The film making career of director Richard Stanley has to be one of the Film Industry's most wasted opportunities. Why hasn't this talented director made more films? His two complete films Dust Devil and Hardware are both visions of uniqueness and originality. It is both the Industry and the Film Goer who have lost out big time to the fact that Stanley has only made these two films and was ignominiously fired from a third - the most recent remake of The Island Of Dr Moreau.
Dust Devil was originally released in a severely edited version by its producers and distributors and with no marketing to speak of, quickly left cinemas and went straight onto video. Stanley has restored an approximately 20 mins of footage and the running time of the film is now 108 mins. The restoration is crucial because the initial release saw all the supernatural elements of the film removed, so as to make it a pure serial killer type film. Fully restored to a version as close to Stanley's original vision as is possible, given the passage of time, Dust Devil can finally take its long overdue accolade as a great film in its own right, within the genre of Horror film making.
Set in Namibia, at the time of that country's independence from South Africa, Dust Devil follows the exploits of a murderous, hitchhiking nomad (played by Robert John Burke) who after butchering and dismembering his victims, retains their fingers. This nomad subsequently is revealed to be more than human, and in fact is a 'Dust Devil' from African folklore - a shape shifting demon who preys on the lonely, despondent and vulnerable, and collects their souls to buy his way into an afterlife.
A depressed housewife (well played by Chelsea Field) flees her husband in South Africa and drives into Namibia's desolate badlands, hoping to lose herself in this bleak but beautiful wilderness. However, she is drawn to the Dust Devil and soon finds that there are far worse things than depression and failed marriage to have to cope with.
Hunting this killer, is an ageing South African policeman, superbly played by Zakes Mokae (The Serpent And The Rainbow, A Dry White Season). Before long this policeman learns the nature of his quarry and living somewhat on the edge himself, following the death of his wife and child, realises that he too is a potential victim.
The films narrator is John Matshikiza who plays a Namibian shaman. He it is who advised Mokae's policeman as to the nature of the quarry that he is attempting to hunt down...
Boasting a stupendous score by Simon Boswell, the film is also visually stunning with its Namibian desert locations and real life ghost towns.
All the cast acquit themselves well as the story with its theme of desolation plays out to its grim conclusion. The walls separating reality and otherworldliness are blurred in this film, and the visions experienced by the film's principals seem to meld into real life. Destitute individuals, dying towns, and a barren and stunningly beautiful landscape combine to give a visual feast of a film which lingers long in the memory after having been viewed.
This is a five disc DVD and apart from the main version of the film, there is 115 min rough cut that features sequences that Stanley considered too far gone to actually include in this final cut of the film. Well worth a look though.
Additionally there are two documentaries on another two of these DVDs. one is The Voice Of The Moon which is Stanley's documentary that he filmed while in Afghanistan with the Mujahadin rebels during the 1980s.
The other documentary is The Secret Glory which again made by Stanley, features the story of the quest of Otto Rahn (an SS officer) to locate the Holy Grail.
The last disc though is Simon Boswell's full and magnificent score for Dust Devil.
The main disc of the film though is in 5.1 sound which coupled with these extra DVDs and CD, makes this Region 1 release by far the superior version to go for as compared to the Region 2 DVD which is a single disc and in surround sound only (why?).
For Stanley fans this is an incredible opportunity to see Dust Devil almost fully restored and at last in a format that it deserves. Newcomers to Richard Stanley's work are also strongly recommended to use this set as a starting point in viewing this outrageously underrated director's work. Thankfully though, Stanley is starting to get the recognition that is so long overdue for him, and we may see him make another film in the near future at long last too.
on 12 June 2015
This is in my opinion one of the great movies of the genre, the director fully immerses you in the mystic influences of the culture while capturing the politics and conflict of the time, without ever letting them take over the feel and atmosphere of the film. Great performances from the lead actors, and superb cinematography make this one of my favourites. Recommended. Extras are also first rate particularly with Director Richard Stanley.
on 23 January 2013
I knew it already, I was just looking for those three documentaries that came along.
Nice dvd set!
Starting with this Richard Stanley movie I discovered Simon Boswell soundtracks, this one and those from other movies, Alexander Jodorowsky films as well.
And if we have ever been in contact with the magic of Africa, its land and people, and those great landscapes, you would like this movie I believe!!!