Richard Stanley’s “Dust Devil” is “The Hitcher” with a supernatural twist. It’s a compelling story about a man who kills random drivers on the road, yet is also a monster impossible to kill. With the special edition of “Dust Devil” from Subversive Cinema, now on DVD, you don’t only get one DVD, you get five. You receive the final cut, the more extended work print, and three other film works from Richard Stanley that are very avant-garde. Like the “Cannibal Holocaust” boxed set, this is well worth the money because it gives film collectors something to really bite on with a wonderfully constructed library of goodies with extras, booklets, production diaries, and even a “Dust Devil” comic book.
Chucking almost thirty bucks on this won’t incite guilt, because supplies will not last, and it will be a rare find, eventually. Much of the story of Dust Devil reminded me of “Riders of the Storm” from the Doors. He’s a monster of a man on a road who will mutilate anyone who decides to pick him up. Stanley’s film is shot in an orange glow that creates a “Dune” landscape and accentuates the barren wasteland upon which our Dust Devil preys. Dust Devil is not just a killer with lust, he’s a monster and a shape shifter with a plan. He serves a purpose that he intends on fulfilling, and he drowns himself in his victim’s souls in the process. He’s a cold and calculating creature who seduces the souls he comes across. Robert John Burke’s performance is rather illuminating and nothing short of mesmerizing as this demonic entity who takes pleasure in his deeds, but can’t help get lost in his own lust with these women.
He’s an utterly memorable horror villain as he commits these dark ceremonies, and listens to the road for oncoming drivers, then takes the souls from the miserable and unloved. Stanley’s direction is fantastic providing some of the most amazing wide shots ever filmed. In one scene, the character Wendy and Dust Devil kiss along a canyon while the camera swoops around them dramatically. Wendy has just left her abusive husband and is now on the open road. After picking up Dust Devil, they begin to form a relationship even though she has no idea what utter danger she’s in. After discovering his mementos from his victims, she narrowly escapes his attacks and flees, but using his dark magic, he’s going to make her escape truly impossible. Meanwhile, Wendy’s husband forms an uneasy partnership with an officer tracking Dust Devil. Zakes Mokae is a sort of Loomis presence who delves deep into the monster’s past, and will stop at nothing to destroy him.
Many audiences expecting a fast paced horror film will be disappointed. “Dust Devil” doesn’t rush its story, and it doesn’t intend on creating a fast pace. It’s slow, and steady, and sometimes sluggish, and with the constant narration, Stanley devotes much of the dialogue to exposition on the plot, and on mounting tension. Stanley relies on much of the settings of sand, dunes, mountains, and peaks to create a sense of the barren and void, a world where Dust Devil reigns and controls without hope of outwitting him. He has powers, and he’s utterly relentless, and Stanley lets us explore him while keeping him an enigma. “Dust Devil” is a surreal experience, but it’s also one truly underrated piece of work. In spite of the slow pace, “Dust Devil” is a rather remarkable piece of horror mysticism with great performances from Robert John Burke, and Chelsea Field. Stanley’s horror entry is tense, wonderfully directed, and well worth the price.
The DVD extras are numerous featuring bios, stills galleries, interviews, trailers, home movies, making of featurettes, and much more. The supplements included are a “Dust Devil” comic book prequel, a “Dust Devil” production diary, an essays booklet on Stanley’s documentaries, and his three documentaries “The Secret Glory,” “The White Darkness,” and “Voice of the Moon.” There is also the work cut for “Dust Devil,” and the exclusive soundtrack, a double sided cover, and so many more features. Subversive Cinema did a fantastic job comprising a wonderful DVD set.