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Film / Dust Devil

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Dust Devil is a 1992 horror movie directed by Richard Stanley.

Wendy (Chelsea Field) is fleeing to the desert to escape from her abusive husband, where she runs across a strange man (Robert John Burke) on the side of the road who isn't what he appears to be.

This film includes examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Most of the bodies left behind by the film's villain are dismembered, and their arms are left hanging by ropes.
  • Antagonist Title: The main antagonist of the movie is none other than an entity known as a Dust Devil.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Dust Devil is seldom seen without it.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: According to the DVD commentary, the film was inspired by the director's memory of being told the Vanishing Hitchhiker legend as a youngster.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Dust Devil claims to only kill those who are prepared to die, but itís not above using loopholes to push people to want to die. It seems to have somewhat of a clear concept of simple human pleasures and love, but still chooses to commit gruesome acts of violence.
  • Creator Cameo: When Wendy is driving to Bethany at night, she falls asleep behind the wheel and is startled by the Dust Devil, who is on the side of the road transforming into a dog. Stanley himself is under the makeup.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Polaroid photographs and human fingers. Justified, in that they're part of a ritual.
  • Demonic Possession: How Dust Devils can exist on the material plane. At the end, it possesses Wendy.
  • Demon of Human Origin: According to Joe, the Dust Devils had once been men before passing on to the spirit world.
  • Domestic Abuse: Mark is a paranoid husband who thinks Wendy is cheating on him, and hits her whenever he thinks she's lying.
  • Downer Ending: Wendy kills the host body of the Dust Devil, but Ben dies having failed to neutralize the spirit, who jumps into Wendyís body and leaves Mark to die chained to a car before going out to claim more souls.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: "I love you, Wendy." Said by the Dust Devil just before getting his head blown off, after he'd tried to eviscerate her, roast her alive in her own car, summon a sandstorm to kill her, and before hijacking her body.
  • Enfant Terrible: One of the Dust Devils is possessing the body of a young child, who seems a little too efficient with his shooting.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: Averted. The Dust Devils are all aware of each other, but they share no interaction and prefer to hunt alone.
  • Fingore: The Dust Devil severs the fingers of his victims, and keeps them in a jewel box.
  • Genre Mashup: Stanley described the film as a marriage between Italian gialli films and the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Villainous example. Wendy is preparing to take her own life when she hears the Dust Devil close in on the bathroom, and she seems to change her mind.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: According to Wendy, Mark is actually a good man behind his paranoia and temper. He does very little to back this up, however.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Mark, still chained to the cop car, encounters the possessed Wendy in the desert, begging her to free him. She aims a shotgun at him, then decides to just leave him there to die instead. Seeing how he was an abusive asshole, it's difficult to feel sorry for him.
  • No Name Given: The titular antagonist has no real name to speak of, though Wendy calls him "Texas" at one point.
  • Our Demons Are Different: While the term "demon" is never used, the Dust Devils certainly seem demonic. Theyíre vicious wind spirits of human origin that have to reside in human bodies, but wish to escape into the spirit realm through use of black magic.
  • Out with a Bang: A woman and the Dust Devil get it on, and he breaks her neck right as they both climax.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: It's the Dust Devil's weapon of choice when he cuts up his victims.
  • Scenery Gorn: Much like Stanley's previous effort, it's set in a desert wasteland with vicious sandstorms and decrepit-looking houses.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Ben is stabbed by the Dust Devil and left to limp towards his death, and when heís on the ground, takes the opportunity to plant the fetish given to him by Joe at the hostís feet to neutralize the spirit. Unfortunately, he fails to burn the root needed to complete the banishment before Wendy kills the host body, at which point, the Dust Devil hops into her.
  • Serial Killer: Subverted, as per the tagline. The Dust Devil has characteristics of one, such as having a consistent M.O. and taking trophies, but it's all part of a ritual that he needs to claim enough souls to return to the spirit world. Furthermore, his crimes stretch all the way back to the dawn of man.
  • Tragic Monster: Joe tries to paint the Dust Devil as such, with little actual success. He claims that he only wants to go back to the spirit realm, but the sheer enjoyment that he derives from its basic human pleasures, coupled with the fact that he puts many innocents in harmís way and persuades others to want to die, and the time he takes to seduce his female victims strongly suggest otherwise.
  • Wretched Hive: Bethany is shown to be little more than a wasteland full of human suffering, which is why it's such a perfect hunting ground for the Dust Devil, since it likes to pick off those who are ready to die.
  • Your Head Asplode: How Wendy kills the Dust Devilís host.
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: This is the Dust Devilís entire M.O. Apparently, the process of soul stealing entails shooting photographs of the victim, dismembering them, painting the walls with their blood and fat, and keeping their fingers.