Thursday, July 7, 2016

Would-be HD debut of an undiscovered zircon: Ernst R. von Theumer's HELL HUNTERS

A movie from 1986 I'd be willing to swear that just about no one was asking to be exhumed from the vault, HELL HUNTERS, made by Austrian film producer and director Ernst R. von Theumer (shown below), is now available on DVD in what is advertised as High Definition but instead looks like a so-so transfer from an old VHS videotape. Where do movies like this come from -- and why? This is the question bound to be on the minds of viewers who take a chance on the film.

The answer is most likely to be found via the film's current distributor, Film Chest Media Group, which, over the past few years has given us some very odd choices -- ranging from the Hedy Lamarr movie, The Strange Woman, to the hilarious sci-fi-horror, The Killer Shrews. Hell Hunters is perhaps the strangest in the bunch, written as it seems to have been by a trio (including von Theumer) whose combined talent might equal that of a gifted eight-year-old.

Unfortunately, the screenplay is not so godawful that it's fun. That might be reason enough to watch. Instead, it's just sub-standard in every way -- from the weak and tired plot (Nazi-hunting in South America) to the dialog (He: "Don't be stupid!" She: "I don't like being called stupid!" And that's one of the saucier exchanges.)

Why did this particular movie seem ripe for a new release, I wonder? Maybe it fell into the public domain and was thus worth the time and trouble. In any case, this is not one of those films that fans have been begging to see on DVD (The African Queen, it ain't). In the cast are headlined Stewart Granger (above, and who was usually fun to see, back in the day) and ex-Bond girl Maud Adams (below, right).

He plays the leading Nazi, working on some spider-induced venom that could decimate a whole city (this plot twist that never goes anywhere at all), while she plays a supposed Nazi hunter who clearly is so inept that she can't even protect her self from a very obvious assassin. The real stars of the film, however, are a easy-on-the-eyes duo made up of the late Brazilian actor Rômulo Arantes (below), a very hot little number who gives us some nice full frontal in the course of the film,

and Candice Daly, who plays Ms Adams daughter out for vengeance -- but in a manner too ditsy to be believed. The two characters who prove the most fun are played by Russ McCubbin (below, left) as a big, brawny guy named Kong, and Nelia J. Cozza, as the Nazi hunter who first fights then falls for the guy.

There's a car chase, a prison escape, lots of shoot-em-ups and bullet wounds. And some pleasant, if typical, jungle-and-river scenery, as well as Rio de Janeiro at Carnival time. But very little intelligence and only a modicum of fun.

Still, if you are one of those who wants to be able to say that s/he has seen a movie than probably very few others ever have, then Hell Hunters (the level to which this one rises is more like Heck Hunters) might just be worth a watch.

The movie arrived this past Tuesday, July 5, in that would-be high-def DVD format, from Film Chest Media Group -- for purchase and perhaps (if you can find an outlet that stocks it) for rental, too.

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