, Dust Devil is still an effective and entertaining horror movie with style to burn. I might try to catch another of Stanley's movies for YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ:Y2.

Also of note: the Dust Devil is played by Robert John Burke, the actor who played Robocop in Robocop 3. He's a lot better looking when his face isn't covered in metal shit.

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