The name Lucio Fulci for many film fans is synonymous with the word gore. His name looms large over those of us who enjoy a bit of the red stuff but in recent years his non-horror films have received reappraisal. Now instead of automatically thinking about films like the New York Ripper and Zombie, he’s also remembered for his gialli, his westerns, and his fantasy films. Most fans agree that his later period output is his weakest. I’m not one of them. I like his mid-late 80’s output even if the films are often very low budget. This era of his films are characterized by being both cheap and more often than not, angry. It seems that towards the end of his career he felt that he had been betrayed and marginalized by fans and producers alike. The Devil’s Honey sits right in with his late cycle films but until now it was unavailable in the U.S. Nearly everything he ever directed is available here and so it was a mystery as to why this one was left behind. Thanks to this new blu-ray, Fulci fans finally have the opportunity to check out this missing Fulci flick made at the beginning of the end of his career.
The Devil’s Honey is about a saxophone player boyfriend and his often upset girlfriend. Why is she upset so often in the film? Well, it seems that her boyfriend, who professes deep love for her, is always asking her to take part in sexual activities that she isn’t interested in. He asks her to do something that for her is over the line, he begs, she relents, and then after she feels like dirt while he tells her he loves her deeply. After one such questionable coupling he injurs himself and has to be rushed to the hospital. There he dies (don’t worry, not a spoiler) and his girlfriend goes to pieces. She tracks down the doctor that she feels let her boyfriend die, and kidnaps him with the intent of torturing and killing him. Things get stranger when the duo begin an S&M relationship of sorts.
As has been stated by everyone that’s reviewed this flick, this is likely Fulci’s sleaziest movie. The first half is filled with graphic nudity and sex. The sex in the film isn’t completely consensual which makes it even sleazier. I can’t tell if Fulci wanted to depict a dysfunctional relationship and how that could lead to psychosis and violence or if the relationship was supposed to be “normal.” The tone of the film suggests that the boyfriend was just doing what all guys do. There is a lot of happy music and laughing and joking and none of the girlfriends protests are taken seriously. It’s almost as if this was supposed to be a portrait of a healthy relationship destroyed by death, not a portrait of a dysfunctional and abusive one. Since Fulci has passed we may never know what exactly he was trying to do here. The film feels angry, almost as if Fulci just wanted to make his audience uncomfortable, especially during the last 30 minutes or so.
The Devil’s Honey feels a bit like an uglier and ham fisted version of The Story of O but of course this was made many years later. It also reminds me of a proto-90’s sex thriller that were all the rage for a few years. It’s a sleazy flick that was either made too late because pornography could be easily rented from a video store at this time or too early, before sex thrillers became popular. Either way it’s an ugly flick and there’s no getting around that. Whether or not you would enjoy this flick depends heavily on how much sleaze you can handle and your interpretation of the film’s depiction of sex. What this film isn’t is a fun Fulci slasher for which he was known for at this time.
All that being said the film looks great and i doubt it will ever look better. The picture is sharp (or at least as sharp as it can be with Fulci’s dreamy focus), the audio clear and it’s completely uncut. It’s also stacked with special features like interviews with the cast and crew, the composer, and Stephen Thrower.
If you’re a big fan of Fulci and like his late cycle stuff, this might be a great pick up. It has been treated with respect by Severin and it has great features. Keep in mind however the questionable nature of the film and that it isn’t your typical Fulci flick.