Devil’s Bride, The / Devil Rides Out, The (1968)

“Simon here is playing the most dangerous game known to mankind.”

Synopsis:
When the Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) and his friend Rex (Leon Greene) arrive at the house of their mutual friend Simon (Patrick Mower), they find he has been abducted into a satanic coven led by the warlock Mocata (Charles Gray). After rescuing Simon and a young initiate named Tanith (Nike Arrighi), they seek refuge in the home of the Duc’s niece (Sarah Lawson) and her husband (Paul Eddington).

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Response to Peary’s Review:
This “classy” horror film earns my vote as the best Hammer Studios flick ever made. The script, musical score, acting, and set designs all contribute towards the creation of a suspenseful, sometimes humorous tale of demonic possession in our midst. What makes the film so successful as a thriller is the fact that none of these characters — well-meaning or not — are immune to the powers of Mocata, who is capable of forcing them to act against their own wishes; as a result, we never know who to trust, and even the most eminently likeable characters eventually take their turn as a creepy vessel for the dark side. The special effects — particularly, as Peary notes, in the “visually spectacular finale” — are remarkably effective, and convey a frighteningly believable alternate universe.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A powerful tale of demonic possession and satanism
    Satanism
  • Chrisopher Lee in an atypically heroic role
    Lee
  • Charles Gray as the sinister warlock Mocata
    Mocata
  • Nike Arrighi as the tragic, beautiful Tanith
    Tanith
  • Sarah Lawson (who looks uncannily like Vicki Lawrence) as the Duc’s niece
    Eaton
  • Patrick Mower as Simon
    Simon
  • The simple yet effective special effects
    Devil
  • Atmospheric sets
    Circle
  • Some surprising moments of humor — as when Rex is nearly run over by the cross-eyed Countess (Gwen Ffrangcon Davies)
    Crosseyes
  • The exciting car chase
    Car chase
  • A smart, tightly woven script
  • James Bernard’s score

Must See?
Yes. This cult horror classic should be seen by all film fanatics.

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One Response to “Devil’s Bride, The / Devil Rides Out, The (1968)”

  1. Agreed – a must.

    A very economic, tense and effective thrill-chill.

    Things get hopping almost from the get-go, as we’re introduced to a meeting of “the circle” – a very interesting sequence in which things are obviously strange and uncomfortable for various characters.

    From there on out, Richard Matheson’s script is indeed a nifty one. To a degree, there is the usual baggage with a film of this sort (skeptics; characters doing foolish things; certain mumbo-jumbo that may or may not be believable in satanic terms – who’s to say?). However, there are clever surprises as well – the best being the last fifteen minutes or so, including quite an unexpected turn at the end.

    Refreshing to see Lee playing a good guy this time out; younger viewers will no doubt recognize Gray from his stint as the narrator in ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ (some of that performance is a carry-over from this – in fact, patches of this film’s dialogue seem to have inspired ‘Rocky…’ writer Richard O’Brien); Leon Greene remains here on the dreamy side (as he was earlier in ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’).

    I don’t know that it’s the best film that came out of Hammer Studios – but I’d likely place it in the top five.

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