Saturday, June 3, 2017

South African Wolf Creek With a Dash of The Hitcher, or Thoughts on Richard Stanley’s Dust Devil

 Dust Devil (1992), from writer and director Richard Stanley, follows a serial killer with supernatural tones, a hitchhiker wandering those lonely one-point perspective desert roads killing women and painting mystical symbols all over the walls in their blood.  He wears the iconic uniform of boots, cowboy hat and a long duster, and the surreal and dreamlike film is more like a horror western in places.  The unnamed killer is on a collision course with Wendy, who has just left her abusive husband and is driving towards him.
Filmed in Namibia, the heat and dryness of the climate is palpable.  It’s reminiscent of a Clive Barker story, based on a South African legend of a shape-shifting demon.  With Chelsea Field, Teela from Masters of the Universe (1987) as Wendy.
Richard Stanley showed great promise with the success of his first feature film, Hardware (1990),  but his Hollywood career would be over before it started with his firing from The Island of Doctor Moreau (1996).  Dust Devil was his second and regrettably last movie, since then he’s written some screenplays and produced a couple documentaries but, lives in relative obscurity in Montségur, France.  It’s safe to say that Hollywood broke him.

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