MY REVIEW OF IT
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THE DEVILS HONEY(1986)
(Directed by Lucio Fulci)
Plot: A young woman, traumatized by her boyfriends death, blames the doctor who failed to save him. She captures him and begins a game of psychological(and sometimes sexual) torture on him to enact her revenge. Also known as “Dangerous Obsession” and “Miele Del Diavolo, Il”.
In the year 1982, Lucio Fulci divorced his skill and talent. I say this because Fulci’s last memorable film, “New York Ripper”, was made in 1982. So was “Manhattan Baby”, which I oddly haven’t seen, but don’t hear great things about. That movie was arguably the beginning of Fulci’s downslide. Of course, a lot of people tend to think that way of “New York Ripper” too. By the year 1986, when he made “The Devils Honey”, his talent/skill had already boarded a train and was waving goodbye. “The Devils Honey” was Fulci’s way of waving back. Yeah, I don’t really understand what I just said either.
In all fairness to this movie, it is quite bearable. I mean, it was made after “Murder Rock”, one of Fulci’s most boring works. Then “Aenigma” was made after this, which was also one of Fulci’s most boring works. Oddly, “Devils Honey” had no pacing issues whatsoever. Hell, as much as I appreciate “Zombie” and “Don’t Torture a Duckling”, this is arguably Fulci at his quickest pace. Incidentally, only 2 years later Fulci made his worst film, the dreaded “Ghosts of Sodom”.
If I told you this was Fulci’s first attempt at an erotic thriller(yes, it’s a thriller so it goes in the horror section), then you might scream in terror of fear that you may be forced to watch “Ghosts of Sodom” again. Let me assure you, this is far better than that. In contrast to the above film, this one actually succeeds in being somewhat erotic. While there are some moments of sadism, sex is shown as sex. Nudity is generally pleasant, and it’s never really that awkward. “Ghosts of Sodom” attempted to blend sadism and sex into one twisted abomination, and well…it was a twisted abomination, but in the immensely boring kind of way.
Our story(lol, story) has Jessica(played by the sister of the main gal from “Opera”) having constant sexual exploits with Johnny, her boyfriend. He is a talented young saxophone player and it shows on us. The main theme is apparently the song Johnny plays, and it is a very poetic and catchy score. Hell, I almost wish there was a soundtrack for this just so I can listen to that theme again. The first act mostly just focuses on these two young lovers in their love making. We are kind of on guard, as Johnny seems too sex oriented and is kind of raping her, but she tends to get into it eventually. But then she bitches when it’s all over. Women.
On the other hand, we are introduced to Dr. Wendell Simpson(Brett Halsey from another Fulci movie: “Touch of Death”). Dr. Simpson is a surgeon, and seems quite neglectful to his wife. He visits hookers, but doesn’t respect them very much. He is a man who is probably in his midlife crisis. While fooling around, Johnny falls off of his motorcycle and hits his head. He seems fine, but collapses later on in his recording studio. Meanwhile, the Doctors wife finds out about his unfaithfulness and tells him she wants a divorce. This distracts the Dr. Simpson, who is called in to save Johnny’s life. He fails, and Johnny dies. Jessica goes insane and blames the doctor. Hence, the story truly gets going. What follows is mainly an excuse to get the actress naked, and somehow, this works.
Yes, I said it, it feels as if the rest of the movie is an excuse to watch Jessica walk around in her birthday suit. For once, I won’t complain. It should be noted that almost every two minutes you will see a woman naked. Whether it’s Jessica, the hooker or the wife, someone is going to get naked. There is one period when Johnny goes to the hospital when someone doesn’t get naked for maybe five minutes or so. But later on when you see Jessica chasing after the Doctors car, she isn’t wearing a bra and a breast falls out. Yikes, that’s a lot of nakedness. THANK GOD BRETT HALSEY DOESN”T GET FULLY NAKED. Oh wait, he does…..THANK GOD YOU DON’T SEE “ANYTHING” WHEN BRETT HALSEY GETS NAKED.
Story wise, we get a surprisingly decent drama going on. I actually
like the structure of the script. We’re not really sure how bad Johnny is. He’s kind of a sleaze, but he does seem to care for Jessica in his own way. But we’re left wondering why Jessica is so obsessed with him after he dies. Luckily, Fulci acknowledges this question and turns it into an arc. The flashbacks she has of him at first answer why. But later on, the flashbacks take a different turn and become “Why?”. At first, they are Jessica remembering the good things. But then the “Why?” comes when she remembers the bad things he put her through. It becomes surprisingly effective, far beyond the caliber of this type of movie.
There are a few other interesting aspects as well. Johnny gives Jessica a doll, but then later breaks it. Throughout the movie, Jessica still has the broken doll and tries to get the Doctor to fix it. The doll represents Jessica. Johnny brought her happiness and destroyed it as well. She’s hoping the Doctor can “fix” her. I also liked one of the flashbacks where Johnny makes Jessica do something disgusting while video taping it. Jessica says “You weren’t like this”. The line makes no sense at first, but then I realized that this isn’t a true flashback. This is Jessica within her flashback, talking to Johnny’s memory.
Directing wise, Fulci has a few good moments, but mostly just seems intent on close-ups on breasts and female genitalia. As I said before, the pacing is quick, which I attribute to the editor. The editing is pretty good overall. I also liked the orange filters and the scenes of beautiful scenery. At least the film looks alright. But yeah, it’s not a major accomplishment for him.
Now, don’t get the wrong idea. This isn’t really a good film, it’s more like a guilty pleasure. Or I guess a guilty pleasures retarded sibling. It’s very forgettable, but amusing. It’s sleazy, but at least not disgusting. It’s kind of offensive, but only has one scene of tastelessness(the hooker bit). So while it was an alright watch, it will probably be forgotten as soon as I post this review. It often comes across as very cheesy. The scene where Jessica is pressing against the glass as Johnny collapses is almost amusing because it’s laid so thick on us. At times, the music becomes a hybrid between 70’s porn and 80’s…well, 80’s anything. In short, the movie is 80’s cheese.
Blanca Marsillach(Jessica) overacts at times, but you can’t help but feel bad for her. She’s also very hot. Brett Halsey(Dr. Simpson) is no longer the heartthrob he used to be, but I completely bought his performance. Special mention goes to Stefano Madia(Johnny), who was EXTREMELY charismatic and you can completely see why Jessica is so in love with him. Strong acting for a Fulci movie. The dubbing isn’t bad either.
Violence: Some disturbing moments, but Fulci restrains himself.
Nudity: Er, you see everything on almost every woman in the movie. I don’t think there was any explicit male nudity, but there is some shocking stuff. It’s almost pornographic.
Overall: “The Devils Honey” exists to show lots of nudity, nudity and more nudity. It goes down surprisingly smoothly and while it’s not a highlight of Fulci’s career, it isn’t one of his lower points either. Also, it’s GOD compared to “Ghosts of Sodom”, his second attempt at sexploitation. Even though it probably only deserves a 2/4 stars, I enjoyed it more than “Touch of Death” so will give it a higher rating.
my reviews of martial arts and horror films