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Devil's 8 AKA The Devil's Eight, The

Kino // PG-13 // August 31, 2021
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted July 29, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Devil's 8:

Woe is the reviewer who grabs what looks like a cracking-good car-crashing exploitation picture from the screener pool, mistakenly thinking it hails from 1979, when in fact that year is 1969. (Something about judging a book by its cover and misreading Roman Numerals at a quick glance.) The Devil's 8 is no disappointment, though it's not what the doctor ordered. If your prescription calls for a relatively mild programmer that aspired to something slightly better than playing regional drive-ins as the last century got ready to wind down, this Blu-ray will tickle you, but it will have the most appeal for a select set of viewers who specialize in such things, not generalists like myself.

Christopher George (before he got big hair and was forced to slum in Italian Horror) stars as Federal Agent Ray Faulkner, a boozing carouser who is pegged to collar Moonshine Kingpin Burl (Ralph Meeker), a man of such corrupt influence he has a moonshine town named after him, with tendrils extending into government. Faulkner gets his pick, sort-of, from a bunch of hardened criminals working a chain gang. His picks all like to drive real fast, which will help Faulkner's cockamamie scheme to train them in fast-driving-grenade-chucking and fisticuffs. Hopefully such a daft scheme will result in the right people ending up behind bars.

Much time in The Devil's 8 is spent in rigorous training of the criminals, something that strains plausibility but makes for entertaining team-building. The cast is a mild hoot of over-actors, including Fabian as a hard-drinking loser Sonny, Larry Bishop as bible-thumping pacifist Chandler, and Leslie Parrish as the love interest. Pre-fame scribes Willard Huyck and John Milius helped throw together the script, a low-rent take on The Dirty Dozen, and off to the races we go!

Those races include sincerely episodic training exercises and multiple violent encounters as the crew attempts to horn in on Burl's territory, the better to take it over and get him landed in jail. It would help some if we cared much about the characters, or if the movie was filmed in a more dynamic style, but alas, those things weren't meant to be.

Featuring Christopher George at his proto-tough-guy best (which ain't saying much), The Devil's 8 is an American International Pictures programmer meant to ape the more popular Dirty Dozen on a budget. Featuring hard driving, hand grenades, and a flimsy plot stringing together action set-pieces, the movie aims to entertain folks sneaking beer into a drive-in circa 1969. At that, it's mildly successful. For nostalgia buffs and connoisseurs of the genre, this release merits a Rent It for a slow evening.


The DVD

Video:
The Devil's 8 comes in a brand new 2k scan, presented in 1080p High-Definition in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio format. Noticeable are the rich, saturated colors, relatively true and natural. The transfer reflects the quality of footage faithfully, that is, the better a scene was shot, with good lighting and static camera position, the clearer and sharper is the image. Sometimes things get a little soft or lose focus, but overall this is a good-looking presentation. The source used lived a rough life, apparently, as, though there is no glaring damage, white speckling appears regularly. It didn't affect my enjoyment, such as it was, and lends a bit of drive-in feel to the proceedings.


Sound:
English DTS 2.0 Mono Audio sounds fine, with dialog clean, clear, and free of damage. Music and sound effects are mixed in appropriately. The score leaves something to be desired, as it mostly consists of different riffs on the theme-song, which is a real corker, a ‘Ballad of the Red Baron'-type narrative ditty that explains the plot and characters in full detail, and will stick in your head for days after hearing it. (It doesn't help that it plays loudly over the menu screen.)


Extras:
A handful of Trailers for other Kino Lorber genre releases accompany the movie, as well as English SDH Subtitles and a 14-minute Interview with Larry ‘Chandler' Bishop round things out. Bishop has fond memories of his co-stars, and some fun stories.


Final Thoughts:
Featuring Christopher George at his proto-tough-guy best (which ain't saying much), The Devil's 8 is an American International Pictures programmer meant to ape the more popular Dirty Dozen on a budget. Featuring hard driving, hand grenades, and a flimsy plot stringing together action set-pieces, the movie aims to entertain folks sneaking beer into a drive-in circa 1969. At that, it's mildly successful. For nostalgia buffs and connoisseurs of the genre, this release merits a Rent It for a slow evening.

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