Devil Came from Akasava
= Highest Rating
Franco's Danger!! Death Ray? Well,
not quite. This Euro-spy adventure from the low budget Spanish
auteur is a much better movie and almost as unintentionally
Over the past couple of weeks I've been engaged in something
of an impromptu Franco-thon: The
Bloody Judge, his two Fu Manchu flicks, Female
Vampire and now, The Devil Came from
Akasava. Surprisingly, I haven't gotten burned out!
Perhaps I'm starting to get in tune with
Franco's odd rhythms and idiosyncrasies. Then again, I've always
been a sucker for trashy James Bond knockoffs so I was keen
to see what kind of nutty spin ol' Jess would put on the genre.
The fact that the movie also stars sultry Franco muse Soledad
Miranda (Vampyros Lesbos,
Eugenie de Sade)
was a significant draw as well.
In the fictional African nation of Akasava,
a British geologist discovers the legendary Philosopher's Stone
— a mineral that can transmute ordinary metals into gold. But
exposure to the stone has adverse effects on humans, burning
the skin dark brown and turning victims into narcoleptic zombies.
(Or something to that effect.) The professor's assistant is
killed and the stone stolen, carried away in a lead-lined suitcase;
then the professor himself disappears. At the same time a man
is murdered during a burglary of the geologist's office in London,
thousands of miles away. This arouses the interest of both Scotland
Yard and the British Secret Service, who unofficially pool their
resources to solve the crime and locate the stone.
Sexy espionage agent Jane Morgan (Miranda,
billed as "Susann Korda") travels to Akasava to gather clues.
On arrival she goes undercover as an exotic dancer since, like
most impoverished Third World nations, Akasava has a venue for
avant-garde performance artists. Hooking up with a swinging
Scotland Yard dick (Fred Williams) posing as the professor's
nephew, Jane encounters various enemies and allies in her mission
to find out who swiped the magical stone and retrieve it. Among
the suspects are a European doctor (Horst Tappert) running a
missionary clinic, his adulterous wife (Ewa Stroemberg, who
costarred with Miranda in Vampyros Lesbos),
a greasy-haired Italian spy (the director himself, uncredited),
and a wealthy English lord (The
Testament of Dr. Mabuse's Walter Rilla) with ties to British
intelligence. Franco regulars Paul Müller and Howard Vernon
also appear in small roles, though Vernon doesn't have any dialog.
(He does get to plug some of the characters with a Luger, however,
and figures prominently in the film's goofy climax.)
a spy flick there's very little action and intrigue, though
there's cheese aplenty courtesy of the loopy dialog (even in
subtitled German) and the director's penchant for infusing even
the most mundane of scenes with his trademark weirdness. Victims
of the stone's deadly radiation look as if they smeared chocolate
on their faces while blitzed on downers. The editing is all
over the place... Watch as the fleeing Vernon runs across the
lush green sward of an English country estate — at night — only
to miraculously appear at a dusty dirt airstrip, in daylight,
within the blink of an eye. Since much of the plot doesn't make
any sense Franco is often content to wander off on tangents
that have very little to do with it. A good thing, too... Thus
we're treated to extended scenes of Jane's nightclub act, which
consists solely of the scantily-clad Miranda provocatively posing
to the groovy, swanky strains of the film's jazz-pop score.
(Dig those sitar riffs! You can listen to the main title theme
["Dedicated To Love"] by clicking on the link in the
obviously worshipped the stunning, photogenic actress, who was
tragically killed in a car wreck immediately after making this
film. She's at the pinnacle of her sex appeal here; the camera
lingers on her face and form with the passion of the obsessed.
Watching these scenes I can readily understand Franco's genuflection
at the altar of her beauty.
a 33-year old low budget exploitation film Devil
looks remarkably good on the new DVD from Image. There's some
grain visible here and there but detail is sharp and colors vivid;
print damage is very minor. Unfortunately the transfer is 4:3
full-screen rather than the film's original 1.66:1 aspect ratio.
Thus some scenes look a bit cramped and the top of actors' heads
are occasionally lopped off. But it isn't really that terrible
— not the catastrophe that would result were the film's AOR 1.85:1
or higher. (Especially with a director so fond of the zoom lens!)
The disc's Dolby mono audio track — in German with optional English
subtitles — is clear, not too flat-sounding, a fortunate thing
considering how much the music score adds to the film.
The big bummer: no extras. (I mean nothin'.)
The packaging is certainly attractive enough, utilizing some cool
artwork, but that's it. Given this fact, and in light of the fullframe
transfer, I'm giving the disc a DVD rating of '4' (out of a possible
10). Were it priced under ten dollars I'd be more forgiving. Franco
completists and admirers of the bewitching Soledad Miranda will
find it worthwhile regardless. (Word to the latter: go directly
to chapters 7 and 9.) 10/08/03