Dust Devil (1992)

The spirit of the desert has taken human form (Robert John Burke) and wishes to make his way back to the spirit world.  To do this, he must travel the desert, seeking out those who have lost everything and wish to end their lives, collecting parts from them until he has enough to cross over.

Enter Wendy (Chelsea Field), a woman from Johannesburg who strikes out for the Namibian desert in an effort to distance herself from her abusive husband Mark (Rufus Swart).  She soon crosses paths with the Dust Devil who, instead of immediately killing her, decides to spend some time.  Their time together ends quickly when she realizes what he is.

Also on the trail of the Dust Devil is Ben Mukarob (Zakes Mokae), a police officer in the dying town of Bethany who enters the picture after the brutal murder of a local woman.  His wife gone, his son dead and his town slowly fading, Mukarob finds himself seeking the aid of Joe (John Matshikiza), a local shaman, despite his initial disbelief.  With Joe's help he hopes to destroy the Dust Devil once and for all - and not become its next vessel.

Director Richard Stanley is responsible for what I consider one of the best post-apocalyptic slasher films ever: Hardware.  Initially, many people hated that film, but I always found the world it inhabits to be quite interesting and visually appealing, even if a bit of the dialogue was corny.  I feel the same with Dust Devil.  Sometimes the writing is a bit off, but it is saved by being a visual beauty of a film, taking advantage of Namibian desert as well as Kolmanskop, an abandoned town, that figures into the last part of the film and exudes atmosphere all on its own.

There are a few scenes which aim for symbolism about the then-recent achievement of independence with Namibia, largely when Mark is beaten savagely in a bar in Bethany for being South African and being told that "South Africa has no wife now."  I'm sure there's much more in there that's subtle that I am missing.

It is strange that at least one Namibian horror film keeps popping up whenever I do this challenge.  Maybe it's just the desert setting that lends itself to it.  Growing up in a desert area myself (in large part before it became as urban as it is), the feeling is understandable, and relatable.  Maybe that's why I enjoy these so much.

Dust Devil (1992)
Time: 87 minutes
Starring: Robert John Burke, Chelsea Field, Zakes Mokae
Director: Richard Stanley


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