FULCI WEEK: The Devil’s Honey (1986)

Also known as Dangerous Obsession, this movie was intended to be Lucio Fulci’s comeback after more than a year of dealing with hepatitis. It’s a return to the giallo (or at least sexually related drama) that he was creating in the early 70’s instead of the gore that he’d become infamous for throughout the 80’s, but when you’re dealing with Fulci, you know you’re going to get something certifiably insane and also something that doesn’t fit into any set category.

The film opens on Johnny playing that tender, tender saxophone that the ladies love so much. And no one loves it more than Jessica, his woman, who runs into the booth to lick the spit off his lips rather than let him wipe it himself. Johnny responds by fondling her in front of the engineers and his band, who are all like, “Brah, you gotta get outta here with that noise.” Instead, Johnny kicks everyone out and he takes her right in the middle of the studio, against her protests, telling her that he is her master and that everything he loves is in her. She argues that he doesn’t want her, only a piece of her, and Johnny responds by playing sax music directly into her woman parts. Honestly, I don’t even know if this is physically possible, but it’s one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie. It’s like Fulci was upset he couldn’t just cut out someone’s eyeball, so he decided to do the most ridiculous sex scene possible.

You know how you get jaded and say, “I’ve seen everything?” Well, I’m here to tell you that you haven’t until you watch The Devil’s Honey.

Unbeknownst to our lovers, everyone was in the booth watching. They blame Jessica for distracting Johnny, so she leaves for the bar.

We cut to a Dr. Wendell Simpson (Brett Halsey, Return of the FlyDemonia) being stripped of his scrubs after a successful surgery. He calls to tell Carol (Corinne Clery, who of course is Kala from Yor, Hunter from the Future), his wife, that he will be late. And why is he late? Because he’s visiting Anna, a prostitute, a fact that his wife knows only too well. He’s obsessed with work and finds it hard to concentrate on anything. Well, that is until she tries to fix a run in her stockings with red nail polish — something no human being has ever done before in the history of human civilization. The doctor responds by rubbing that red nail polish all over her face before taking her violently and quickly, then he pays her to leave, as she calls him a fucking monster.

Honestly, Fulci stages a sex scene like he stages a spider eating off someone’s face.

Carol catches the doctor leaving the prostitute’s apartment, just as we move back to Johnny and Jessica on a rollercoaster. They’re fighting, because there’s a thin line between love and hate. They lick faces as the coaster goes up and down the hills, which is intercut with Caol lying in bed, unfulfilled as the doctor sleeps.

Just when you think Fulci is going to back off on the insanity, we have Johnny and Jessica on a motorcycle, where he forces her to fondle him while he races the bike faster and faster until they nearly hit a car.

Ladies — if you’re into dudes wearing Cosby sweaters, tight jeans and brown leather, Johnny is the man for you.

They head back to their house, where they make love while Dickie from The Beyond barks outside their door. Afterward, Jessica sits outside, angry. Seriously, her mood swings seem like a red flag, but I’m 45 and not a famous saxophone player. I can see these things a little better.

She’s upset that Johnny treats her like a piece of meat. He starts stalking her with his bike while she screams at him to go away. He falls and smacks his head on a rock, but seems OK. The engineer tells him that they need to finish and he keeps playing until he collapses. Jessica goes nuts, pounding the glass, and this is just after she confessed to the engineer that she is pregnant and he tells her to get an abortion.

If you think this is gonna bring Jessica and Dr. Simpson together, well, you’re right.

The call comes in to Dr. Simpson to save Johnny, but Carol starts arguing with him. She tells him that he only performs for strangers and that she isn’t one of his whores. He points her to a cab stand and tells her to fuck off as she yells that she is filing for a divorce.

As the surgery starts, the doctor is distracted by what his wife told him, as all he can hear is her voice as the operation gets rougher and rougher. Johnny dies, a fact that Jessica instantly feels. She chases the doctor from the hospital, screaming that he is the killer of her boyfriend.

Jessica is obsessed, watching old videos of Johnny, staring at his photos, hearing his jazz theme over and over in her head.

That said — Johnny is a creep even in these videos, violently forcing her to make love, which makes her cry all over again. Instead of realizing that she is probably better off, she holds his sweater and cries.

Dr. Simpson and Carol make a date for old time’s sake, but he keeps getting threatening notes and calls. And despite all the things that Simpson has done wrong, if he just takes Carol to bed and satisfies her, she’ll take him back. She tells him that she’s no different than his whores and that she demands to be treated like one of them. They begin making out when the phone begins to ring and ring and, well, ring. He can’t forsake his duty for his wife, so she leaves him for good. As he answers the phone, he hears Jessica’s voice, asking “Why did you let him die?”

Meanwhile, Jessica is going even crazier, wearing Johnny’s sweaters and watching his videos over and over again before walking in the rain all night long.

The next day, she pulls a gun on the doctor and kidnaps him, taking him back to her house. She chloroforms him — a practice that exists only in professional wrestling and movies — and ties him up inches away from Dickie (I know it’s not the same dog, but I’d like to believe that Fulci has some kind of shared universe going on here). Jessica? Oh, she’s outside smashing his car with an axe. She hums a song, then announces that she is going to kill him, but not until she’s ready, at which point Dr. Simpson pisses his pants.

Jessica has a flashback — the first of many — of how Johnny treated her, as he gives her a baby doll at the beach and how he never wanted a child.

That pregnancy is causing Jessica nothing but pain, but she tells him that women are stronger than men and that she’ll be around long after the doctor is dead. She strikes him in the face, covering his face with blood, blood that she rubs all over her stomach, forcing him to lick it off while some rocking Italian synth plays.

She then drags him to the ocean, trying to drown him. She screams that Johnny had courage while the doctor has none. At gunpoint, she pushes him face first into the beach, but at the moment where it seems like he’ll die, she has second thoughts. She gives him mouth to mouth, which turns into her licking his face, the same way she did Johnny. But then she says, “I hate you. And I’m going to kill you.”

Speaking of Johnny, those flashbacks keep coming, as does the pain of her pregnancy. We see Johnny shooting a Richard Kern type video with a gun. As Jessica remembers, she debates killing herself, but stops.

The doctor tells her that she is, “An amazing girl.” She tells him that that won’t stop her from killing him. “But you’re still beautiful,” he answers before being forced to eat dog food.

As he is humiliated, Simpson recites a poem to her: “”When you have spent your life like a fortune that never seemed to end, a second chance will come like a long lost friend. Great joy will fill you and flush you hot. No more will you ever be cool, for she is the devil’s honey pot. And you’ll drown in her, you fool.” He claims that he never understood it until now. She finally shows him mercy by covering his naked, tied up body with a blanket as he kisses her knees, then slowly works up her body. That said — she is still cold and filled with hatred.

So, of course, she dumps a candle on him. “My name is fear. You can call me Jessica,” she says, as she reminds us all that we’re watching a Lucio Fulci movie. I’m surprised that she didn’t rip out his eyeball and throw it at the camera.

The dog dies — why, who knows — and Jennifer buries him with Johnny’s sweater. She buries the dog at the beach while remembering more and more how cruel Johnny was to her, how he only wanted her to be obedient and how he would grow more upset the more she loved him.

Awhile ago, Johnny bought Jessica a mystical bracelet that would keep love alive no matter what, unless thrown away. That bracelet is sold by Lucio Fulci, so I’d beware whatever that crazy old man in a hat has to sell — chances are it will make you puke your intestines out.

Jessica has one final memory — a romantic night at the movies turned into a nightmare when Johnny and his bandmate, Nicky, into made love to her at the same time, against her will. Jessica throws the bracelet into the sea, freeing herself.

She unties the doctor and puts the gun to her head again. The doctor saves her by coming to her bed and making love to her. He recites the poem to her one more time and the film ends.

Much like any Fulci movie, this isn’t going to be what you expect. It’s sexy at times, but never enough that it’s a movie you can enjoy for those aspects. It’s too rough, too crazy, too emotional, too dark to be seen that way. It’s about loss and finding someone, even when that makes no sense at all. It’s about power and why it means nothing. And it’s about a mystical bracelet, I guess.

There’s a great uncut version finally available of this film from Severin, with multiple covers and plenty of extras. Watch it and decide for yourself, but beware the devil’s honey pot.

6 thoughts on “FULCI WEEK: The Devil’s Honey (1986)

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