Dust Devil: The Final Cut
Limited Collector's Edition, Collector's Edition, Limited Edition
DVD | Box Set
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Richard Stanley's highly sought-after "Director's Cut" makes it's home video debut. Wendy (Chelsea Field; David Lynch's Hotel Room A Passion To Kill Wicked) leaves her husband taking off into the voids of Africa. She picks up a hitchhiker (Robert John Burke; Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Good Night and Good Luck Munich) a traveling Serial Killer who snaps photos of his victims before killing them. Wendy does not realize the danger she is in until a police detective (Zakes Mokae; The Comedians Gross Anatomy Waterworld) arrives to warn her that her "companion" is something much worse than just a killer he is a shape-shifting demon who steals his victims' souls. Soon both the officer and Wendy become the next intended victims of the Dust Devil The 5-disc set includes:Dust Devil: The Final CutDust Devil: The Final Cut Work Print (with additional footage)Three Richard Stanley documentaries: The Secret Glory Voice Of The Moon and The White Darkness (on 2 discs)Bonus Soundtrack CDFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: HORROR Rating: R UPC: 858964001133 Manufacturer No: 1133
As noted by Richard Stanley fans, Dust Devil, the feature following his box-office hit Hardware, failed to find release, and when it did, a terrible edit drastically altered the story. Subversive Sinema has now released the director-approved final cut of Dust Devil, in a box set that also contains Dust Devil's working edit, the film's Sergio Leone-like soundtrack, and three riveting Stanley documentaries: The Secret Glory, Voice of the Moon, and The White Darkness. Dust Devil, a horror story based on the myth of a Namibian serial killer, looks more like a Western. Filmed on location in Africa where the murders allegedly took place, Chelsea Field plays Wendy Robinson, a woman, who under duress of leaving her husband, heads out to the desert to accidentally encounter the Dust Devil (Robert John Burke), a mercy killer who slays depressed women to save them from the dark side. According to locals, the Dust Devil is a demon, enabling Stanley's abiding interest in world folk religions to weigh heavily in on the plot, especially when the town's witch doctor visits the beyond to unlock mysteries, or when the Dust Devil displays a box containing his victims' fingers. The documentaries, however, are most exciting. The White Darkness unravels political and social aspects of Haitian Voudon, including the history of American Imperialism in Haiti, as told by skilled priest and priestess, Altes Paul and Edelle. Voice of the Moon shows footage of Afghani rebels in the late '80s, sans narrator, instead beautifully accompanied by native music and poetry, adding Herzogian emotional effect. The Secret Glory pieces together the story of Otto Rahn, an SS officer who thought he'd located the Holy Grail. In all three films, the authenticity of the subjects reign, making it more difficult to buy the magic's fictionalized version in Dust Devil. Dust Devil, though, with its cheesier horror moments, provides a dose of humor to a fairly serious package. --Trinie Dalton
- Deluxe 5-disc set including
- 2 versions of Dust Devil: the final director's cut and a longer work print version
- 3 of Richard Stanley¹s most controversial documentaries: The Secret Glory, Voice Of The Moon, and The White Darkness
- Bonus Soundtrack CD
- Audio commentary tracks with cast and crew
- Featurettes with cast and crew
- Still galleries
- Talent bios
- Exclusive Dust Devil comic book
- Production diary and essay booklets
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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.
Stanley grew up in South Africa and learned the folklore of the natives at the feet of his mother, an anthropologist who collected stories and folktales of the African tribes. This story revolves around a shape-shifting spirit, variously called a Soupwah, a Num or in Afrikaans, a Nagtloper (literally Night-Runner). The Nagtloper (Robert John Burke) feeds off the life-force of the damned - people who have lost the will to live. Into his orbit float two lost souls, Wendy (Chelsea Field) a South African woman fleeing from a failed marriage and Ben Mukurob (Zakes Mokae), a Zulu policeman whose life came to an end years ago with the death of his wife. Who will attain deliverance? The white woman, the black policeman or the Nagtloper, whose own aim is to return to the spirit world from where it came. The desolate emptiness of the Namib is beautifully captured. Scenes are exquisitely choreographed, almost like a ballet. I don't know if I would recommend it to the usual horror film fan, but it is definitely one for cinephiles. The DVD is superbly produced with crystal clear image quality, no dirt, no damage and with exceptionally good sound. It is presented in its original 1.85:1 widescreen. Strangely there are no subtitles. The main feature is anamorphic (enhanced for widescreen TV) as are all of Stanley's interview segments. Sadly none of the other Extras are anamorphic. Even the workprint is letterboxed.
This Special Edition comes with a host of Extras spread over 5 discs. Personally I felt that devoting an entire disc to the "Workprint" was overkill. But I'm not complaining. You can watch the workprint in its entirety or just use the 46 chapter-stops to get directly to the various deleted segments, which are sadly all taken from a VHS source; some having no sound, some looking really terrible, and most having the video-counter running above or below the print. I would recommend the workprint only to ardent admirers of the Final Cut. The other Extras have nothing to do with the main film itself but are Stanley's TV documentaries on other subjects. Nonetheless, they are definitely worth viewing.
The most substantial Extra is "The Secret Glory of SS Obersturmfuhrer Otto Rahn" made for Britain's Channel Four TV. This is a 97min documentary on the life of the Nazi poet and writer Otto Rahn who was obsessed with the search for the "Holy Grail". This is not the Grail of Christ which we usually associate with the legendary quest but a more obscure "Grail" supposedly made from the crown of Lucifer, variously described as a stone, a gem or a diadem. Stanley contends that Rahn and the Nazis did find the Grail in southern France but gives no source for his claim. To be fair, the documentary is not about the search for the Grail itself but is an account of Rahn's tragic life. The sad irony of his life is that this Nazi stalwart, who wrote so many vile tracts condemning the Jews, was in the end, himself revealed to be a Jew. The documentary is very dense, and expects the viewer to be fully conversant with Grail legend, 13th Century Crusader history (specifically of the Albigensian or Cathar Crusade) and German history circa WWII. Like Rahn, Stanley doesn't make clear when he conflates fact and fiction. The Lucifer Grail is referred to in Wolfram von Eschenbach's medieval poem Parzival (the source of Wagner's Parsifal). This is by almost all accounts an invention based on the old Arthurian legends. Rahn ties that in to historical fact by assuming that the Grail mountain, the fictional Montsalvat of the poem, is the same as Montsegur, the last retreat of the Cathars in southern France. The Cathars were Gnostic Christians, declared heretics by the Vatican, which sent in Crusaders to annihilate them in what became known as the Albigensian Crusade. The hilltop fortress of Montsegur was where the Cathars made their last stand. At Montsegur Rahn searches and apparently finds the Grail he is looking for. In fact, the Cathars never claimed to possess the Holy Grail. The documentary is packed with so much information, both historical fact and literary fantasy, that it requires more than one viewing for full assimilation and it is not easy to sit through. Picture quality is mediocre but tolerable for a documentary extra. It is in 1.85:1 widescreen, letterboxed into a 4x3 fullframe. Sound quality is very poor. Dialogue is recorded at fluctuating volume levels, is frequently inaudible and in many instances drowned out by extremely boomy bass. Worse, the sound and picture for the interviews are never in sync. The film's temp-track sounds terrible (like a bad B-grade horror flick) but the accompanying Wagnerian music is grand and transcendent. The exerpts come from Wagner's Parsifal and Tannhauser. The documentary interviews are in equal parts German, French and English. The entire documentary comes with obligatory English subtitles. To be fair, Stanley admits that this is just a preview of a work in progress which he hopes to release in proper form one day.
My favourite of the documentaries is the 36min long "Voice of the Moon". It is a visual record of Stanley's visit to Afghanistan towards the end of the Soviet occupation (1989). As Stanley points out in the interview, it is more akin to poetry than a documentary; a visual tone-poem if you will. The sparse narration, in verse form, occurs only at the beginning and end and is given wholly in Pashto (Pashtun language). English subtitles are burnt onto the print. This was made for Britain's BSB channel. As a traditional factual documentary it falls flat, but as a visual poem it is beautiful. And this is evident despite the poor quality of the 16mm film footage. It was shot on a mechanical (spring driven/hand-cranked) Bolex camera, with no sync-audio. The reason was because they were travelling with the mujahideen and shooting for months in places where there was no electricity; mostly around the Afghan/Pakistan border region in the majestic Hindu Kush mountains. Stanley's 1/2-hour long interview accompanying this film is a must-see. He describes the Afghan expedition, his meetings with the Afghan mujahideen, his deep admiration for them and his sadness at seeing them bombed into oblivion post-9/11. The film itself ends with the mujahideen victorious in the final battle for Jalalabad. The music score is lyrical and evocative and is easily the loveliest score written by Simon Boswell on these discs. It is inspired by Eastern European folk music (not native Afghan music) and the documentary also features the Trio Bulgarka singing "Oi Yano Yanke" from their "The Forest is Crying" album.
"The White Darkness" is a documentary Stanley made for the BBC as part of a series on world religions. Its focus is on the practise of Voodoo on the island of Haiti. Coincidentally, while the documentary was being shot, America invaded the island. The documentary ends up being an examination of Voodoo practise on the one hand, and a record of the American invasion on the other. Thanks to a particularly obnoxious US Army Colonel, it also becomes a story about superior American Evangelical Christianity coming in to trounce the devil-worshipping heathens of the island. The Colonel is so boastfully arrogant and self-righteous that one could only sigh with relief to learn that he was eventually "removed from command". Visually this film looks the best of the three and is presented in its original 1.33:1 fullscreen with good audio quality. Most of the documentary is in English with the French and Creole segments suitably subtitled. It also comes with a 17min long interview where, amongst other things, Stanley describes the American invasion and the surreal image of US Marines and "Armed Baptists" coming to evangelise the heathens.
The last disc of this 5-disc set is an audio-CD containing the soundtrack of "Dust Devil". I wish they had included the soundtrack of "Voice of the Moon" as well. It is probably the best thing Simon Boswell has written. The set is accompanied by three separate 12-page booklets, the first being a very detailed and informative production diary on "Dust Devil", the second containing equally detailed discussions on the 3 documentaries, and the third being a comic-book version of the film. The "Dust Devil" feature alone is worth the asking price for this release. Coupled with all the extras, this DVD is self-recommending.
Note: As we are reminded on every disc here, Richard Stanley is the Great-Grandson of the legendary explorer and adventurer, Sir Henry Stanley, who gave his name to the Stanley Falls (now Boyoma Falls, DRC), and the city of Stanleyville (present day Kisangani, DRC), searched for and rescued his even more famous fellow-explorer, David Livingston and is credited with the iconic line, "Dr. Livingston, I presume?"
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The production details are a nice extra touch & the added documentaries fit the dark theme of...Read more